Internship Basics

You may have heard the word internship and thought it referred to an on-campus job.  In reality, internships can include any supervised, work-related experiences related to your major field of study and/or your career interest.  Internships can also occur in a clinical, research, or traditional work setting.  Most importantly, internships allow you to apply what you have learned in the classroom and develop career skills.

There are many benefits of internships:

  • Provides you with the real-world experience you will need to successfully attain a full-time job in your field.
  • Alerts you to the skills that employers demand of prospective employees.
  • Allows you to test out possibilities by exploring your interests and using your skills in a professional, working environment.
  • Maybe paid or unpaid, may or may not offer academic credit.
  • May include opportunities in the corporate, government and nonprofit sectors.
  • Offers employers fresh ideas to creatively respond to real business problems.
  • Provides networking opportunities in the field.
  • May result in a full-time employment offer.

When to Intern

It is best to start looking for an internship at minimum one semester prior to your desired start date – see next section.  Also, take note of the internship program timing of the employer and/or industry.  Some companies require application to roles months in advance of the start date.  When in doubt, speak with the employer HR or recruitment contacts for more information.

Want to learn how to maximize your internship?

Self-study online modules are now available for current UIC students on Blackboard.  Each online module can be completed in less than 10 minutes.  Note:  Students will need to register for the Career Readiness 101 online course on Blackboard to access the course (non-credit):

Finding Internships

  • Plan to spend several months and many hours looking for an internship. You will have to apply to many opportunities to land a great internship.
  • Explore logistics: Assess if your college or department offers an internship course for credit.  Also, consider if you can afford to do a paid or unpaid internship.


  • Focus: Determine the type of organization you want to work at and what type of role within the organization you want to explore. You will be much more successful if you are targeted in your search versus applying to every internship you see.


  • Polish your resume and cover letter.  Both are important tools to communicate your strengths and how you will be an asset as an intern to a potential employer. In addition to your strengths and direct work experiences, you can also include related experiences such as course projects, student leadership, and volunteer work.
  • Get help finding internships – Make an appointment or stop in at Career Services drop-in hours with a Career Services advisor in our office to discuss your career goals, narrow your options, and/or help you polish your resume/cover letter. You can also visit your school’s internship office and/or career center to find internships related to your field of study and obtain other help.
  • Network to find out about opportunities – Use your network of friends, family members, faculty, and anyone else you know to discover organizations in your field, and potential contacts within them. You can also network and look for opportunities at our career fairs, where employers often have both internship and full-time opportunities.


  • Student Employment provides assistance in finding on- and off-campus student employment.

Schedule a Career Advising Appointment