One of the top reasons that students look for internships is to gain experience outside of the classroom and earn credit towards a degree. In most instances, this is highly encouraged by colleges, universities and professors. But planning and internship, and making sure that all of the credits transfer is half the battle.
The career office (or internship coordination office, if your university has one) should be the first stop on your internship search journey.
There you will find databases and counselors full of internship knowledge, and who can help you decide what kind of position will be the best fit for you. They’ll also be able to walk you through the credit system at your university, to make sure that you get the credits you are entitled to at the end of your semester, and that these count (ideally) towards your major. Before you get there, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions:
Working with your career services or internship coordination office will also give you the added bonus of having an outside person involved with your internship who can help you with any inter-office issues you have along the way, and can give you advice on how to get the most out of your experience.
If your school does not have a career office, or you have a professor with whom you are particularly comfortable, you may way to ask him or her to help you coordinate. In many smaller college towns, professors can be particularly well connected in their respective fields, which can give you and edge when applying for an internship.
Your professor can further help you navigate the credit transfer process, and serve as an advisor for any additional work or papers that you have to write during your internship. Often times, interning for credit involves much more than showing up for work each day.
Some schools will require a mid-term and final paper or write-up of what you learned through the internship, others will require something more in-depth, such as a research project on a particular campaign or issue that relates to your internship field. Your professor may guide you through this process, and may be responsible for the grading of your internship, with input from your supervisor.
The final option when interning for credit is to take a chance, that is take a position without involving your college or university, and then submit a request for credits once the internship is over. This is not recommended, since more schools will require some sort of check-in or written assignment during your internship. Again, this is a much more complicated and dangerous path to take, but it is possible that an opportunity, such as a volunteer placement turned full time position or a last minute opening and your uncle’s motor vehicle plant, could come up, and you decide to take it. They key is begin speaking with professors and department heads as soon as possible with regards to credits, and be willing to do a little extra paperwork.