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Internships Guide

What is an internship and why do one?
How do I find an internship?
How do I find an internship that's right for me?
How do I get the most out of an internship?
Other frequently asked questions about internships...
What if I have problems in my internship?

What is an internship and why do one?
  • An internship is your best chance to test out potential career choices. You'll get real-life experience doing the work of an employee in an organization.
  • An internship is also a good way to learn about different management styles and work environments. Internships help you learn what type of work suits you.
  • An internship helps you develop professional skills and build a network of contacts. This will help you later when you begin your job search.
  • Internship Class:

    Earn 1 credit and get more from your internship by taking this class.
  • An internship is the best way to connect the learning you are doing in the classroom to the world of work. Basically, you'll learn by doing.
  • An internship will help you get a job after you graduate. Employers seek job candidates with some type of experience. Internships build your resume and increase your chances of getting hired later.

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How do I find an internship?
  • Search for listings on GoldPASS, the U of M's job and internship database. It lists thousands of opportunities just for U of M students.

  • Stop by the CLA Career Services office. We can steer you to books, internship-search sites, and other ways to find internships. After you find an internship you want to apply for, we can also help you write a resume or prepare for a possible interview.

  • Intern abroad. Check out the Learning Abroad Center for more information on opportunities to complete an internship abroad.

  • Attend the CLA Internship Fair! At this annual fall event you can explore internship opportunities with a wide variety of employers who are hiring and who have internships for CLA students. This event is also an opportunity to develop your networking skills and to get advice about internships and full-time professional work.

  • Ask people! Use your personal networks. You do have them: family, friends, classmates, faculty, advisers, teaching assistants, neighbors.... anyone you can think of. To broaden your network, join a student organization or volunteer somewhere. Here's what you can say when asking about internships:

Sample script: I'm hoping to get an internship soon, so I can explore career options and get some experience before I graduate. My major is ____, and I hope to get an internship doing ____. Do you know anyone who works in this field or who works somewhere that might have internships in that field? Or can you think of any other ways I might find an internship? If not and you hear of something later, I'd appreciate you keeping me in mind.

How do I find an internship that's right for me ?
  • First, consider your academic and personal goals. Also consider your strengths and values. Do you want to work for a nonprofit? Then focus your search there. Do you want to do advertising, anywhere? Then search by category, concentrating on ones related to that field (e.g., Advertising, Marketing, Public Relations).

  • Write a goal statement for yourself: "I would like an internship that will give me an opportunity to...." This statement will guide your search. If you're struggling to clarify your career goals, consider taking one of the career exploration and planning courses we offer, ID 1201 or ID 3201.

  • Explore as many internship options as possible.

  • If you have trouble finding the right internship, try creating your own. Decide what you want to do and find an organization that will support you. Keep in mind that smaller, lesser-known organizations often provide internships that are just as good as internships at big companies, and tend to be more flexible.

  • Do an informational interview with someone in an organization or field that interests you. If it seems like a good fit, ask them about internship possibilities in their organization. The CLA Career Services office provides books, handouts and personal tips about conducting informational interviews.

  • Once you find an internship, negotiate a 'Learning Contract' with your site supervisor. This agreement clarifies your expectations and those of your supervisor and maps out a plan for you as you work through your internship. Some experiences are centered around a specific project--a campaign, for example--so your agreement should be written with this project in mind. (See the bullet below for even more info.)

How do I get the most out of an internship?
  • Create a Learning Contract! Here's how it works: When you begin the internship, work with your supervisor to create a document that maps out a work plan. Outline what you intend to learn and accomplish. Both you and your supervisor can use this document to manage the position. If your internship focuses on a specific project, write the learning contract with that in mind. If it doesn't, chart out various activities and projects, mutual expectations, and goals. As you begin, consider your goals in these areas:
    —Academics: What ideas and concepts in your field of study would you like to learn about, practice, or test?
    —Skills: What practical skills do you want to develop?

  • Need help creating a Learning Contract? Visit the CLA Career Services office for help.

  • If you're doing an internship and run into challenges, see this chart listing problems and potential solutions. It's a helpful tool for problem-solving internship issues.

Frequently Asked Questions about internships

CLA Undergraduate Internship Scholarships