Internships can be a valuable way for iSchool students to gain experience and try out different career options prior to completion of their graduate program. The College of Information Studies works to build relationships and facilitate internship opportunities with both public and private sector organizations.
What is an internship? What makes it different than a job?
An internship is a supervised work experience that provides you the opportunity to apply knowledge learned in the classroom to a real-life professional setting. Internships can be paid or unpaid and may or may not be taken for academic credit. Unlike a job, an internship must be structured in a way that is educationally beneficial for the intern, as well as providing an educated worker for the employing organization. Administrative or other non-substantive work should be kept to a minimum. Here at the iSchool, we expect that organizations sponsoring interns clearly describe the learning outcomes and skills gained in any advertised internship opportunity.
What are the advantages for the student and the employing organization?
The most obvious advantage for a student is that an internship allows him or her to explore career options and gain experience that can help secure a full-time job in the future. Quite often, the best internships allow the student to walk away with a specific tangible accomplishment or project that can be used in a portfolio or later cited on a resume. Internships also allow students to begin a network with professionals in their field.
For the sponsoring organization, interns can provide opportunities to complete special projects, build relationships with the iSchool, and recruit for new professionals trained in the most current expertise in the information management field. Employers can provide valuable feedback to the iSchool on the skills and knowledge they need from their workforce.
How do I find an internship?
The iSchool advertises internships on the ISCHOOLDISCUSSION and ISCHOOLCAREERTALK listservs. In addition, students may find internships through student and professional organizations, the university Career Center or their professors or other contacts. Students can also find valuable internship opportunities by inquiring about possibilities to specific organizations.
Securing a desirable internship is often as competitive as any other type of job search. Students should expect to prepare a professional, targeted resume and cover letter, as well as a portfolio of writing or other work samples and their transcripts. Additionally, working on your interview and presentation skills will allow you to put your best foot forward.
How do I receive academic credit for my internship? What is the difference between an internship and a field study?
With the approval of a supervising professor, students can register for an independent study course to receive credit for an unpaid internship. The Student Affairs Office can help students identify an appropriate professor, but students are ultimately responsible for securing a faculty supervisor and ensuring that their internship complies with the professor’s requirements for receiving credit. At minimum, students should expect to complete some sort of final project or deliverable at the conclusion of their internship in order to receive credit.
iSchool field study courses are distinct from internships. Each field study instructor identifies appropriate study sites and the academic requirements for the course independently; students with questions about field study opportunities for a particular semester should contact the appropriate faculty member for details.