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Prehealth & Prelaw

Frequently Asked Questions about Internships

What is the difference between an internship and an Externship?
An externship is an unpaid position with a company of your choice for a 40 hour week during Winter, Spring or Summer breaks. The extern program is administered by University Career Services, and students are placed in externships by the UCS staff. For full information, please see the Extern web site.

An internship is administered by the individual organization desiring interns, therefore, its structure and policies will vary. Internships may last anywhere from a few weeks to a semester to a full year, they may be full or part-time, and they may be paid or volunteer positions. Some intern sponsors require that a student receive academic credit for the internship.

Will UCS place me in an internship?
Since requirements and deadlines vary a great deal, you are responsible for identifying and applying for internships yourself. However, we offer assistance in the form of individual advising, internship listings, and informational sessions. You may also attend a Jefferson Extern Workshop which offers specific guidance on contacting potential sponsors. Please see our <Internship General Information> page for more information.

When are most internship deadlines?
Application deadlines are set by the individual organization and therefore vary widely. Some well-established annual programs have quite early deadlines (e.g., November or December for a summer placement), whereas some smaller companies may not know whether they will require summer interns until March or April (and sometimes later).

It is wise to begin your summer internship search early in the Fall semester so as not to miss early deadlines; then return to UCS periodically through Spring semester, continuing to research new notices as they arrive, until you find a placement.

Do I need a resume to apply for internships?
This depends on the sponsoring organization, but most organizations will require a resume and/or an application. Read notices carefully and follow the instructions accurately. If you need a resume, UCS has several handouts and numerous books on resume-writing, as well as a resume critique service to assist you.

Aren't internships just for fourth-year students?
Many organizations prefer their interns to be upper-level or graduate students, but will allow any college student to apply. Although you will be most competitive for internships the summer after your third year, an interest in the field (and sometimes academic or previous work background) can help you compete at a younger age. You are encouraged to begin interning as early as you can in order to get as much career-related experience as possible before graduation.

How can I get academic credit for an internship?
You can gain academic credit in one of two ways. UVA has only one formal internship program, the University Internship Program (UIP). It is offered through the Psychology/Sociology Departments and is available to rising and current fourth-year students of any major. The UIP is usually a two-semester, eight- credit course requiring ten hours of work per week in the field; however, other program options are also available (including a summer program). Interested students should apply the second semester of their third year to Nancy Gansneder, Program Director, University Internship Program, 918 Emmet Street North, Suite 300, (804) 982-5552.

If you independently acquire an internship and need to receive credit, it may also be possible for you to arrange credit independently with a dean, adviser or professor who teaches a related subject. In partnership with them, you may arrange an independent study project that incorporates your internship experience.

How important is it to get experience by interning while I am in college?
Internships are of great importance for two reasons:

First (and probably most important), you will not know if your chosen career field is right for you until you have worked in the actual setting and had exposure to people doing the type of work you imagine. Classroom experience and real-world work experience are two very different things. You will make a wiser personal choice by "testing" a career field before graduation, so that you have an accurate picture of the work involved and whether it will be fulfilling for you.

Second, more and more employers are making hiring decisions based on demonstrated career-related experience during the college years. In order to be competitive in the job market, you should be able to show-- with paying jobs, volunteer positions or internships-- previous exposure to and seriousness about the career field.

How can I get help with deciding what internship I should pursue?
UCS career counselors can assist with initial exploration, final decision-making and application procedures. Make an appointment through the UCS Information Desk or attend an internship information session as early as possible to get general information on your internship search. The Annual Internship Fair is an opportunity to meet actual internship sponsors in order to decide if a particular internship program will be a good fit for you.

University Career Services and Career Services Library
P.O. Box 400134, Charlottesville, Virginia 22904-4134
Phone: (434) 924-8900 Fax: (434) 924-7890
© 2003 University of Virginia Career Services