Internships 101

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?