The first step when looking for an internship is to ask yourself questions about what you hope to achieve.
Which experiences qualify as internships?
The official title of your position (volunteer, field experience student, research assistant, employee, intern) matters much less than what you accomplish in that position.
What determines quality?
How can you know if a volunteer position, job, or internship will be valuable? Your criteria for evaluation should include some—or all—of the following:
- You are able to enhance your transferable skills (professional communication, teamwork, project management) or specialized knowledge while accomplishing goals that you can summarize on your resume.
- You learn about a career by networking with professionals.
- You get to observe professionals in action.
- You work with a professional while you perform some of the tasks that are part of the career. That person serves as your supervisor, to whom you can turn for feedback. You work closely enough with them so that they can describe, in detail, what you accomplished for their organization.
- You receive sufficient training that you're allowed to independently perform tasks that are part of the career or you are able to independently complete a significant project on behalf of the organization.
How can I find good internships? Who can help?
While it can be helpful to search national internship databases, it may take some time to zero in on the type of internship most relevant to your career goals. These databases can help you familiarize yourself with a range of opportunities within a field or a specific geographic region.
Keep in mind that 80% of all internship and job opportunities are never posted online—they’re part of the hidden job market. Many internship experiences don’t even exist until a student networks with a professional and they realize that they could establish a mutually beneficial working relationship.
To make your internship search as effective and efficient as possible, we encourage you to use the wide array of resources available through the Walter Center for Career Achievement.
- Internships – start your search as early as your first year.
- Career advising – available on a drop-in basis or by appointment.
- myJobs – postings exclusively for IU students and from national databases.
The IU Career Guides help you research careers, professional associations, internships, and other opportunities within 24 career interest areas.
Attend Walter Center for Career Achievement events, including internship and career fairs, networking nights and more.