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Frequently asked questions about internships

 

What is an internship?

An internship is an entry-level work experience in one's expected career field.  This practical experience is meant to compliment classroom instruction, and therefore, should have defined goals or learning outcomes and supervision by both the academic institution and the employer. Internships are typically completed by college students either over the summer or during a semester; they can be paid or unpaid; and a student may or may not receive academic credit, depending on the situation.

Why should I complete an internship?

Hands-on experience within your desired career field is a great way to "try out" a career before committing to a full time job or a graduate degree program. You may be required to complete an internship as part of your undergraduate degree program at Penn State Greater Allegheny. If this is not required, it is still a good idea to complete one or more internships during your college education.  Because employers prefer to hire candidates with experience, completing an internship can help to make you more marketable when applying for positions as you near graduation.  Through practical experience gained during an internship, a candidate can more easily express to an employer how his/her skills and education are relevant to the position. In addition, graduate program admissions committees look favorably upon practical experience, as those students who have obtained such experience tend to be more certain of their decision to commit to a specific graduate program as a means of achieving their long term career goals. 

What is the difference between an internship and experiential learning?

An internship is a supervised, entry-level work-related experience associated with a student's academic discipline.  Experiential learning is a broad term used to describe many different types of hands-on learning which a student may experience via internship opportunities or other means including volunteer, service learning, and/or independent projects.


When can I complete my internship?

The semester during which an internship is offered can vary by employer depending on their project needs, availability of supervising staff, and budget.  Many employers accept only summer interns, while others will accept interns during any semester.  If your academic program requires your internship to be completed during a specific semester or within a particular time frame, you will need to be aware of those policies.


Should I do an internship for academic credit?

You will need to register to complete your internship for academic credit if this is required as part of your degree program.  If you are unsure whether your degree program requires the completion of an internship, consult with your academic advisor.

Will I get paid for my internship?

Internships can be paid or unpaid at the discretion of the employer.  Check the internship posting to determine if the opportunity is paid or unpaid; or check with the employer offering the internship. If receiving academic credit for your internship, employers are not required to provide payment.