What Is an Internship? 

As you start to think about your summer plans, an internship might be something you consider. Internships are a great way to gain career experience and explore something new short-term. Whether you end up loving your internship or try something that you find isn’t for you, both outcomes are helpful experiences. Perhaps most importantly, internships help you to form relationships and build skillsets that can lead to full-time work after getting your degree.  

internship definition

So what distinguishes an internship from a summer job? Here are a few key things to know: 

  1. Internships include a great deal of learning and mentorship. Interns should be working with and learning from experienced staff. Jobs are generally more focused on “work” whereas internships should include more guidance and feedback along with work.  
  2. Internships have great value on your resume. Because of the implied learning experience, an internship can be a great way to show a potential employer that you have taken the time to learn and develop skills in your field.  
  3. Internships aren’t always paid (somewhere around 60% are paid and 40% are unpaid) and many require you relocate for the duration of the internship. (Although employers have adjusted to remote work during the Covid pandemic). Be sure to consider your financial needs when applying to internships and check with your academic department to see if you can get credit hours for an internship. 
  4. An internship is typically within or related to your area of study; and you bring to the internship the knowledge you’ve acquired through your education. 
  5. You have the opportunity to be observed and evaluated on-the-job by potential employers within your internship site and so job offers are common. Many employers use internship programs as a pipeline of full-time talent.  

Want to learn more or start searching for an internship?  Review this internship infographic and our online internship resources to find opportunities!