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Internships

Career Support & Internships

Internships

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (link)defines internships as “a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting” Moreover, an internship is a short-term work experience offered by companies and other organizations for students, to get some entry-level exposure to a particular industry or field. It is as much of a learning experience as it is work. Ideally, interns spend their time working on relevant projects, learning about the field, making industry connections, and developing both hard and soft skills. Internships sometimes even lead to full-time job offers.

Important: Click here for the pre internship planning steps and deadlines sheet to find out how the RCC for academic credit internship process works and what steps you need to take to begin the process. 

If your major requires you to complete an academic for credit internship click here to fill out the Pre-Internship Questionnaire.  

**This questionnaire is only for students whose major requires them to complete an internship. 

Competition has been on the rise for good jobs, which means that college students have to get extra creative when it comes to distinguishing themselves from others. Employers are looking for students that have real-world work experience. One of the best ways to increase your competitive edge and employability is to complete an internship during college. 

By participating in an internship, you’ll develop valuable skills that you wouldn’t necessarily get from just taking classes in school. In an internship setting, you will learn to work well with others in a professional environment, manage difficult work situations, and sharpen your business etiquette, and increase your industry knowledge. These are just some of the many things that you’ll learn, that will come in handy once you enter the workforce! 

A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers indicates that the starting salary for college graduates who completed a paid internship and were employed in a private, for-profit company was $53,521, while those who didn’t complete an internship started with an average of only $38,572. The same study found that 72.2% of college graduates with internship experience got a job offer, in contrast to 36.5% for those who didn’t complete one. These numbers show that pursuing an internship during your college years can add a competitive edge on your side, increasing your opportunity to get a well-paying job after graduation. 

Most internships can be categorized into five general categories: 

  1. Academic Credit versus non-credit internships. For-credit internships and not-for-credit internships are one of the major categorizations of internships. To be worthy of college credit, an internship must be strongly related to an academic discipline. All For-credit internships have to be at pre-approved internship host sites and the host site has to sign a memorandum of understanding with Roxbury Community College. 
  1. Time of Year. The basic type of internships are semester internships; summer internships, fall internships, and spring internships. 
  1. Program of Study/Industry. Internship programs are also classified by industry; this usually corresponds with the interns' majors/programs of study. Certain programs of study at Roxbury Community College require internships. Please check with your academic advisor to confirm whether or not your program of study requires an internship in order to graduate. 
  1. Paid versus unpaid internships. Paid internships and unpaid internships are other methods of classification. The primary beneficiary of an unpaid internship must be the student, and the student’s work cannot replace the work of an employee. 
  1. On location versus virtual internships. Some Internships are in-person and location-based. A virtual internship can be completed remotely. This means you can work from home rather than in the office. 

Ready to complete an internship?  

Important: Preparation for completing a for- academic credit internship must begin the semester BEFORE you want to complete your internship. ** See pre-internship planning steps and deadlines handout. 

Note: 

Internships provide an excellent opportunity for students to gain valuable work experience and make connections with professionals in their field. However, sometimes internship placements do not always work out and internship sites  can become unconducive to supportive learning. Additionally, there may be times when a student faces a hardship such as an illness or an unforeseen circumstance which interferes with their ability to be productive at an internship site. Therefore, student should immediately report any internship problems to their faculty internship advisor and the career services office.  
 
What is the process for completing a non-credit internship? You do not need to obtain permission from RCC to complete a non-credit internship. Additionally, most programs of study at RCC do not require a for-academic credit internship in order to graduate.   All students are free to pursue non-credit internship opportunities on their own. However, if you would like assistance in finding a non-credit internship or have any questions about non-credit internships, please contact career services. 

An Internship is … 

An internship is an experiential academic experience in which a student has intentional learning goals/objectives with measurable outcomes. The college has worked hard to build strategic relationships with companies and organizations in the community so that students can have professional and productive internship experiences. When a student participates in an internship they represent the college and it is therefore important for students to understand what an internship is and what an internship is not. Student learning goals/objectives should include: 

  • Academic Learning: the student may apply and test knowledge learned in the classroom to a professional work environment. 
  • Career Development: the student may explore a specific field of interest, expand his or her professional network and gain and understanding of the qualifications and duties involved in a specific profession or career field. 
  • Skill Development: the student gains an understanding of the transferable skills and knowledge required for success in a professional work environment and integrates those skills in their academic learning. 
  • Personal Development: the student gains decision-making skills, self-confidence, business savvy, ethics, and teamwork required for success in a professional work environment. 

