An Internship By Any Other Name…

With a new fall semester comes presentations to New Student Seminar classes. In our “Your Competitive Advantage” presentation, my colleagues and I cover ways to develop professionally, starting during the freshman year. One of the topics we emphasize is the importance of internships.

Work in Progress

Here’s the problem: In some fields, “internships” don’t exist in the same way as in others. Take psychology for example. Most psychology “internships” are for graduate students in psychology. When you graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, you aren’t qualified to become a Psychologist. You need an advanced degree (master’s, specialist, or doctoral degree) in psychology. Internships are a part of this advanced education.

So what do you do if your find yourself pursuing a career in a field where internships aren’t common? You identify the equivalent experience for your field.

  • Volunteer: If you are going into human services or education, there are some excellent volunteer opportunities out there to help you gain experience. For example, become an America Reads volunteer. You are placed in elementary schools to work one-on-one with students who need additional help in reading. It’s great for students hoping to become teachers as well as anyone seeking to work with children (ex. prospective social workers). The key is to find a volunteer opportunity that it ongoing, so it feels more like a job.
  • Field Study/Field Work: A field study course combines a volunteer placement with a credited course. For example, UW-Whitewater psychology students can enroll in PSYCH 387 (Field Training). You are placed with a human service agency, school, crisis intervention program, etc. You work “in the field” and are supervised by someone at your placement site as well as a faculty member in the psychology department. It’s excellent training for students pursuing graduate training in counseling, clinical psychology, school psychology, or social work.
  • Undergraduate Research: If you are looking at careers in academia (i.e. higher education) or in areas requiring extensive knowledge of and experience with research practices, undergraduate research is something to consider. It gives you the opportunity to conduct research, scholarship, and creative activity in partnership with a faculty mentor. Students in the sciences and social sciences might immediately come to mind, but students from all disciplines at UW-Whitewater engage in undergraduate research.
  • Student Teaching: This work-education experience for students pursuing a degree and career in education puts future teachers in the classroom working with an experienced, licensed teacher. The experience is required for licensure. Alternatively, there is the Teacher Internship Program which fulfills the student teaching requirement. The experiences are fundamentally the same, but Teacher Interns generally assume more responsibility than student teachers.

When you boil it down, “internship” really refers to a career-related work experience. It doesn’t matter what title that experience has. As long as it’s related to the work you hope to do as a professional, it’s the exact experience prospective employers want to see.

Photo by Grant Kwok

When Do You Begin the Search for a Summer Internship?

This a question I’ve been getting a lot lately. Is it too early to start looking into summer internships? Is it worthwhile going to the Hawk Career Fair for summer internships?

As far as I’m concerned, it’s never too early to start looking into internships. And if you are planning on an internship this upcoming summer – nine months away – now is actually an ideal time to start your process.

Summer Time (I)

As you could see from last week’s post, there are a lot of organizations attending the Hawk Career Fair seeking interns. Some of them are focused on summer interns.

For example, most of the internships with Colony Brands (formerly The Swiss Colony) start in June. The Management Trainee Internship with Enterprise Rent-a-Car is a summer opportunity. Finally, if you want to intern with Target, you’ll want to connect with them at the fair. Their Stores Executive Internship is for Summer 2013.

Some students will end the fall semester with their summer internships set.

What if you’re not interested in the companies or summer opportunities at the Hawk Career Fair? Will you be behind if you don’t finish this semester with your summer internship secured?

Not at all. However, there are still some things to work on to keep your summer internship search on track:

  • Your Resume – Don’t wait until you absolutely need your resume to prepare it. Start working on it now. Have it reviewed by one of our career advisors. Then have it reviewed again, maybe by a different career advisor. You’ll have a knock-out resume ready to go when opportunities start to pop up.
  • Your Resources – What resources are best for finding internships in your field? Know what resources you want to use and make sure you know how to use them effectively. Take Hawk Jobs, for example. Do you know how to use the “Advanced Search” features? Did you know that you can have new postings emailed to you? Have you found the hidden career resources? If you answered no to any of these questions, you might want to meet with a career advisor for a short tutorial.
  • Your Strategy – Just like in a job search, there’s more to finding an internship than searching for opportunities on job boards. Networking is an important strategy, one that you can implement right now. Did you know that some students create their own internships? Is that a strategy that might work for you? It could be, and now is the perfect time to explore it.

If your plans include an internship for Summer 2013, now is the time to start. Even if you aren’t applying for anything right now (many more opportunities will pop up starting in late January), you will be completely ready when the time comes.

Photo by Jesus Solana

Find Your Internship at the 2012 Hawk Career Fair

Planning for a Summer 2013 internship? Still looking for a fall semester internship? Exploring spring opportunities? Then this year’s Hawk Career Fair is the place you need to be!

