Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I do an internship?
While internships have often been considered optional, more and more students are finding that without internships, they are far less marketable for the post-graduation job market than their counterparts who have internship experience. An internship will help you attain new "real world" job skills that complement your academic work and make you more competitive in the job market. Also, internships let you try o" a career field or industry to see how well it fits you, your interests, values, and talents. You'll also have wonderful opportunities to start building a network of professionals who can serve as employment references for you, or be sources for future job leads. Probably most impressive opportunity is that some interns get asked to continue full-time employment at their internship site. Regardless, just having an internship experience will make the first post-graduation job easier to get, and it may increase your chances for a larger salary.
How do I find an internship?
Actively use all your resources as a UMass Lowell student:
- Make an appointment with a career counselor to discuss what the Career & Co-op Center has to offer you as you prepare and search for the right internship. Call 978-934-2355 for more information.
- Talk to faculty, alumni, friends and neighbors about your interest in an internship. Tell as many people as possible what you're looking for so they can help identify opportunities that would be right for you.
- Identify companies that interest you and visit their websites to explore whether internship programs are offered there. If their website doesn't discuss internship programs, call or visit the organization to discuss how you might create an internship there that involves your interests and lets you gain valuable experience.
- Use the web by exploring internship openings in your field of interest. Some job sites post internships, as well. Just use "intern" as a key word in the site's search engine.
What is the Washington Center?
The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars offers qualified students from all majors the opportunity to work and learn in Washington, DC, during a semester or over the summer.
How do I choose the right internship?
- Don't settle for just any internship. Pick the internship that best fits your personality and interests.
- Identify the fields that interest you and the type of work you want to experience.
- Research the internship before you accept it.
- Is the training formal or "hands on"?
- What are typical intern projects?
- What are the general expectations for an intern?
- Has the company offered internships in the past and, if so, inquire about speaking to former interns about the position.
What should I avoid in an internship?
- Unless you're seeking office experience specifically, avoid internships described using phrases such as "office work," "data entry," or "unspecified computer work." These internships may involve only administrative or clerical tasks.
- Avoid internships described as "shadowing" or "observing" as you may not be able to work hands-on.
- Avoid internships described as "promotions" unless you desire to go into event planning. These positions usually involve, for example, having interns hand out bumper stickers at an event.
How can I make the most of my internship?
- Treat the internship like a job. Dress professionally and always be on time.
- Write everything down; jot down all tasks to prioritize, and develop efficient work habits.
- Keep track of your progress. Write down dates and times when projects are completed. Also summarize the progress of these projects with monthly performance reports to track your achievements.
- Ask plenty of questions. Find out how your work fits in with other work that the company is doing.
- Be honest if you're in over your head. Alert your supervisor if you can't complete a project, so he or she can make alternate plans.
- Take initiative and be outgoing. Pitch and share ideas with professionals in the company.
- Be friendly and cultivate professional relationships. Join teams and volunteer to help with last-minute projects.
- Gain insight. Evaluate and compare experience with what you learned in school. Also learn what job prospects/descriptions suit you.
What should I expect when working at an internship?
- Anticipate some menial tasks. You will be low on the company totem pole. Expect to do some office, mailroom and other "go-fer" work.
- Expect some real responsibility. You should get a chance to work hands-on with important company responsibilities, even though the work might be at an entry-level.
- Expect compensation like a paycheck, a stipend or class credit. If the company is for-profit, federal labor laws mandate that all workers must receive compensation.
- Ask your supervisor for a written recommendation for future employment prospects and for permission to use his or her name as a positive employment reference.
- Send thank you notes promptly to everyone in the company for whom you worked.
- Maintain contact with your supervisor. Let him or her know about your ongoing career plans and goals.