University of Vermont

Internships

1. Definition of an internship and qualities of a strong internship

An internship is experiential learning that combines classroom learning with work in a professional setting. Internships can be paid, unpaid, for credit or not-for-credit, and can take place in Burlington, out-of-state, or in other countries. Internships can take many forms, but these are qualities of a strong internship:

  • Integrates classroom learning
  • Skills and knowledge learned are transferable
  • Has a defined beginning and end
  • Clear job description
  • Clear goals about what you should learn
  • Supervision by a resident expert
  • Routine feedback from an experienced supervisor
  • Resources, equipment, and facilities that support your work
  • At least six weeks in length

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2. Reasons for doing an internship

An internship offers a great opportunity to learn by doing. Internships allow someone to:

  • Gain professional experience
  • Learn about an industry
  • Narrow down career interests
  • Develop new skills
  • Earn credit, get paid, or both
  • Establish career networks and mentors
  • Build confidence
  • Make an impact on the real world
  • Learn about your own strengths, skills, and values

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3. How to find an internship: Step by Step

  • Create and polish your resume and cover letter
    See our resume and cover letter resources and examples, or go to the weekly resume workshop in the Career + Experience Hub (runs during the academic year on Mondays at 4:15pm)
  • Stop by drop in hours to get feedback on your application materials.
  • Make a list of your preferences in company/organization, type of work, location, and any other important factors.
  • Reach out to alumni, professors, friends, family, and other contacts if you want to find unlisted opportunities or “create your own internship”
  • Begin your search using websites and resources listed below. Make a list of target organizations/companies and internships that appeal to you. Use the "My Internship Search" table below to keep track of deadlines, contact, required documents, and other items to remember.
  • Send out applications. This is a like applying to college again: some internships are more competitive and are more of "reach" opportunities, whereas others are less competitive and "safe" bets. Most students apply to at least 5-6 different internships, and sometimes many more.
  • Follow up about your applications after 2 weeks. Continue to reach out to your contacts. Many internships are found through networking.

Company

Position

Requirements

Due

Applied

Name, date & method of follow up

Outcome

Keurig Green Mountain Coffee

Sustainability Intern

Resume & Cover letter

8/15/14

7/10/14

Emailed Nancy Baldwin, 7/20

Offered internship on 7/31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use a table like this to keep track of pertinent application information

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4. Search Engines & Resources

General and Local Internships

  • Handshake
    Search for jobs and internships, upload your resume and cover letter for feedback, apply for positions, and see information about on-campus recruitment, info sessions, and other events. Can also search the employer directory for networking leads and information.
  • UVM Food Systems Internship Program
    The Food Systems Internship Program places UVM students in high quality food system internships where they can make a meaningful contribution to Vermont businesses and organizations while building essential knowledge and career skills for their future.
  • Indeed.com & SimplyHired.com
    Two similar job search meta-engines that aggregate opportunities from many other websites. They are two of the most visited job sites in the US. Can use a “wildcard search” (e.g. “counsel*” will give results for “counsel”, “counseling”, “counselor”, etc.). You can sign up for email alerts, which will send you daily updates about new positions that match your criteria.
  • Internships USA
    PDFs listing internships by location and industry
    (username: Vermont; password: Catamounts)
  • Internships.com
    General internship search by location. Be sure to check if an internship is “virtual” or in-person
  • InternMatch, The Vault, WetFeet, & YouTern
    Four comparable sites that post rankings ratings, reviews, articles, and internship listings.
  • Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) Intern Program
    VBSR is an internship “matchmaking” service–they match interns with VT companies. All internships are paid.
Non Profit/Government & Policy
  • Idealist.org
    Large non-profit search engine run by Action Without Borders.
  • United Way of Chittenden County
    The most comprehensive volunteer database in Chittenden County. Great for mining contact information and non-profit internship ideas.
  • Government Internships
    The “student” section provides info on several government internships
  • USAJobs.gov
     Job and internship database for government positions
  • The White House Internship
    Competitive program designed to mentor and cultivate young leaders, provide a hands-on experience, and strengthen the understanding of the Executive Office.
Environmental
Science Health & Technology
International
  • Transitions Abroad
    Travel resource for work, living, volunteering and study abroad
  • Cultural Vistas (AIPT-CDS) International
    Massive list of summer research opportunities in all areas of science
  • Idealist
    Global search engine for volunteer opportunities, internships, and nonprofit jobs
  • GoinGlobal [available in Handshake]
    Log in to Handshake, select Resources in the left-hand menu, and search for the GoinGlobal resource to access the site. Has country-specific guides on internships, culture, work visas, housing, professional expectations, and many other resources
Identity-Based Programs and Resources
Networking Resources*

*Note: You need a LinkedIn account to use LinkedIn resources. To get started, come to Drop In Hours to learn more.

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5. Earning academic credit for an internship

An internship is a great way to gain professional experience, learn about a particular industry, make contacts, and test out the career field. An internship makes sense for these reasons, whether or not you are planning to earn credit.

