Internship Information

An internship is a great opportunity to get experience working for a company or firm that will enhance your skills in a particular area related to an industry of interest. An internship typically will last a fixed amount of time and ranges in length of time. Internships last for any length of time between one week and 12 months with renewal options. Internships may also be part-time or full-time. They are usually part-time if offered during a university semester and full-time if offered during the summer or winter when they typically last 4-12 weeks.

Note: Although extremely rare, on occasion a fraudulent posting may make its way into Handshake's job/internship listings. Please visit our Fraudulent Postings and Preventative Measures page for tips on how to avoid falling victim to this illegal activity.

How to Make the Most of Your Internship

How to Make the Most of Your Internship

To start on the right foot in one of the most important "jobs" you will ever have, read these tips to excel in your internship, avoid some of the common pitfalls and ensure you and your employer have a positive experience.

  • Agree in writing what your job responsibilities will be. Most organizations with internship programs have agreement forms for you to sign. Be sure that this agreement represents what you wish to get from the internship as well.

  • Because an internship is a work-learning experience, you should periodically evaluate your experience to make sure your are getting from it what you expected. Meet regularly with your supervisor to discuss whether you are meeting your goals and their goals, get feedback on your performance, and to clarify assignments and tasks before heading in the wrong direction.

  • Be a dependable employee! Dependability can be demonstrated in many ways. For example, don't forget to call if you're sick or going to arrive late. This lets your supervisor know your job is important to you.

  • Plan to work hard and do more than is expected. Avoid "it's not my job" thinking. Take the initiative and ask for additional assignments once you've completed yours.

  • Learn the "corporate culture" of your organization and be willing to adapt to it. Organizations expect their employees to "fit in" and accept the corporate culture. If you don't understand it, you are more likely to make errors in political etiquette that can hurt your progress. For example, even though your supervisor told you the official starting time is 8:00am, when do most of the staff arrive and begin working? How do you learn what the culture is? Observe coworker's behaviors and when in doubt, ask questions.

  • Develop and utilize strong interpersonal communication skills, including both oral and written communication. Every job, including technical ones, will require some degree of personal interaction. Learn to listen carefully to be sure you fully understand instructions or requests. Demonstrate patience and sensitivity with others, avoiding public confrontations or complaining. Learn the art of tact when working on a team which includes being receptive to other's input and knowing when to compromise. With written work, be sure you've proofread it carefully for content, spelling and grammar before submitting it.

  • Another aspect of good communication skills is developing relationships with your coworkers. Get to know and be known by others in your work environment...your professional growth depends on it. A friendly attitude can also help you tap into your organization's "grapevine". Of course, this relationship building doesn't mean socializing the hours away at the expense of job duties.

  • Leave your internship with a good recommendation from your supervisor and stay in touch - networking is the heart of a good job search, especially if you decide that this is the career field that you want to enter after graduation.

  • Finally, the key to a successful transition into your new internship is to take the initiative and do the best you can. It is your chance to learn, contribute, and develop skills and behaviors you'll use throughout your future careers.

Paid vs Unpaid Internships

Explore Paid vs Unpaid Internships

As you evaluate an internship opportunity, you should be aware that The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division developed a six-factor test for determining whether workers are to be considered “interns” or “employees” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The guidelines below will help you determine if the position should be considered an unpaid/credit internship or paid part time job.

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to that which would be given in an educational environment.
  2. The internship is for the benefit of the trainee.
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but work under close observation.
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded.
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the completion of the internship.
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

Click here to view Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act published by the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division for more details.

Prepare to Intern

Internship Supersites

There are endless options for honing your skills outside the classroom. Interning can help you learn about a career, meet professionals, gain skills and knowledge, or perhaps try out a potential employer. Opportunities can be either paid, unpaid, or for academic credit. Be sure to check out Handshake for internship listings on and off campus.

Explore these databases to find an internship in your industry of interest:

UC San Diego Academic Internship Program
UC San Diego Research Experience & Applied Learning Portal
Cyber-Sierra's Natural Resources
Intern Abroad
Volunteer Match
Vounteer Abroad

For additional help, come into the Career Services Center for drop-in hours or schedule an appointment with a Career Advisor via Handshake.