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What is an Internship?

It is more important than ever to participate in an internship or pre-professional experience before you look for a job upon graduation. Increasingly, employers want people with experience and an internship, or multiple internships, provides you with that experience. In the job search, having completed an internship clearly gives you an edge over those who haven’t.

You can search for and complete an internship at any point during your undergraduate or graduate education. There are even internship opportunities available for recent graduates. Starting the internship process either freshman or sophomore year allows you the flexibility to complete multiple internships in a variety of areas. By graduation, you would have a better understanding of where and how you like to work.

Internships are:

  • Short-term, supervised, pre-professional work experiences which provide you training and experience in a specific field or career area.
  • Learning experiences where you are expected to be productive and add value to the organization.
  • Available in a wide variety of fields and from a wide variety of employers.

Internships may:

  • Be paid or unpaid.
  • Be for credit or not. Check with your academic department to see if an internship is required for your major or if you have the ability to take an internship for credit as an elective that is part of your major.
  • Be formal or informal.
  • Vary in hours and length.

By participating in an internship, you may:

  • Gain valuable, hands-on, work experience in a real life career field.
  • Explore a career field of interest without making a commitment.
  • Identify an employer for full-time employment after college.
  • Evaluate and be evaluated by a potential employer.
  • Integrate and complement academic studies with on-the-job professional level experience.
  • Test personal aptitudes, abilities, and interests in relation to your career choice and job demands.
  • Develop marketable, transferable skills which employers value.
  • Provide a valuable resource to an employer and make a real world impact.

Finding an internship is:

  • Similar to finding a job. You look for opportunities and apply for them.
  • Often easier than finding a job. Employers value the opportunity to evaluate interns as potential employees and benefit from the energy and ideas interns bring to the workplace.

How Career and Internship Services Can Help With the Internship Process

  • Meet with a Career Counselor - A counselor can help you create a search plan for finding an internship, review your resume and cover letter, and practice interviewing.
  • Resume - Start your resume prior to starting the internship search process. This will provide you time to perfect the details of the document before needing to submit it with an application. Here are our different resume services:
    • Have a CRC Peer Educator review it.
    • Resume Drop-ins (5-10 minutes to meet with a counselor or Peer Educator - no appointment needed!)
    • Beginning Resume Workshop - See our Workshops page for more information.
    • Resume Critique - email or drop off your resume and it will be returned to you within 10 days.
    • Check the UMD Career Handbook for more detailed information on how to write a resume.
  • Cover Letter - The UMD Career Handbook has information and samples for writing cover letters.
  • Assessments - We offer three assessments (Strong Interest Inventory, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and StrengthsQuest) that can help explore more options if you are not quite sure what field you want to pursue for an internship.
  • Informational Interviewing - Interview professionals in the field to learn more about different careers and organizations. This is also a great way to start building your network.
  • Establish an Online Presence - We can help you establish and build your presence on various social media platforms, such as LinkedIn or Twitter. We host LinkedIn Drop-ins, to help you work on your LinkedIn profile. See our social media page for more details on the importance of social media in your internship or job search.
  • Job & Internship Fairs - The Career and Internship Services office sponsors a number of Job & Internship Fairs throughout the school year on-campus, at other local universities, and with other University of Minnesota campuses.

Resources to Start With

GoldPASS powered by Handshake

GoldPASS powered by Handshake is a free, on-line service where UMD students, alumni, and employers connect. UMD students and alumni can post resumes, view job and internship listings, register for career fairs, schedule interviews, and more. Employers can post jobs, schedule information sessions, set-up interviews, and browse for qualified applicants among registered UMD students and alumni.


A job and internship seeker’s tool for finding employment at home and abroad. Find detailed career related information for over 35 countries along with major metro areas in the United States and Canada. This resource is FREE to UMD students and alumni. Log in through GoldPASS powered by Handshake and click on the Going Global link on your GoldPASS powered by Handshake homepage.

