An internship is a form of experiential education that emphasizes the learner’s personal experience rather than learning from a text or lecture format. The classroom may be a forensic lab, a public school classroom, a group counseling session, a small village in a developing country, or a corporate accounting firm. An intern may gain experience and understanding of a subject by conducting research, planning and delivering a math lesson, investigating crime patterns, developing a public relations campaign, or staffing a crisis hot line.
Through internships, students take theoretical knowledge into a practical setting, reflect on the work, assess its value and the skills they’ve developed, and determine the effect of their experience on their career planning.
Students generally work a minimum of eight hours per week or a maximum of 40 hours per week (full time), usually for one academic term. The work is performed in a professional environment under the guidance and supervision of a staff member with expertise in the student’s field of interest. Although the work may be similar to some part-time jobs or volunteer experiences, an internship is identified by the intentional, self-directed learning and student reflection about the work experience.
2. What are the advantages of doing an internship?
Personal: Internships help you assess your strengths and develop a plan for areas needing improvement; gain self-confidence and achieve a professional level of maturity; improve your interpersonal skills; prepare for life after graduation; integrate personal values with your work; gain an understanding of what will be expected of you when you begin work as a professional
Academic: Integrate classroom theory and academic knowledge with actual work experience; understand the relevance of course work (many students improve academic performance after participating in an internship); increase your motivation to learn and to achieve or further your academic goals; tap into resources not available on campus
Professional: Develop career-related skills such as writing an effective resume and cover letter and interviewing successfully; gain experience that relates to targeted jobs; observe professionals and their work behavior; develop a network of professional contacts and mentoring relationships; gain a competitive edge for employment or graduate school admission
Financial: About 50% of interns receive some compensation. Some employers may subsidize commuting costs or school expenses such as tuition for an internship course. Many employers extend offers of continued/paid employment upon successful completion of the internship.
3. Who can do an internship? When can I do an internship?
Any student may participate in an internship. We encourage students to consider interning early and often. If you are exploring career options, start no later than your sophomore year. If you are gaining experience in your field, you are likely to be more successful after you have taken courses in your chosen field. If you wish to earn credit, check your department’s eligibility criteria. Most departments require students to be juniors or seniors and to meet course prerequisites. Transfer students need to complete a minimum of 12 credits at TU.
7. I found an internship on my own. How can I find out if I can earn credit?
First determine if you meet your department’s eligibility criteria (see academic department for requirements) for earning internship credit. If you are eligible, ask the employer to create a Hire@TU account and post the internship description. Take a copy of the description to the internship coordinator in your department.
8. Can I earn credit in the fall for my summer internship?
Internship credit cannot be earned retroactively. If you plan to earn credit, your enrollment in your department’s internship must be concurrent with the experience.
9. Can I do an internship with my current employer?
Generally, you are encouraged to seek opportunities with different employers. However, if your current employer offers you an incentive to intern with the company, the work must be different from your current position and meet your academic department’s criteria for credit-bearing internships.
10. My internship doesn’t relate to my major (or my major doesn’t offer internships). Can I earn credit in another department?
Internship course requirements usually include major or minor status. Towson does not offer a general, elective internship course.
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