Internships are defined by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) as: “a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.”
Each year hundreds of Boise State students participate in internships with local, regional and national organizations. You can even travel abroad. You can have an internship experience with a large international company, a small start-up, state or federal agency or a nonprofit organization. Internships can vary; they can be paid or unpaid, for credit or not-for-credit, part-time or full-time.
Why Do an Internship?
- Get practical, hands-on professional work experience.
- Build skills employers look for when hiring college graduates.
- Explore a potential career path, an industry or an organization.
- Apply the knowledge you gain in the classroom to the world of work.
- Network and make valuable connections for references and future jobs.
Did You Know?
- Many organizations use internship programs as an applicant pool from which to draw on when hiring for full-time employment.
- Graduates who interned have a full-time job offer rate 44% higher than those who don’t and their starting salaries are 27% higher.
- More than 92% of employers surveyed expect students to have prior professional experience when they graduate.
Finding an Internship
For additional information about finding and applying for an internship, see the Internship Handout.
Step 1: Decide What You Want to Do
The majority of students find their internships by contacting the company directly. But before you make the call, figure out what kind of experience you want and where you want to get it. Make your internship as closely related to your post-graduation career goals as possible.
- Internship Application Database: Search past internships for ideas. Log in using your university username and password. Select your department and browse the descriptions.
- What Can I do With This Major? If you don’t know your career goal yet, click on this link to explore the many opportunities.
- You can also meet with a career counselor to take a career assessment and explore which type of career/internship you should pursue. Read the Career Planning handout for more information. Here are some virtual workshops that may also provide some guidance.
Step 2: Seek Opportunities and Apply
Apply to companies with an existing internship program. Seek companies who hire interns as they apply, but don’t recruit them, or create your own internship.
- Go to Handshake: while browsing the internship opportunities, you’re only seeing postings from companies recruiting at that exact time, so be sure to check Handshake regularly for what’s new.
- Internship Application Database: get ideas about companies for which you’d like to intern. Select your department and browse the internships other students in your major have done. Develop a list of target companies and check their websites for information. If you’re already interested in a specific company, find it in the “Organization” drop-down menu for information about past internships.
- DON’T limit yourself. Most internships students complete were never posted, which is why it’s important to start by deciding what you want to do and for which company. Just because a company doesn’t have internships currently posted, it doesn’t mean they don’t offer internships or wouldn’t offer one.
- Conduct informational interviews. Contact someone working at a company and ask questions about the company and their needs. An informational interview is the best strategy for getting your foot in the door and expanding your professional network. To learn more about informational interviewing, see our Informational Interviewing handout.
- Pitch an idea. Research a company to find out what kind of internship can fulfill a need. Develop an idea and pitch it. Companies in the internship database are good places to start, because you know they might be more receptive to the idea of an intern. Nonprofit organizations are also a good source as they rely on interns and volunteers to further their goals.
- Prepare a strong resume. Highlight your relevant skills and experiences, and target the resume according to the internship for which you’re applying. You may also be asked for a cover letter. Learn how to create both. Take our virtual workshops on resumes and cover letters, or view our handouts on resumes and cover letters.
- Be aware of different internship processes. While most students will use the process described here, there are some majors (e.g. professional programs such as education or social work) that require a different process for how you set up an internship. If you’re unsure, talk to your department advisor.
Registering for Academic Credit
To determine whether or not an opportunity can be considered for academic credit, you must review your opportunity with your department internship coordinator. If you don’t know who that is, contact your department, or you can ask Career Services by calling us at (208) 426-1747, or emailing us at email@example.com. The coordinator must first evaluate the work that you are doing to ensure that it meets department guidelines and help you decide how many credits the internship should be assigned. Students earn one credit for each 45-50 hours of work.
- An internship must be completed in the semester you’re getting academic credit per the Registrar’s academic calendars.
- Internships require approximately 45 hours of work for each hour of academic credit awarded.
- Generally, you’ll work 10 to 20 hours a week during a semester.
- Sometimes you’ll work full time during vacations and during summer.
- No more than twelve (12) credits earned in internships 293 and 493 may be used to meet university graduation requirements.
