What is an Internship?

In the past few years, it’s become increasingly common for college students to have a paid or unpaid internship under their belt by the time they graduate. To be competitive in the workforce and give yourself a leg up in the job search after graduation, it’s more necessary than ever to apply for meaningful internships.

In order to figure out that type of internship would be right for you, here are some answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about internships.

What exactly is an internship?

Simply put, an internship is on-the-job work experience that is either related to your career interests or current field of study. Internships can be paid or unpaid, and can take place during the academic year or during the summer. All internships are short-term but can last anywhere from a single week to a full year. Most internships function as training opportunities and some, especially ones that take place during the school year, can be research projects where a professor or a company wants a student to study a new topic of interest.

What type of experience can you get out of an internship?

Regardless of when the internship takes place or how much it pays, the experience can provide you with a number of invaluable opportunities. For example, you can:

  • Learn about different work environments and get a taste of the “real world.”
  • Build new skills and tweak ones you already have.
  • Broaden your professional network, gaining contacts and future recommenders along the way.
  • Benefit from one-on-one mentorships.
  • Get a sense of what happens in multiple departments at a company.
  • Try out a career without having to make a full commitment.
  • Possibly get college credit (if it’s an unpaid internship).
  • Turn an internship into a full-time job opportunity after college.

Not every internship is the same, and what you do day to day can vary widely depending on the company. What’s most important is to understand what you’re going to get out of an internship and to check if that aligns with your career goals.

Some may give you more hands-on experience and others may provide a chance to shadow key executives or take part in weekly meetings. One company may offer you the chance to dive deeply into a single project and present your findings to company leadership; another may give you the chance to work across departments, giving you broad exposure to many parts of a company at once. Asking yourself what you want to get out of an internship is critical to knowing what’s going to be the best fit for you.

Now that you have the basics under your belt, check out the internships available on WayUp and get ready to find the perfect one for you!


Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Follow Up and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

Should I Intern as a College Sophomore?

Internships are one of the most valuable ways for college students to gain professional experience and exposure to new industries. In fact, an internship can give you a significant leg up in a number of ways, including building your professional network and helping you develop new skills. If you’re entering your sophomore year, you may be wondering about the pros and cons of doing an internship while still an underclassman. For example, will you have time to balance a packed class schedule with a part-time job?

Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to intern as a college sophomore.

Identify what you want to learn.

Getting an internship solely as a resume booster isn’t bad, but it isn’t ideal. Internships are a fantastic way to get career clarity and exposure to industry networks, so having a goal in mind will help guide your search to a meaningful internship.

Maybe you have a burgeoning interest in PR, but you’re not sure if that’s what you want to do after college. Or perhaps you’re trying to decide if an office job is for you or if you want to dive into other creative pursuits. When you’re clear on what it is that you want to learn — about a company, industry, or about yourself — then it’s time to dive into the internship search.

Be honest about your other commitments.

In order to decide if interning as a sophomore is right for you, it’s essential to think about your time commitments and to be realistic about how much time you can devote to an internship. When doing this, be sure to take into account your coursework and extracurriculars as well as the additional time needed to study, exercise or hang out with friends. Once you have an idea of your availability, you’ll be able to make an informed decision without running the risk of overextending yourself.

Assess your financial situation.

One of the most important factors when determining whether to take on an internship is to assess your financial situation. For example, if you currently need extra income to support yourself during the semester (or the summer) then you should be focusing only on paid internships or part-time jobs. On the other hand, if you have financial support from other sources, then you might consider taking an unpaid internship if it will offer you great exposure or invaluable work experience.

Regardless of whether you decide to do an internship during your sophomore year, it’s important to remember that internships are meant to be opportunities for learning. Think about your circumstances, how you want to grow and what skills you want to build, and make a decision that seems right for you.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How Do I Get a Job in Another City or State? and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell Me About an Accomplishment That You’re Most Proud Of.

6 Ways to Impress Your Boss

Whether it’s a paid or unpaid internship, an entry-level job or a part-time job, there are several things you can do to impress your new boss right off the bat. Following these steps will help you learn your job quickly and make a positive impression on everyone at the company.

Here’s a guide of what you should do in your first month on the job.

1. Set up meetings with team members

Make a point of setting up individual meetings with your co-workers so that you fully understand their roles and how their positions interact with yours. No need to make them formal — these can even be walks or coffee chats. Be proactive and focus on learning everything there is to know about the company. Once you get a firm grasp of the inner workings of the organization, your value becomes much greater and so do your chances of impressing your boss.

Added bonus: Your co-workers will appreciate that you took the time to get to know them and that you’re taking an interest in their work.

2. Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is a key part of the learning process and your manager will be expecting you to do so. Asking questions not only shows your interest in the company but also your commitment to learning and growing with the organization. Challenge yourself to ask at least one question about any new task you’re given. This will help you learn new things more quickly and speed up your transition into the new role.

3. Try to own at least one big project

Being proactive about getting involved in company projects is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to the role and to show your manager that you’re enthusiastic about the opportunities available to you. Focus on a particular challenge the company is trying to overcome or an innovative idea that they haven’t had time to execute. Volunteer to take on the project and bring it to fruition. This will show your boss that you’re serious about making a difference and adding value to the organization.

4. Be a team player

Collaborating with your co-workers is another wonderful way to demonstrate value. Offer to help your team members with projects that are a good fit for your skill set and try to anticipate challenges that you might be able to address. Being a team player will give your boss a better sense of how you handle tasks and show them that you’re committed to the role.

5. Send weekly progress reports

Sending weekly reports is a great way of showing that you’re organized and focused on results. Be sure to send this over email at the end of the week and include everything you completed that week as well as outlining the things that you still need to learn and areas where you hope to improve. This will show your manager that you’re self-aware and able to proactively assess your own performance. It will also give him/her insight into where they can be most helpful in your onboarding.

6. Ask for feedback

Setting up a meeting with your boss is a big win. This will help you understand their expectations so that you can ensure you’re meeting them. Come prepared with three questions to ask and take notes during the meeting. Your questions can include things like: What keeps you at night? What do you expect of me? How will my performance be measured? At the next meeting, outline the steps you’ve taken to address your manager’s comments and show that you’re proactive about meeting their expectations.

Whether it’s your first job or your fifth, starting a new job will have you thinking about how to impress your boss. By following these steps, you’ll be sure to nail your first few weeks at the job and make a positive and lasting impression.


Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 3 Ways to be More Productive at Work and find answers to common interview questions such as Why Do You Want to Work Here?.