Maximize Your Internship

Get the most out of your internship experience by going above and beyond, showing initiative and delivering results. Some helpful tips:

  • Ask for your internship offer and responsibilities in writing. Make sure you know what you’re agreeing to and what will be expected of you.
  • Schedule regular meetings with your supervisor to review your progress. Are you achieving what you expected? Where can you improve? Can you increase your scope of the project? Knowing where you stand helps you move forward with confidence.
  • Show up, everyday. Your time is short and everyday counts. The quality of your work and your attitude not whether your paid or not matter the most.
  • Go above and beyond what is expected of you. Meet more people. Ask for the 2.0 of the project.
  • Learn the organization’s culture and adapt to it. Every workplace is different, and your ability to match the work ethic and habits of your coworkers will help secure future letters of recommendation.
  • Stay in touch with your supervisor after it's all said and done. Reach back out to update them on your progress at UC San Diego, go back to the office to just never know when you may need a letter of recommendation or your paths will cross again.

Right Now, You Need Experience More Than Money

Some internships provide the chance to earn income, while others deliver hands-on experience that you might not otherwise access until well into your career. Don’t silo yourself into a single track. Think broadly from big to small companies, for profit and not-for-profit, local to non-local. Ask for advice, weigh the pros and cons.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if an opportunity qualifies as an “internship” or a “part-time job.” The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division developed a six-factor test for determining the difference under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA):

  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.

Read the complete fact sheet or contact a Career Counselor if you have questions.

Additional Internship Opportunities

Hundreds of internships are listed in UC San Diego’s Academic Internship Program and in Handshake — but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Explore these databases to find additional opportunities that might be perfect for you.


Discuss your options, compare internships and weigh the advantages of every opportunity with an experienced advisor. Drop-In Advising (no appointment necessary): MON – FRI 10:00 am – 3:00 pm One-On-One Advising (appointment required): MON – FRI 8:00 am – 4:30 pm

Make an Advisor Appointment