What Is An Internship?
Why Do An Internship?
How Do I Find An Internship?
How Do I Register For An Academic Credit Internship?
Research Internships and the Institutional Review Board
International Students and Internships
Federal Guidelines for Unpaid Internships
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE):
An internship is 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.
- Develop professional skills and gain hands-on experience in your field of interest
- Apply your academic coursework to a real-world work situation
- Explore career options and develop your personal sense of vocation
- Learn how organizations operate
- Begin building your professional network
Did you know...
How Do I Find An Internship?
Employers from all sectors use internships as a recruiting tool! It's true! Employers use internships to screen and groom potential full-time hires. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has conducted numerous employer surveys that demonstrate this growing trend.
Internship experience will give you a competitive edge as a full-time job or graduate school candidate! No matter the organization, having internship experience as an undergraduate student makes you a more qualified candidate in the eyes of employers' and professional schools'. We hear this message from recruiters year after year, who feel that students with past internship experience bring more professionalism and maturity as full-time job or graduate school candidates.
No matter where you are in the process of searching for an internship, the Piper Center can provide resources and guidance to help you. Use the statements below to find out where to start your search.
“My goals for completing an internship are…”
Think about your answers to the questions below. This step is important! Your goals for completing an internship will help guide your search process. You don't have to have answers to every question right away!
- What do I hope to accomplish with an internship?
- What academic goals and which career objectives do I want to work towards?
- What interests do I want to explore?
- What skills do I want to use and improve?
- How do I want to apply my academic coursework?
- When do I want to conduct an internship?
- Where do I want to conduct an internship (consider both geographic location AND type of organization)?
- Do I want/need to receive academic credit?
“I don’t know what I am interested in…”
- Note themes in your answers to these questions: What do you enjoy doing? How do you spend your free time? What do you most enjoy thinking about? Where do your thoughts seem to wander? How do opinions or outside influences (family, friends, professors, etc.) impact your academic/experiential/career choices? Where do you see yourself 5 years from now – how about 10?
“I don’t know what types of careers there are for people in my major…”
The idea that there are majors that don't lead to jobs is a myth, especially at a liberal arts college where students are well-educated in a breadth of subjects beyond their major. Any major can prepare you for a number of different careers – start looking at occupations in very broad terms and then narrow in on something more specific. Try this:
- Link to St. Olaf’s Online Alumni Directory and do a simple search by major. In the search results, click on alums one at a time to see what they’re doing now. You will be surprised at the variety!
- Contact alums who are doing something of interest and request an informational interview.
- Similarly, you may contact representatives of local community and government organizations to learn more about these work environments and potential future career paths.
- Visit the Piper Center’s websites on Exploring Careers and Majors, and come in to the Piper Center to browse the career library.
- Search the Internet for websites of professional associations in your areas of interest. You’ll find career exploration resources with up-to-date internship and job listings and descriptions of lesser known careers in the field.
- Talk to your professors about career options in your areas of interest.
"I want to get field-specific experience that will put my major to use…”
- Identify local internship opportunities around Northfield - lists community organizations seeking interns.
- Search site directories by major - lists organizations Oles have interned with in the past.
- Visit the Piper Center’s Job & Internship Search page for a comprehensive list of job and internship databases online, as well as our library of hardcopy internship resources.
- Create a resume and come to the Piper Center to have it reviewed by a peer advisor or staff member.
- Think about family, friends, and campus resources including faculty, peers, and acquaintances when considering an internship site. Sage advice, information, and contacts often come from people you already know!
Each year, nearly 200 students complete their internship for academic credit. While few majors or concentrations require an academic internship, students find great value in the opportunity to work with a faculty supervisor and devote time to their internship activities. You can register for a domestic academic internship or an international academic internship. You can also stop by the Piper Center and speak with a Peer Advisor who can answer your questions and guide you through the process.An Important Note for Students Planning An Internship.
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD: If your internship will involve research activities with human subjects, be sure to see the Institutional Review Board’s website for steps to have your research project reviewed well in advance of the start date of your internship.
International Students and Internships
International students are strongly encouraged to find internship experiences while enrolled at St. Olaf. To do an internship, international students need to have been enrolled at St. Olaf for one full year (first year international students and exchange students are not eligible for internships). International students who find U.S.-based internship opportunities off campus MUST register for academic internship credit. Students need to coordinate with both the Piper Center and with the International Student Advisor in the Dean of Students Office. Internships may be paid or unpaid.
International students are encouraged to find internship opportunities in their home countries. Particularly over interim, they could receive academic internship credit without incurring additional tuition fees, all the while gaining valuable work experience. International students who find internship opportunities outside of the United States (interim or summer) would not need to follow CPT requirements (would not need to register for academic internship credit).
The International Student Advisor will require the following prior to authorizing Curricular Practical Training (CPT):
1. Cover sheet with International Student Advisor's Signature
2. The completed Academic Internship Learning Agreement and Plan with all signatures
3. Authorization of the internship credit in SIS by the Registrar
4. Letter from the employer on letterhead with a site supervisor signature, which addresses:
- student's name
- dates of employment
- paid or unpaid
- number of hours per week
- brief description of responsibilities
- where the work will happen, a specific address (not PO Box)
The work authorized under CPT must directly relate to the student's field of study.
Any questions about CPT should be directed to St. Olaf's International Student Advisor.
Federal Guidelines for Unpaid Internships (minimum wage, Fair Labor Standards Act)
Students will find companies and organizations that offer unpaid internship opportunities. It is important that students understand why organizations offer unpaid internships, and that students do necessary research before deciding to sign on to an unpaid internship opportunity. Piper Center staff are available to help with any questions or concerns, and we strongly encourage students to talk with us before approaching an organization with questions about compensation. Students may receive pay from an organization during their internship AND register for academic internship credit through St. Olaf. A few resources students should be aware of: