Internships - Experience the Possibilities!
"Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced." - John Keats
Internships offer opportunities to make your education "real" by providing practical work experience in your major field of study or career interest area.
Internships allow you to:
- Explore possibilities of future careers
- Gain valuable skills and career-related experience
- Apply classroom knowledge to real-world situations
- Establish professional contacts and begin networking
- Possibly earn money, academic credit or a future job offer
Frequently Asked Questions:
When should I intern?
Anytime! Students do internships over the summer and also during the academic year. In the fall and spring semester, interns will typically work 12-15 hours a week. Many interns will work full-time in May Term and through the summer. Intern when you are ready; anytime from second semester of your first year to the summer after you graduate.
Where can I intern?
Anywhere! Many local organizations offer convenient access to internships in the Bloomington-Normal area; this is a perfect option during the fall and spring semesters. However during the summer, students can intern in their hometowns, in other states, and even abroad. Last year, over 480 students reported their internships to the Career Center. They have contributed their talents through internships in organizations throughout the United States and abroad and have had some amazing experiences. Click on the maps to see where students interned in recent years!
Not sure where students with your major intern? Check out this new search tool to learn about the internship positions IWU students have held over the past several years: IWU Internship Experiences
IWU is also affiliated with academic-year internship programs in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York City. Learn more about our Affiliated Programs.
When should I start looking for an internship?
Now! It's never too early to start searching for possibilities! The Career Center receives internship listings continuously and most organizations accept applications on a rolling basis. Begin searching at least a semester before you'd like to intern. National deadlines for summer internships are quite early. Getting a head-start will provide you with more options.
Does the Hart Career Center find an internship for me?
No! The Hart Career Center assists you, but students and employers choose each other. No employer is assigned an intern and no student is given an internship. The internship search parallels the job search.
Are interns paid?
Sometimes! Internships can be paid or unpaid; employers determine whether or not the internship is paid. Whether paid or not, the experience you receive is a valuable form of payment for an internship.
Can I receive academic credit for my internship?
Perhaps! Academic departments make this determination. It may be possible to receive academic credit for an internship, but many students participate for experience only. Should you desire academic credit toward your degree, check out our Academic Credit Procedures document. You'll need to work with a faculty supervisor to complete an Internship Learning Contract. The completed Contract is turned in to the Career Center. The Career Center then notifies the Registrar to enroll you in the appropriate Internship course. If you are applying for summer credit, a Summer Enrollment Form is also required by the Registrar's Office.
Where do I begin?
With yourself! Before you start searching for an internship, you need to set some goals for yourself and evaluate what you want and need from an internship. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my career interests? What kind of work do I want to do?
- What kind of organization or industry intrigues me?
- What personal traits, skills, or knowledge would I like to develop?
- When can I fit an internship experience in to my schedule?
- Where am I willing or able to intern?
- What are my income needs and transportation options?
Once you have done some goal setting, you are ready to begin the search process.
Start here! A great place to start is at the IWU Hart Career Center. Hundreds of internship opportunities are available to you through the Career Center's Internship Program. Our program is centralized, which means no matter what your area of study, the Hart Career Center can help you to find internship opportunities. We post all of the positions we hear about on our online database, Titan CareerLink.
Are there other places to look for internships?
You bet! Here are a few other search suggestions:
InternMatch is one of the largest free internship listing sites and focuses on positions with startup companies, non-profits, difficult to find opportunities, and internship resources.
www.internships.com - Internships.com is a large internship database that the Career Center subscribes to for students to utilize in their internship search.
www.iscpa.org - The ISCPA (Illinois Small College Placement Association) website. ISCPA is a consortium of 25 small colleges in Illinois that work together to share job search resources.
www.indeed.com and www.simplyhired.com - both of these are "spider sites" that pick up internship postings from company websites and other job search sites.
www.idealist.org is a similar site for non-profit positions in the U.S. and abroad.
- Visit company websites if you have ideas for where you'd like to work. Look for their employment or college relations page for internship information.
- Try a Google search - you'll be amazed at what you'll find.
- Network - let your family, friends, professors, and neighbors know what you're looking for! Personal references are still one of the best ways to land a position.
- Attend an Internship Fair - Fairs provide an excellent opportunity for you to find out what types of internships are available and to begin making some professional connections.
- Contact an IWU Alum - you can search for alumni by occupation or geographic location through the mentoring option in Titan CareerLink. These alumni have volunteered to provide students with career guidance and assistance.
- Check out Career Insider by Vault - an online career library with tons of information about companies and opportunities. Enter your IWU email for a password.
- Consider one of our Affiliated Programs
- Visit the IWU International Office - If you are interested in an internship abroad, there are tons of options.
- Drop by the Hart Career Center - our career resource library has tons of directories and internship resources for you to explore.
- Schedule an appointment - Want more assistance? Call 556-3071 to schedule an appointment with Laurie Diekhoff, Assistant Director/Internship Coordinator at the Hart Career Center.
How do I prepare to apply?
1. Develop a polished and error-free resume. The Career Center staff would be happy to review your resume. Stop by during drop-in hours or schedule an appointment by calling 309-556-3071.
2 . Write a Cover Letter if needed. Many positions will ask for a letter of interest to introduce your resume.
3. Get ready for an interview. If a company likes your resume, they will probably want to schedule an interview. Plan for interview success:
- Research the organization and prepare specific questions to ask.
- Practice answering typical interview questions. Sign up to participate in the Career Center's Practice Interview program.
- Prepare to dress professionally on interview day.
4. Follow up, follow up, follow up!
- If it's been one-two weeks since you applied or since the deadline passed, it's okay to follow up politely with a note or phone call inquiring about the status of your application.
- Similarly, you should follow up an interview with a thank you note.
- Once you receive an offer and decide to accept a position, it's essential to follow up with the organization to let them know your plans. Additionally, you need to contact employers to formally withdraw from any active searches when you have accepted a position (see more guidelines for handling offers).
After I've found an internship, what's next?
- If you're planning to receive academic credit for the internship, you'll need to visit with your faculty internship supervisor, fill out the Internship Learning Contract, and turn it in to the Hart Career Center. The Career Center will notify the Registrar to enroll you in the Internship course for your department. Paperwork is due before the last day to add a class in a semester.
- If you are doing a non-credit internship, the Career Center would still like to know about your position for our internship records and for employer contacts and evaluations. You can turn in a simple Internship Report.
- Clarify expectations with your employer. Confirm start date, hours, job responsibilities, salary, dress, supervisor, etc. It's a great idea to put your agreement in writing.
- Make the most of your internship experience! Take initiative; observe and learn; be professional; find a mentor; communicate respectfully; be a team player; and have fun.
What if I still have questions or need assistance?
Contact Laurie Diekhoff, Assistant Director/Internship Coordinator at the Hart Career Center. You can schedule an appointment by calling (309) 556-3071, or send questions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org