An internship will give you an in-depth look at a career and a specific employer.  It will also help you to determine if this is (or is NOT) the field for you.  You gain valuable work experience and information necessary in the career decision-making process.  According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers cite internships as their number one way of recruiting new college graduates. 

What is the difference between an internship and a summer job?

Many times, an internship gives you a higher level of professional-type experience.  It will allow you to contribute as a full-time employee, offering your experiences, insights, and knowledge.  However, it’s important to remember that even if an employer doesn’t call you an ‘intern’, you are still gaining valuable out-of-the-classroom experience.  It’s always a good idea to have some goals prepared when you start so that you leave with resume building experience.


When should I do an Internship?

Internships are invaluable.  When you choose to do one is a personal choice.  Some students choose to do them the summer after Freshman year and others choose to wait.  The decision is yours, however, it’s best to do at least two to give you more information on potential career paths.  Employers have come to expect that students will have internship experience so it is beneficial to do a number of internships to be competitive in the job market.


What are the benefits of an Internship?

The benefits are numerous.  Internships will give you real world experience, help to build a work ethic, and can give you an inside look at a potential employer. Internships can turn into repeat internship offers and even full-time job offers.

How does an internship benefit the employer?

The internship gives the organization a chance to ‘evaluate’ you and your skills.  You will also bring fresh ideas to the organization and will have an opportunity to participate in projects, presentations, meetings, and the everyday functions of the particular employer or industry.

What resources should I use to find a summer internship?

  • Handshake – Internships postings made available to Lafayette students through the Career Center. Meet with your Gateway Counselor for search instructions.
  • Employer listing in Handshake – provides you with company contact information
  • Internet – Career Search Tools on Career Center web page or “googling” on your own.
  • Career Fair – contacts made at the Career Fairs in September and March. Didn’t attend?  Visit the Career Center for a list of employers that attended.
  • AlumNet – a networking list of Lafayette Alumni. However, you are NOT permitted to ask an alumni for an internship, you can discuss their field and how to get started in the industry.
  • Internship Bible, Peterson’s Guide to Internships, Job Banks, Directories – national directories with internship information by state, industry, class year, etc. available in the career library
  • Faculty– some alumni keep in touch with faculty members and give them internship information.
  • Friends and Family Connections – NETWORK! inquire about openings at their places of employment
  • Local Resources such as the Chamber of Commerce or the yellow pages – great ways to identify employers near your home

Will my Internship be paid?

This depends on the internship site. Some employers will pay summer interns, others require that you receive college credit, some will offer a stipend, and others will not pay at all.

If you are offered an unpaid internship, discuss work schedule options so that you can find a paying job to supplement costs while you are doing your internship.  The experience you will get is invaluable in the job search. 

The Career Center offers several stipends for students doing unpaid internships.  Watch your emails for details during the spring semester.


Can I earn Lafayette credit for an internship?

Lafayette College recognizes the value of internships as part of the learning experience and thus, offers academic credit for internships.  Students must have their internship approved by the sponsoring academic department prior to the start of the internship.  Students must be juniors or seniors to engage in a credit based internship.  They usually intern 10-20 hours a week depending upon the specific department requirements as well as employer needs.  Requirements for earning credit vary by department.  Students are advised to work out the details for earning credit well before the start of the internship.

What do I need to apply for a summer internship?

  • Resume and cover letters – work with your Gateway counselor to develop these important documents, they are the employer’s first impression of you and your ticket to an interview.
  • Mock interview – schedule a practice session with the Career Center. Use InterviewStream to do a mock interview from your own computer (contact Career Center for more details).
  • Employer information – know all about the organizations you are applying to and interviewing with by conducting research in the career library or the internet
  • List of objectives – have a sense of what you’d like to accomplish during the internship
  • An open mind – possess a willingness to experience all that you can while you are there
  • Enthusiasm and eagerness to learn – turn an internship into a permanent job offer

Example Timeline for searching and applying to Internships

September – October

  • Meet with your Gateway Counselor to define your goals and determine the focus for your internship search.
  • Develop your resume and cover letters with your Gateway Counselor.
  • Research and network for internship prospects by using books, periodicals, employer literature, internet sites (all found in the career library).
  • Talk to friends, family, faculty, alumni, and use your “connections.”

November – January           

  • Determine at least 25 internship options and perform further research on those employers.
  • Develop a time frame for application and follow-up.  The internship search takes more time than you think and many employers have deadlines as early as December 1st.
  • Line up your references, make sure you have their correct contact information.  If letters of reference are needed, give the individual plenty of notice.
  • Make sure the employer knows how to contact you over the January Interim break.
February –March
  • Follow-up each resume you send with a phone call if you don’t hear from the employer within a reasonable amount of time.  Tell the employer that you are checking on the status of your resume and are still very interested in the internship.
  • Work with your Gateway Counselor to improve your interview skills, participate in a mock interview.
  •  Within 24 – 48 hours after an interview, send a sincere, tailored thank-you note to the employer.
  • Consult your Gateway Counselor if you need assistance. Be patient.  If the employer doesn’t call when promised, it is acceptable for you to call and reiterate your interest in the internship.
  • Internship postings continue to arrive, make sure you continue to check the Job Vault.

April – May

  • Receive and evaluate internship offers, finalize details with employer.
  • Make housing arrangements (if needed).
  • Make sure you have a wardrobe suitable for the internship environment.
  • Do some more research about the organization so you are well prepared.

June – August

  • Have a great internship!
  • Keep a journal of the experience and collect business cards from everyone you meet along the way.