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What is an internship?

Internships are short-term work experiences that allow you to observe and participate in professional work environments and explore how your interests relate to possible careers. They are important learning opportunities that can help you make informed decisions about your career path. More specifically, doing internships is beneficial because they provide the opportunity to:

  • Get an inside view of an industry and organization/company
  • Gain valuable skills and knowledge
  • Make professional connections and enhance your network
  • Get experience in a field to allow you to make a career transition

Increasingly, employers are looking for students who have gained experience through internships. Internships should be substantive learning experiences that provide you with a better understanding of an industry, a position and of yourself. They should also provide you with a chance to improve your skill set and learn from those you are working with.

Types of Internships

Internships can vary from industry to industry and from one organization to another. Typically, interns have an opportunity to work at an organization for a selected number of hours per week over a finite period of time. They can vary greatly in terms of intensity, work style and compensation. Internships are available during the summer as well as the academic year.

Remember that the purpose of an internship is not to make money; it is to explore a career interest, develop skills, and gain experience. It is up to you to make the most of the internship by learning as much as you can, asking questions and making contacts, the value of which far exceeds most internships compensation. When considering an internship, focus on the skills you will learn and the experiences you will have, not simply on the company name.

Finding an Internship

In general, there are three different ways you can find an internship:

  • Advertised opportunities are those that are posted, much like traditional jobs, and are often posted in the same places, such as company websites, job boards and other job posting systems. Many advertised internships are a part of established internship programs that offer additional support and learning opportunities.
  • Hidden opportunities are not advertised. They are often found in newer and/or smaller companies. Hidden opportunities are primarily identified through networking with friends, family members, former employers, classmates and other personal contacts.
  • Self-created opportunities are created by the intern and the employer together. Often, a student will approach an organization in which he or she is interested in working and propose a project or simply offer his or her skills. This is a great way to intern for a company that has not had interns, does not normally hire interns or does not have an established internship program. While this takes initiative and time, self-created opportunities can be especially rewarding because the intern has a hand in designing the experience.

An effective internship search will involve applying to advertised opportunities as well as networking to find hidden opportunities. Keep in mind that there are many resources for finding an internship, so do not limit yourself to only one website or networking contact. A good place to start is LionSHARE, CCE's on-campus recruiting platform and job posting site. Explore our industry-specific resources for a variety of industries, as well as our information on international opportunities. Additionally, CCE provides internship programs that go on throughout the year in a wide variety of industries. 

Internship Timelines

All industries recruit at different times, so it is important to become familiar with the recruiting cycles in your target industry. Knowing when companies recruit on campus or collect resumes is critical for the interview process. Moreover, you will want to give yourself plenty of time to apply because it can be time consuming once you find an internship to which you would like to apply.

Many organizations, including some government agencies and large media companies (and virtually all financial services and consulting firms), conduct their recruiting well in advance of their start dates, while others hire on an as-needed basis, usually 2-3 months in advance. Generally, the less structured the internship, the more the company will hire as needed and on a rolling basis.

Remember that internships are available throughout the year. Make sure to fill out your LionSHARE profile to get the most up-to-date information.

Frequently Asked Questions about Internships

Can I get academic credit for my internship?

CU does not offer academic credit or course points for internships. 

Are there internship opportunities for First and Second-year students?

Although many employers are looking for juniors and seniors, there are opportunities available for first and second year students, including some CU sponsored programs. Using general search engines will be a good starting point. It is also important to consider sources beyond on-campus recruiting for internship positions, such as volunteer and community activities, research for professors, and part-time positions.

What should I expect from an internship?

Expect to gain a greater understanding of the organization and industry through direct participation in its mission. Don't be surprised if the internship also includes general administrative work and office assistance. Successful interns demonstrate that they're team players and willing to contribute to an organization in any and all capacities. Interns are encouraged to remember that it's their responsibility to get the most out of the internship experience. Meet with a career counselor to learn how to maximize your internship experience.

How do I get access to On-Campus Recruiting in LionShare?

The first part of applying for internships is to register with LionShare through the Center for Career Education's website . You'll need to fill out your profile and attach a resume. Next, you will request access to On-Campus recruiting by agreeing to the policies and procedures of the program and signing this form.  It takes 2 full business days to receive access, so leave yourself enough time before an application deadline!