The most important part of getting an internship is understanding how the process works, as well as being familiar with the language and vocabulary of different internship opportunities and applications processes.
First, internships can have a number of different names.
In some cases, particularly in fields that use "hard skills" like construction, architecture or carpentry an internship might be called an "apprentice" meaning that instead of using internships, students will take on "apprenticeships."
Other fields might use the term "service learning" or "fellowship."
Below are more detailed definitions of each of these terms:
Internship: A temporary position (part- or full-time) that emphasizes skill building and on-the-job training.
Fellowship: A fellowship is similar to an internship, and is a work and/or research (often academic) experience that lasts for 1-2 years.
In some parts of the world, the term fellowship is used in place of internship. Fellowships are generally more structured and competitive than internships, and professionals at all levels might apply.
Apprenticeship: An on-the-job training opportunity, usually an essential element of learning a trade.
Service Learning: Service learning is blend of classroom learning and community service. This differs from an internship in that service learning rarely offers a paid position, and spends a significant amount of time in the classroom.
Mentorship: A mentorship refers to relationship between an experienced professional and a less experienced mentee or protege. During the internship experience, it is common for an intern to be matched with a "mentor" who will give them advice and help them succeed. Mentorships also exist outside on the internship world, all the way up to the executive level.
In addition to the types of internships, there are a few important words to know when dealing with the process of applying for an internship that you might not be familiar with:
Resume/CV: You may know what a resume is, but the term CV is probably somewhat unfamiliar. CV stands for Curriculum Vitae, which is exactly the same as a resume. The term CV is most commonly used outside of the United States, but can sometimes appear on US internship applications. A resume or CV is a list of all of your relevant schooling, degrees and work experience. It is the place to spotlight all of the qualifications for the internship or job to which you are applying.
Cover letter: A cover letter is a one-page document that acts as a "supplement" to your resume or CV when you are applying for an internship.
There are many resources, including a section on this website, about how to write a winning cover letter. The internship cover letter is your chance to stand out, and to expand on some of the qualifications you listed on your resume. Cover letters can be particularly important when you are applying for an internship, especially for those with little work experience.
Informational Interview: An informational interview is an interview with someone who has a career that you’d like to know more about. These interviews do not necessarily lead to employment or an internship, but are a great way to figure out if a certain field might be right for you, and to find out more about the types of internship opportunities that would be available at that company or in that field.
Job Shadowing: Job shadowing is a short term placement with a professional, where a student spends so time following the professional in their daily tasks This can be another great way to get some ideas for internships before actually applying.
Business Dress/Business Casual: Business dress refers to the stand dress code for most businesses (although it is important to note that every business does things a little differently). Generally, business dress is slacks and button-down shirts for men (usually with a ties) and skirts and blouses for women. Sometimes business dress will mean suits. Business casual is slightly more dressed down, with khakis and polo shirt being acceptable. Jeans are becoming more and more acceptable in the workplace, but should only be work if a supervisor specifically says it’s okay.