Internship Information

The word internship is often tossed around as an option for students to gain experience. A recent study reported graduates from the past five years wished they had completed more internships. But what exactly is an internship, and how does it differ from other work experience? Here are some of the details on internships – what an internship actually is, paid vs. unpaid, where to start if you’re looking for an internship, and some links to internships based on demographic location.             

Click on the below demographic regions to explore internship options:

Gunnison/Crested Butte Internships | Statewide (Colorado) Internships | Nationwide Internships | International Internships

Also, consider utilizing Western's Careers for Mountaineers database in order to search for additional internships, jobs, and careers.

Gunnison/Crested Butte Area Internships

Statewide (Colorado) Internships

Nationwide Internships

International Internships

 

What is an internship?

An internship is a formal training experience designed to introduce interns to the industry and/or company. Not only is an internship an excellent way to expand your network and learn new skills, completing an internship helps you determine whether a profession, industry, or company is a good fit for you, with only a short-term commitment. Internships can last from three weeks to a year (most Western students opt for a semester-long internship). Internships not only provide practical work experience, but they also introduce interns to professional and/or corporate environments, helping them develop professional work habits and crucial, transferable skills, such as communication, organization and time management. What makes an internship different from other work experience tends to be the time dedicated to professional development and skill-building, whether this takes the form of formal training, mentoring programs, industry events, conferences, professional presentations or job shadowing. There are many internships available, both paid and unpaid. Make sure you know what you are looking for in an internship and what’s best for you and your professional growth.  Internships can be for academic credit but do not have to be.

Paid vs. Unpaid

Internships have a reputation for being unpaid, but there are many paid opportunities. Many students overlook internships because they can’t afford to work for free, which is understandable. However, internships provide a valuable and unique experience for students which can set them apart from other job applicants. It’s also important to note that even if an internship isn’t paid, it might have other benefits that can easily be overlooked:

  • The opportunity to break into a competitive field (such as advertising, entertainment or politics).
  • Expanding your network, making connections and meeting potential mentors.
  • Academic credit (which must be approved through your academic advisor before starting the internship).
  • Small stipends or travel allowances to attend industry events or conferences, housing assistance, or scholarships.
  • A potential, full-time position following graduation.

Even if you still feel as if you can’t afford an unpaid internship, consider the long term. Gaining experience now will help you find a good job later, or it could lead to a full-time job within that organization, if you were an asset as an intern. Many people complete internships during the summer, however, if you need summer income, you might accept a part-time, unpaid internship during the academic year instead. Many companies want extra help during the year so just because you want an internship that doesn't mean it has to be 40 hours per week.

Where to Start

  • Think about your goals: What are you looking for in an internship? What do you offer a company? What industry are you targeting? Are there any specific companies you’re interested in? (The answers to these questions will also help you write your cover letter!)
  • Research what kinds of internships already exist and/or which companies you would like to gain experience with. If you don’t know whether a company you are interested in offers internships, contact their human resources department. Even if they don’t currently have interns, they may be interested in having you.  Don't forget to research openings using Western's Careers for Mountaineers database.
  • Visit Career Services for a resume and cover letter critique before you send application documents. Also, don't forget to come in for interview preparation as well!