Of the 114 employers registered to attend the fair, 52 of them are seeking interns. Here is the list of specific internship positions being recruited for. To get more details, log into Hawk Jobs. You can search by employer through the “Career Fairs & Workshops” tab or search by position through the “Job Search” tab and using the provided job IDs.


  1. District Manager Internship with ALDI Inc.
  2. Human Resources Internship with Aptar – Seaquist Closures (Job ID 19849)
  3. IT Internship with Assurant Health (Job ID 20378)
  4. IT Business Analyst and Programmer Internships with C.H. Robinson
  5. Various Internships with Colony Brands, formerly The Swiss Colony (Job ID 20116)
  6. Management Trainee with Consolidated Electrical Distributors (Job ID 20396)
  7. Junior Programming Internship with Data Specialists, Inc. (Job ID 19974)
  8. Operations Internship with Direct Supply (Job ID 19622)
  9. CIS Application Support Internship with Direct Supply (Job ID 19623)
  10. Marketing Internship with Direct Supply (Job ID 19624)
  11. Management Trainee Internship with Enterprise Rent-A-Car
  12. Management Trainee Internship with First Supply (Job ID 20497)
  13. Purchasing Internship with Generac Power Systems (Job ID 20361)
  14. Production Control Internship with Generac Power Systems (Job ID 20362)
  15. Other Various Internships with Generac Power Systems (Job ID 20185)
  16. IT Leadership Program Internship with GE (Job ID 20085)
  17. Production Management Internship with Hormel Foods (Job ID 19893)
  18. Quality & Process Control Internship with Hormel Foods (Job ID 19894)
  19. Supply Chain Internship with Hormel Foods (Job ID 19895)
  20. IT Internship with Hormel Foods (Job ID 19897)
  21. Sales Internship with Hormel Foods (Job ID 19899)
  22. Marketing Internship with Hormel Foods (Job ID 19900)
  23. Accounting, Sourcing and Customer Service Internships with IEWC
  24. Commercial Lines Claims and Underwriter Internships with Indiana Insurance, a division of Liberty Mutual (Job ID 20186)
  25. Supply Chain and Safety Internships with J.W. Speaker Corporation
  26. Accounting Internship with Kerry Ingredients & Flavours (Job ID 19856)
  27. Human Resources Internship with Kerry Ingredients & Flavours ( Job ID 19857)
  28. Accounting/Finance Internship with Kohler Co. (Job ID 20143)
  29. Loss Prevention Internship with Kohl’s Department Stores (Job ID 20643)
  30. Store Management Internships with Kohl’s Department Stores
  31. Management Internship with Maurices (Job ID 20504)
  32. Financial Representative Internships with Northwestern Mutual (Job IDs 1340 and 18329)
  33. IT Internship with Northwestern Mutual (Job ID 20494)
  34. Marketing Internships with ORBIS Corporation (Job ID 19438 and 20268)
  35. IT Internships with ORBIS Corporation (Job ID 20267 and 20358)
  36. Marketing Analyst Internship with ORBIS Corporation (Job ID 20359)
  37. Sales and Management Trainee Internships with Penske Truck Leasing
  38. Manufacturing Operations Internship with Poclain Hydraulics (Job ID 20284)
  39. Accounting/Finance and Actuary Internships with QBE the Americas
  40. Change Management, Software Developer and System Administrator Internships with Quad/Graphics
  41. Supply Chain Co-Op with Rockwell Automation (Job ID 20515)
  42. Application Development Internship with Schreiber Foods (Job ID 20319)
  43. IS Customer Support Internship with Schreiber Foods (Job ID 20320)
  44. Various Computer Science Internships with Skyline Technologies (Job ID 20318)
  45. Stores Executive Internship with Target (Job ID 18048)
  46. Finance Internships with TDS (Job IDs 20522 and 20523)
  47. Management/Sales Internship Program with Sherwin-Williams (Job ID 20091)
  48. Community Management Internship with Walgreens (Job ID 20182)
  49. IT Internships with We Energies
  50. Java Software Developer Internship with Widen Enterprises (Job ID 20208)
  51. Consulting Internship with Wipfli (Job ID 20092)
  52. Marketing Research Internship with Zywave (Job ID 20308)
  53. Software Developer Internship with Zywave (Job ID 20310)

Other employers are looking to connect with potential interns but don’t have specific openings. These include:

To make sure you’re ready for the fair, you can find some great posts on career fair strategies on our Career Spotlight Blog.

And get your resume recruiter-ready during this week’s Resume Doctor rotations. No appointments necessary – Resume reviews are first come, first served.

Finally, check out UWW Career on Facebook and Twitter for additional resume and career fair tips. Trying to figure out what to wear to the fair? Take a peek at my Pinterest boards, What to Wear – Women and What to Wear – Men.