UMD Career and Internship Services Social Media

Follow us on various social media platforms for announcements about opportunities, events, and general career related information ranging from finding and picking a major to searching for an internship to life after graduation.

  • LinkedIn: network with peers, alumni, recruiters, and UMD staff and faculty
  • Twitter: positions, articles, and event announcements
  • Facebook: articles, events, and connecting with our student staff
  • Pinterest: tips on dress, social media, internship searching, and more

General Internship Search Resources

Any links to external Web sites are provided as a courtesy. They should not be construed as an endorsement by Career and Internship Services of the content or views of the linked materials. The individual is advised to use caution and common sense when applying for any position with an organization or a private party.

Internship Programs

Many companies have structured internship programs open to students ranging from freshman status to recent graduates. This listing of companies is to help start your search and to give you ideas of what is potentially available for internships. There are opportunities for each major area of study that UMD offers and companies are located in Minnesota, regionally, and nationally.

Intern Away

Intern away is the concept of leaving your current geographic location (i.e. Duluth, Minnesota, or the Midwest) and interning with an organization in another part of the country. This could be your opportunity to: figure out if you truly could “live anywhere,” travel, expand your cultural horizons, and experience your field of interest in another area of the United States. Completing and being able to articulate an experience like this can show future employers that you have skills such as adaptability, independence, or taking initiative.

Design Your Own Internship

You may want to intern for a particular company that does not normally offer an internship in your particular area of interest. If your area of interest is within the scope of what the organization does, you could propose an internship. It is recommended that you meet with a career counselor as proposing your own internship can be somewhat more complicated than applying for internships that are advertised.

During the Internship

Make the most of your internship experience with the following steps:

  • Set personal goals: Think about what you would like to achieve during your internship. Goals can range from learning new computer skills, experiencing and deciding about the type of work environment you would like in the future, deciding if you want to be a commuter, and many more.
  • Have regular meetings with your supervisor and don’t be afraid to ask questions: Regularly meeting with your supervisor can help ensure that your internship is progressing as it should be and meeting any specified requirements. These meetings can also be your opportunity to ask any questions you may have in regards to your internship. You can also take the opportunity to build a rapport with your supervisor who will hopefully be a reference for you down the road during your job search.
  • Be professional and maintain a positive attitude: These two actions during your internship go a long way to keeping your network intact once you are finished with your internship.
  • Immerse yourself and do your best work: Ask for things to do. You don’t always have to wait for something to be assigned. Learn as much as you can about your industry and organization. Talk to people in a variety of departments and work functions to see the bigger picture of your organization.
  • Network with your colleagues: Take advantage of any networking opportunities, both in and out of your organization, that may present itself while you are interning. Building your own network while interning will be helpful for when you start looking for another internship or professional job.
  • Keep track of your accomplishments and the work you have completed: Tracking your work while you are in the midst of your internship will help you to better articulate your experience on your resume and in future interviews.
  • Leave on a positive note: Say thank you for the experience. Ask for feedback about the work you did while in the internship. Even if you don’t want to work for the company in the future, still be professional. You never know how far your co-workers’ networks span or when you may cross paths with them again.

Other Tips & Resources

After the Internship

  • Reflect upon the experience. What did you learn?
  • Update your resume. Meet with a Career Counselor or stop at Resume Drop-ins if you need help.
  • Send thank you notes to your supervisor and the colleagues you worked with closely.
  • Ask for a letter of recommendation or to use that individual as a reference.
  • Create or update your portfolio to be able to show evidence to future employers of the work you completed during your internship.
  • Build upon the experience. If you liked your internship, what can you do next to keep gaining experience that area?
  • If you didn’t like the internship setting, job duties, or the industry as a whole, meet with a Career Counselor to explore what should be your next step.

Other Tips & Resources

Additional Resources

Any links to external Web sites are provided as a courtesy. They should not be construed as an endorsement by Career and Internship Services of the content or views of the linked materials. The individual is advised to use caution and common sense when applying for any position with an organization or a private party.