What is an Internship?

What is an Internship?

As defined by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), an internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.


The difference between hiring a student to do a part-time job and making it an internship is the element of education and training.

To ensure that an experience is educational, and thus eligible to be considered a legitimate internship, all the following criteria must be met:

  • The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
  • The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
  • The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
  • There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework.
  • There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
  • There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
  • There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.

Making the decision to gain the right kind of work experience while attending college can be overwhelming.  The Career Center can assist in providing you with information on internships, part-time employment opportunities, and necessary information to stay competitive in the global marketplace.

Internship basics

  • Usually, one-semester term experience, sometimes more as determined by the employer.
  • Often in the summer, though not always, as per employer.
  • Full-time or part-time; as determined by the employer.
  • May be paid or unpaid, and in accordance with U.S. Department of Labor Fact Sheet #71 Internship Programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Academic credit can be applied through an internship program or course provided through the college. You must check with your college to see if course is available.
  • Academic-level determined by employer: Whether open to freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students.
  • Sometimes for academic credit: Academic credit can only be granted by an academic department, and involves paying tuition. You should absolutely make yourself aware of opportunities and requirements in your academic department.
  • These factors vary by career field, by the employer, and by practices in academic departments.

How can I apply for an internship? 

Internship opportunities can be found on Handshake via my.utrgv.edu. To begin searching, you must ensure you have a completed Handshake profile with an uploaded resume in order to apply to available opportunities.