There is a lot of career stuff going on in Career & Leadership Development this month, all of it geared at helping you get that internship! Good luck!

From the Archives… Resource Spotlight: Idealist

Originally published April 13, 2009

It’s been awhile since I highlighted a resource for your internship search; it’s about time I changed that. The first resource that I touched on was [Hawk Jobs], UW-Whitewater’s internship/job database. In this post, I want to highlight Idealist, a project of the nonprofit organization Action Without Borders.

Nonprofit organizations, charities, NGOs, government agencies, and universities all use Idealist to post internships. You can search for internship opportunities based on organizations’ area of focus, ranging from children and youth to economic development. The internships listed are located all across the United States and around the globe, with the bulk of opportunities located in the US. You can even perform an advanced search for opportunities and subscribe to an RSS feed of that search. You can then use a feed reader to get updates on new items that meet your search terms.

You can also find volunteer opportunities on Idealist. Volunteer work can be just as valuable as an internship, and it might be the primary way to obtain relevant experience as an undergraduate in some fields (ex. human services).

As I mentioned before, in addition to finding domestic opportunities, you can search for internships and volunteer work all over the world. International experience not only has the potential to be great life experience, but it also enhances your marketability come time to find a full-time job after graduation. A new resource on Idealist is their International Volunteerism Resource Center (IVRC) where they provide information to help you make informed decisions about volunteering abroad. And since the idea of an internship doesn’t always exist in the same way in other countries, volunteering abroad can be an ideal way to gain international work experience. You can also access Idealist in 11 different languages, so you can practice your Spanish language comprehension if you’d like. Maybe I’ll challenge myself to use the site in French from now on.

Idealist is not only a search resource, but it’s an interactive website where organizations and individuals can connect, exchange information and ideas, and learn more about community action. They [support info centers] for a variety of [topics], such as Graduate School and Nonprofit Careers. You can also [connect with Idealist through social media:]


Idealist is in the list of General Internship Search Resources on our Student Internships site.

Unpaid Internships: Criteria to Consider

Last week, I touched upon your rights (of sorts) when it comes to unpaid internships. That post naturally started to drift into the criteria you might use to evaluate a “good” unpaid internship. So in keeping with that direction, here are some qualities of an acceptable unpaid internship.

No thumbs up

  • The internship involves real work. Most internship horror stories involve unpaid internships in which interns do nothing more than fetch coffee and make copies. Every “real” job involves some amount of grunt work, so you should expect some in an internship, too. However, it should never make up the bulk of your work tasks. If an unpaid internship consists almost entirely of menial work, I would pass.
  • Your work tasks are at an intern-appropriate level. While you should be doing real work as an intern, that work should be at a para-professional level. For example, you shouldn’t be the solo in-house PR person (i.e. professional level), but you should be working with a full-time PR professional in the organization. As an intern, you are still learning and should be working under the supervision of an experienced professional in the given area. While an internship that looks advanced might be appealing, you would be making a substantial contribution that goes well beyond the purview of an internship, especially one that’s not paid. Proceed at your own risk.
  • The internship posting provides a complete description of the position. When I’m coaching employers on creating an internship, I encourage them to think about what specifically they want an intern to do and to craft a thorough job description for the opportunity. While a good internship will allow for some flexibility for your goals and for new, unanticipated projects, much of the role should be in place well before you start work. If you find an internship posting that isn’t very clear about the work you will be doing, it could potentially lead you into an abusive internship situation.
  • You will have a specific supervisor. Sometimes you might not have this information at the time you apply. If you get to the point of interviewing, make sure to ask about the supervision you will receive as part of the internship. Who will your supervisor be? What is his/her background in the field? How will supervision be structured? How will feedback be delivered? An internship is a learning experience, so you want to know who your “teacher” will be.
  • The internship is with a non-profit organization. As I stated in last week’s post, non-profit organizations don’t fall under the same “rules” and guidelines when it comes to unpaid internships. It doesn’t mean that all unpaid internships with non-profits are legit – an unpaid internship with a non-profit should still entail real work that is clearly outlined from the outset, is appropriate for a student intern, and is supervised by an experienced professional. But if you see an unpaid internship with a lucrative for-profit organization, I would question it. While some unpaid internships with up-and-coming for-profits might not be a problem (ex. with a start-up company), a large organization that makes a huge profit should have no reason to bring on unpaid interns. Despite the issues with the lawsuit, I agree that a major  studio making millions of dollars off a movie can afford to pay their interns minimum wage. There is likely no good reason for a for-profit company to offer unpaid internships. I would tread cautiously…or maybe even run away very fast in the opposite direction.

My final piece of advice when it comes to evaluating an unpaid internship – Consult. Email me or schedule an appointment with me to discuss the internship you are considering.

Photo by Adventures of Pam & Frank