An internship is designed as an exchange. The student agrees to complete work that will benefit the host organization and in return is offered the opportunity to learn new skills, expand his or her knowledge of a particular field and explore career options. Employers offer internships for many reasons. They see student interns as fruitful and economical resources with which they can accomplish projects not otherwise possible. They believe interns bring enthusiasm and new ideas into work settings and make strong employees. Just as importantly, employers feel an increasing commitment to education and want to help train students to assume responsible roles in society. 

An Internship Is Not... 

During your internship we recommend that you maintain realistic expectations in regard to your internship experience. The following is a list of things an internship is not: 

  • A Guarantee Job Offer: Although some interns are offered part-time or full-time employment as a result of contacts they make during their internships, there is no guarantee that an internship will result in a job. The best way for students to gain career and job advantages during an internship is by building information and referral networks. 
  • An Easy Grade: A supervisor expects an intern to be a contributing member to the organization, just like an employee. Most students report working just as hard, if not harder, with an internship position as they do for other academic courses. 
  • Time to Act Like a Resident Expert: Most students do not have the time, expertise, or knowledge of the organization to tackle self-initiated projects. This is an opportunity to test prior learning in a humble and tactful way. Application can be done only if the intern remembers his or her role and purpose. 
  • A Go-fer Position: A fine balance must be cultivated between ensuring the student has a meaningful learning experience and addressing the completion of more routine work responsibilities involved in all positions and projects. A good rule of thumb would be that 60% of the internship responsibilities are professional and 40% of the internship responsibilities are para-professional or part of daily operational routine. 

Google is your Friend search for internship opportunities on-line.  

Look for public, private, or nonprofit organizations focusing on your particular program of study or your social mission. 

Check out internship postings on Handshake 

 \Use your personal and professional networks. Tell a professor, a family member, or a friend about what kind of opportunity you’re looking for. Partner with the coordinator of career planning and placement at RCC and ask for assistance! 

Look ahead: When would be the best time to complete your internship? Consider your course load, family/personal issues, and your work schedule if you are employed.  You must complete 150 hours of work at your internship site. This normally averages out to 15-20 hours a week during the semester.  

Know what you are signing up for: Each organization should have an internship job description. Make sure that you read it carefully. It is important to get a realistic idea of what the position entails. Ask questions such as: What is a typical day like in this role? Who will my supervisor be? Will I gain industry knowledge and transferable skills that will prepare me for the next step in my career? 

Remember who you represent: As a Roxbury Community College student intern, you not only represent yourself, but you also represent RCC. Your actions and attitude at an internship site should always reflect professionalism. 

RCC encourages students to identify internships that align with your academic and professional goals and that fairly compensate you for your work. However, not all internships are paid and if you obtain an internship that is not paid we recommend that you become familiar with the U.S. guidelines regarding unpaid internships for for-profit entities. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, interns are entitled to receive at least minimum wage unless the position may be categorized as a Trainee/Learner position. The U.S. Department of Labor has established a six-part test for “for-profit” organizations to determine whether a position qualifies as a Trainee/Learner position and may be unpaid. 

  • The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment. 
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern; 
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff; 
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded; 
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and 
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship. 
  • Make sure that you have some goals. Yes, your goal is to successfully complete your internship, impress your supervisors, and land a job offer. But you also need your own personal development goals about what you will learn and accomplish during the internship.  
  • Meet as many people as possible. Take advantage of as many opportunities to network as you can. That means joining the rest of the team at after-work functions, attending industry events as often as possible, and meeting one-on-one with both management and peers at your company--even those who work outside your chosen area. Make sure to connect on LinkedIn with everybody you meet so you can stay in touch and make contact in the future. 
  • Take notes. This is one way to impress your supervisor because you will be able to look back and go over what has previously been talked about. 
  • Say thank you a lot. Go out of your way to thank the people you work with for the opportunity, as well as thanking clients, co-workers, and anyone else you worked with along the way. Handwritten thank-you notes are a wonderful way to let people know that you really appreciate what they have done to help you. 
  • Reach out to RCC. Sometimes interns can run into tricky situations. If someone or something is making you feel uncomfortable or you are not sure how to handle a particular situation, contact an RCC faculty member or the coordinator of career planning and placement immediately. 
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