In order to earn credit, you must enroll in an internship course at the same time that you complete your internship. There are several course options, but all courses require that internship credit is agreed upon and enrolled in prior to the internship. That is, no credit can be awarded retroactively for work already completed. One has to be enrolled in a course connected with the internship and paying the associated tuition for the credits earned. The course will also require academic work to be done in conjunction with your internship, such as reflections, readings, essays, and/or other assignments.

It is crucial to consult with your academic advisor about internship credit to understand how credit would fit in with your graduation plan. The number of credits earned depends on how much academic work you complete and how much time you spend working at your internship (1 academic credit typically requires 45 hours spent at your internship). Please note that credit earned is most often elective credit, and does not typically count toward major requirements.

Note that getting paid and earning credit have no connection. Some students earn both credit and payment, some students earn neither, and some students earn only credit or payment.

To view internship courses, visit the Schedule of Courses for a particular semester and view sections with the designation "INTN" (for internship).

Check out college-specific internship courses at these links:

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6. Interning without academic credit

Some students may wish to do internships, not for credit, but simply to gain career-related experience. These internships may offer college learning level projects and a chance to test the waters of a career and develop professional skills. As with credit-bearing internships, they may be paid or volunteer and can be completed locally, nationally or internationally.

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7. Internship pitfalls and areas for concern

There are a tremendous number of internships available, and while some of them are fantastic learning opportunities, others may not be. You should be aware of warning signs, or “red flags” as you are considering an internship. These signs indicate a poor-quality experience:

  • Repetitive, menial tasks that don’t relate to your career interests and goals. You may occasionally make coffee or make copies (everyone does some mundane work from time to time), but this should not make up the bulk of your internship work.
  • Commission-based work (that is, being paid based on sales). You may have a job that offers a salary based on commission, but this payment structure is not well-suited for an internship. You should have the support and space to learn, and not be solely focused on making sales to earn your salary.
  • Paying for an internship. You should never have to pay an application fee or pay to have an internship experience. The one exception is if you are engaging in an international internship experience, where you may have to pay for your travel or housing.
  • Some “virtual” internships. Online internships are becoming more common, but can be of variable quality. Do your due diligence about these opportunities: they should offer adequate resources, supervision, and have an established mode of communication (e.g. Skype meetings on a weekly basis)

If you have a question about an internship posting, or find yourself in an internship of poor quality, please come to drop ins or make an appointment to speak to a career counselor for support and to discuss your options.

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8. Covering the Financial Costs of Your Internship

We recognize that students have financial demands of tuition, housing, travel, and other personal expenses, and that unpaid/under-paid internships (while offering great experience) can also create a financial burden.

If your employer does not offer to pay you minimum wage, you might ask about other forms of compensation. Some internships offer stipends, which is a fixed amount of money delivered in a lump sum, used to cover expenses (e.g. a $1000 stipend for the semester). Other allotments may include housing, food, or vouchers for gym memberships, bus passes, etc.

It can’t hurt to ask!

UVM has several funding sources that provide scholarship money for students who need financial assistance in order to accept an unpaid of "under-paid" internship (when an intern's compensation does not cover their costs of living). UVM's monetary awards are competitive, and have varying application requirements.

Click here for more information about summer internship scholarships.

You can apply to multiple awards using the same application process. The deadline falls during mid-March, and you do not need to have an internship offer to apply for funding.

These additional awards are also available. They each have their own deadlines and application processes:

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9. Laws about Unpaid Internships

You should be aware of policy regarding unpaid internships so that you can advocate for yourself. Standards for unpaid internships are dictated by the US department of Labor, and are outlined in the Department of Labor's Fact Sheet #71 Interns must be paid minimum wage unless the intern is determined to be the “primary beneficiary” of the intern-employer relationship. Updated in January 2018, the Department of Labor currently uses a seven-factor test to determine who is the primary beneficiary: Interns and students, however, may not be "employees" under the Fair Labor Standards Act—in which case the Fair Labor Standards Act does not require compensation. Courts have used the “primary beneficiary test” to determine whether an intern or student is, in fact, an employee under the FLSA. The following seven factors are used to determine who in the intern-employer relationship is the "primary beneficiary" or the relationship:

  1. The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee—and vice versa.
  2. The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.
  3. The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
  4. The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
  5. The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.
  6. The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
  7. The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.

  8. —From the Department of Labor's Fact Sheet #71

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10. Healthy and safe internship environments: What to do if you experience harassment in an internship

The UVM Career Center strives to create an excellent internship experience for all participating students.

A successful internship requires, in large part, a positive working and learning environment.  Accordingly, UVM will not tolerate discrimination or harassment from employers providing internship opportunities.  If any student believes that s/he has been harassed or discriminated against in an internship, they are strongly encouraged to report their concerns immediately to UVM's Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity as well as to Pamela K. Gardner, Director of the Career Center. It is critical that students let us know when there is a problem so that we can continue to support students having a successful experience.

If, in the determination of the University, there are reasonable grounds to believe that an employer or individual has discriminated against a UVM student, that employer or individual may be barred from further participation in UVM–supported internship programs.

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Last modified July 30 2018 02:54 PM