- The Graduate Council establishes limits on the number of credits awarded for internship experience at the graduate level (590). Each department establishes its own credit limits.
- Some programs require internships and many allow an internship as an elective in a major. You’re encouraged to do one or more internships as part of your academic program.
- It may be possible to do an internship in the organization for which you’re already working. If that’s the case, look for new projects that will allow you to apply classroom knowledge to your job. Discuss the situation with your department internship coordinator to get approval.
- Internships are graded on either a pass/fail or letter grade basis.
- Internship credit is considered academic credit and will be billed as such depending upon your part- or full-time status during the semester you’re interning.
- Each department has its own criteria for internship eligibility, which may include a GPA requirement or upper-division status, so please contact your department internship coordinator for specific requirements.
Internship Application Process
Once you have obtained an internship and are ready to register for the internship course you must complete your application online
- Access the Internship Application for Academic Credit.
- Log in using your Boise State username and password.
- To create your application, hit the plus (+) sign next to Internship Application for Academic Credit on the left hand side of the page. Click on the option Create an Application
- Enter all required information (fields with * are required)
- Then hit SUBMIT (if you do not have all the information you can hit SAVE and come back to it at another time; remember it is not submitted until you hit SUBMIT)
- Once submitted, the application will be routed to the department internship coordinator for approval – he/she will get an email notification asking them to approve your internship
- Once approved by department internship coordinator, it will then be routed to your organization supervisor for approval via email
- Once approved by the organization supervisor, it will be routed via email to the Registrar’s Office and the approved internship course will be added to your class schedule in my.Boisestate.
- PLEASE NOTE: You will not be registered for your internship course until your department internship coordinator and organization supervisor approve your internship application
Online Orientation Workshop
As part of doing an internship for academic credit, you are required to complete a very short online orientation workshop and quiz prior to beginning your internship. To complete the workshop and quiz the instructions are as follows:
- Access the Internship Application for Academic Credit.
- Log in using your Boise State username and password.
- On the left hand side you will see Internship Application for Academic Credit (+)
- Click on the + side
- Click on view online orientation workshop it’s a short YouTube video
- After completion of viewing the orientation video you will be prompted to take a quiz
- Complete 10 question quiz and submit, you may also print your quiz
Get the Most Out of Your Internship
Set Personal Goals
- While internships may be structured with defined goals and outcomes, many are not. It’s important to think about what you want to accomplish to get the most out of the experience.
- Talk with your internship supervisor about your goals.
- Set goals that are mutually beneficial based on your desires, as well as what the organization would like to achieve.
- Continually re-evaluate your goals; ask your supervisor for feedback on your progress.
Be Positive, Professional and Take Initiative
- Organizations value those who bring energy, enthusiasm and a positive can-do attitude to the workplace.
- Never underestimate the importance of being professional: show up on time, dress appropriately, be ready to work.
- Ask questions and immerse yourself in learning everything you can.
- Take initiative. Ask to take on more projects. Go above and beyond whenever possible.
- Work hard and do your best work.
- Build a good relationship with your internship supervisor.
- Expand your professional network. Get to know your coworkers.
- Find a mentor who can provide advice, constructive feedback and encouragement.
After the Internship
Internships are a critical step in building your network, and gaining the skills and experience are critical for your future employability. Leaving a positive impression with your supervisor and the organization is important. When it’s time to go, remember to:
Ask for Feedback
- Take the opportunity before leaving your internship to ask for feedback.
- If your supervisor doesn’t have an exit evaluation, ask for one. Find out your strengths and weaknesses.
Say Thank You
- It’s important to thank everyone involved in your internship for giving you the opportunity.
- Writing a handwritten note to your supervisor/coworkers adds a personal touch and leaves a positive impression.
Update Your Resume
- As your internship comes to an end, it’s important to reflect on what you learned.
- Update your resume with your internship experience highlighting the skills and accomplishments you gained while it’s still fresh in your mind.
- Ask your supervisor/coworkers if they would be references for you in the future.
- If you list them as references, remember to notify them ahead of time.
- Keep in touch! Maintain the connections you’ve made during your internship by updating them on your progress and asking advice for future opportunities.