What Students Want to Know about Internships

Stop! Hold on. Is all this internship information passing you by, over your head?
Perhaps you’re missing some of the basics. If you were asked to describe what an internship is in five sentences, how would you?

Start by reviewing these FAQs by UO students about internships:

  1. What is an internship?

An internship is a structured opportunity for you to learn, grow, and contribute in a professional setting. There are many variations of internships:  They might be paid or unpaid, part-time or full-time, taken for credit or no credit.  They could be local, national, or abroad. The goal of an internship is to gain direct work experience in a chosen field.

  1. How do I find one?

    It is best to use a variety of resources and search strategies.

  • Word-of-mouth [networking with friends, advisers, family] is how many students find internships.
  • The UO Career Center’s DuckConnect database provides students with access to a high volume of internship and job postings and an On-Campus Practice Interviews program, plus information sessions and recruiting events where you can connect with employers in-person.
  • Some academic departments have internship postings and information on their websites, or offer their own internship and job databases.
  1. How do I find a paid internship?

    Internship opportunities should state whether they are paid or unpaid. Compensation can take the form in an hourly salary, a one-time stipend, housing, reimbursement for travel expenses, organization perks, e.g. tickets to their events, etc. The more hours the internship requires means the more evaluation necessary to determine how much of a beneficial opportunity it may be compared to earning wages somewhere else.

  1. What do I need to know about unpaid internships?

If you are pursuing an unpaid internship, federal guidelines for unpaid internships have been created to help protect an unpaid intern and ensure that the experience is about learning for the student rather than unpaid labor for the company. When evaluating an internship, consider how the company’s internship measures up to these expectations.

  1. How do I get academic credit for an internship?

As an enrolled UO student you may be able to obtain academic credit for your internship experience through the Career Center’s Go Intern! Program OR through your academic department.

Please be aware that you may not request academic credit retroactively after you have completed an internship.  We advise that you consult with the Career Center and/or your academic advisor prior to starting any internship experience.

  1. How much times does an internship take?

    Unlike employment, internships are for a predetermined length of time, generally less than a year. Paid opportunities usually require more hours a week than unpaid. If an unpaid internship time commitment doesn’t allow you time to earn wages in a job, consider your options. The time commitment should reflect how substantial the position/internship project is

    7. How many hours can an intern work?

    Similar to employment, no more than 40 hours a week. Internships tend to require more hours during the summer. It is common for an internship to be less than 15 hours a week, especially when unpaid.

    8. How do I apply for an internship?

    Internship positions should include how to apply, who to contact, and what documents are required. This will likely include a resume, cover letter, and sometimes work samples. Tailor your documents to

    9. What is the value of doing an internship?

    The reasons for pursuing an internship are many!

  • Explore one or more of your career interests in a realistic professional setting
  • Learn about particular industries, companies, and organizations
  • Consider whether a particular career direction or industry is a good fit for you
  • Develop new skills and refine the skills you already possess
  • Apply all that classroom learning in a practical setting.
  • Build your resume
  • Develop great examples of your skill sets for future job interviews
  • Make connections (network) with people in your future career area
  • Develop professional relationships that will be mutually beneficial in the future
  • Have fun, feel a sense of accomplishment, see yourself as an emerging professional!
  1. Can I do more than one internship?

    Yes and completing more than one internship is seen as an additional accomplishment, especially when the first internship experience was shorter than six months. For academic credit you might be limited to 12 credits, however more than one internship can be completed to earn credits. Check with your academic advisor.

When should I start looking for an internship?

Summer is the peak season for internships and hiring often starts in winter; this is why the UO Internship, Volunteer and Summer Job fair is held in February each year. Internships are offered year round. Consider how far along you are in your major’s sequence of classes. Students typically complete internships in their Junior and Senior years.

12. What if I’m an international student?

International students may be limited to paid internships opportunities due to restrictions on earning wages while abroad as a student, i.e. a ten hour a week limit.

The J-1 Student Intern category is available to foreign students currently enrolled in and pursuing a degree at a postsecondary academic institution outside the United States, who want to undertake an internship in the United States in order to fulfill the educational objectives of their current degree programs at their home institutions. Internships must be full-time (at least 32 hours per week) and may not be more than 12 consecutive months in duration.

Scholarship Season: Prepare Now for Next Year

Scholarship season is coming to a close. Did you apply for any? If you have at least another year before graduation, take a moment now to consider planning ahead. Research at least three scholarships that would be most beneficial to you. If you’re serious about going abroad for an internship, start saving now! Remember that financial aid during the summer is different than fall-spring. I just applied for the Gilman Scholarship, which I’m dependent on in order to intern in Brazil this summer.

Here are my top five tips from my scholarship application experience:

GPA matters! Not all scholarships require a great GPA, however you better be able to explain a good reason why you have below a 3.50 in an essay if that’s your case. Check your current GPA, and use a GPA calculator to determine how your intended future grades will affect your score.

Transcripts from previous institutions. If you’re a transfer student like me, review the process of obtaining transcripts. Unofficial transcripts are often accepted from previous colleges, since those transferred credits should appear on an official transcript at your current institution. If you’ve forgotten your student login anywhere try calling enrollment services.

Part-time job. Scholarship applications require time an effort, sometimes more so than a final term paper. Expect to put in at least 20 hours of work all together for several applications. Attend any scholarship workshops/webinars available; I’ve found these to always be beneficial.

Long term goals. Personal, college, and career. What are your goals for each? You need to have a developed plan for each beyond “I want to do X, Y, Z.” This can cause writers block. I found the key is to just begin writing notes, brainstorming, mind-mapping; don’t feel you have to start with the essay.

Fresh pair of eyes (not your own). You know your story front and back. You know it so well that your eyes may glaze over some written mistakes, which are fatal mistakes for scholarship applications. Have a friend, advisor, and writing lab tutor read your mini autobiography. Edit at least five rough drafts.

Good luck on your applications! Remember not everyone wins, but there is no loss in improving your writing skills and developing your life story. By the way, if you haven’t joined an honors society yet, these often a great source of scholarship opportunities! I recommend the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, www.nscs.org

Using Body Language to Your Advantage During an Interview

Hold on a second – How is your posture right now? Take a moment to audit your body language. Now imagine you’re in an interview. What would you do differently? Your nonverbal communication during an interview can be just as important as what you say.

It’s natural to make judgments and assessments when people first meet. Those first impressions can significantly affect decisions about who gets hired.  The goal is to display postures that show confidence, but not out power the interviewer.

Here are five body language tips to present yourself as best as possible:

Rehearse your gestures. In addition to practicing how to respond to questions also practice your body language beyond the handshake. Check your campus career center for practice interviews with employers.

Stay off your phone.
Don’t check your phone while you wait to be interviewed. Looking down at it creates a low power pose first impression. It can also cause you to fumble the handshake as you put it away. Out of sight, out of mind.

Don’t create barriers.
Minor detail, but avoid placing objects, such as a pen or folder, between you and the interviewer. Place the items to the side. Also remember to keep your hands at your sides or behind you, not crossed.

It’s rude to stare! The absence of any nonverbal communication at all is uncomfortable; a blank stare typically means anger or disinterest. Nod and shake when appropriate and maintain eye contact.

Look them in both eyes. If you’re only looking a person in the eye, literally just one and not both, you’re probably nervous and feel unprepared. Take a deep breath, ask for clarification if needed, and remember it’s fine to occasionally break eye contact.

You’ve got this! Your written communication in your resume got you the interview, you know what to say, but practice your nonverbal communication too. Remember that your eyes show a true smile.

The Bridge between College and Career

As the exhilaration of graduation approaches, so too does the fear of the first job for many seniors. Those who never visited their campus career center best do so in their remaining collegiate days. Bridging the gap between college and career will likely involve an internship, especially for those in the media professions field. Here are several top tips for entering the real world.

Create a new routine. 

Rolling out of bed and off to class won’t work too well at your new workplace. Appearance matters. Start with a reality check of you sleep hygiene. Bedtime is not the time to binge watch on Netflix. You know the science by now that light prevents your body’s production of melatonin, not to mention bags under your eyes. Even your light emitting e-book reader may be keeping you up longer than you intended. Instead of reading, try falling asleep to an audiobook (set a timer) or journal. Whatever you decide, just at least try to improve on your current bedtime routine.

Invest in your relationships.

Going to class with friends is way different than going to work together, if you happen to both get hired at the same place. Decide now which friendships are worth keeping close. You want to maintain a life outside of work, and that is not possible with your coworkers.

Learn how to cook.

You might’ve despised campus food, but you’re likely to miss the convenience once you’re away. Eating out is expensive and more often than not an unhealthy choice. Challenge yourself to learn at least a few basic recipes to benefit not only your waistline, but you budget as well.

De-clutter your home to calm your mind.

Now that you’re ready to graduate, look at all the papers from classes you’ve hoarded! It’s time to scale down. Being surrounded by excess stuff negatively impacts your health and will make the transition period more difficult. Take a weekend to tidy up.

Practice Interviews and Portfolio Reviews: Success Begins with Preparation

It’s week eight of winter term (can you believe it?), which aside from prompting panic over approaching finals, also marks the beginning of spring term registration. PR students should visit the UO Career Center and consider the Portfolio Reviews Workshop.

The Portfolio Review is treated by the UO SOJC as a model of assessment and is a requirement for graduation. The event is held at the end of J454: PR Campaigns.  Besides the opportunity to prepare in the workshop, there is another resource on campus that is open to any major and is good practice for presenting yourself to professionals: Practice Interviews at the UO Career Center.

The UO Career Center’s Practice Interview Program provides an opportunity to practice interview skills, gain confidence and receive feedback from a hiring professional. Guest employers conduct practice interviews with students and provide immediate feedback on their interviewing skills. Interviews are 45 minutes in length: 30 minutes for the interview with 10-15 minutes of feedback.

What is similar about the portfolio review to a practice interview? In the review, you present and receive feedback on your best classwork, alongside pre-professional work in internships, freelance work, Allen Hall PR, etc. The same skills apply to an interview: you want to show confidence about your experience and know how to respond vs. react to feedback. Here are three more benefits from both:

Preparation. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare will help calm nerves the next time you’re in front of an employer. Communicate evidence of your skills and abilities. Strategically highlight experiences, skills, and knowledge related to the industry and job.

Face-to-Face. Presenting yourself professionally on paper is different than in person. Practice telling your story verbally and in conversation.
S.O.A.R. The Practice Interviews are not for a position, but rather the experience of being asked behavioral interview questions. This interview technique is similar to how a student is asked to explain their portfolio pieces in a review:

S – Present the Situation and the role you played.
O – Identify the Obstacles you faced.
A – Describe your Actions.
R – Summarize the Results.

Employers who have participated include: FBI, REI, Ninkasi, Starbucks, Teach for America, City of Eugene, Kidsports, the Eugene Ems, and more. Interviews are full this term, however you may join the waitlist. Look forward to more practice interviews this spring.

For more information contact
Tina Haynes, UO Career Center
On-Campus Recruiting Coord.
541-346-6006
thaynes@uoregon.edu