What is an Internship?

An internship is a period of time in which a student is offered work experience by an agency, company, or organization. The student, in the position of "intern," is supervised by staff who meet the academic field of study's supervision and learning goals, and support the student's professional development objectives. Each internship environment is unique, and internship experiences will vary from person to person

Benefits of internships include:

  • Determining if your field/career choice is a good fit
  • Applying content from the classroom to real-world situations
  • Networking (letters of recommendation, job references, etc.)
  • Academic credit
  • Building up your resume

What are Academic Internships?

An academic internship may be tied to a class for credit, or it may be required for your major (with or without credit). Some essential features that set academic internships apart are a deep connection to course content, measurable goals and outcomes, and the chance for students to apply content learned in the classroom (such as exercises, training, theory, etc.). If you have any questions about academic internships, please contact your academic advisor.

Credit vs. Non-Credit Academic Internships

Credit Internships: Students may be registered or enrolled in an internship course or an independent study course. Some of the key differences of credit internships may be:

  • The professor may limit sites to a specific list or community partner, based on learning outcomes.
  • The minimum number of required hours varies, depending on the major/discipline, as well as the number of units the student is receiving for the experience.
  • Grading depends on the student's major/department. Courses can be for letter grades or credit/no credit.

*Credit internships are not offered by all departments, and departments have the liberty to allow students to receive credit for internships based on departmental goals and outcomes.

Non-Credit Internships: Students participating in non-credit internships do not receive academic credit for their participation, as the experience is solely for professional development and growth. Some of the key differences of non-credit internships may be:

  • No course enrollment
  • Gaining work experience
  • Adding value to our resume

What is not an Academic Internship?

  • Assisting at a family member's business
  • Recruiting clients
  • Running errands (getting coffee, picking up dry cleaning, etc.)
  • Positions which are mostly clerical work

Note: It is always a good idea to consult with your advisor/professor is you think that you are completing tasks that don't align with your internship coursework or learning outcomes.

Getting Started

If you need to complete an internship for your major, make sure to plan ahead! Identify your department's goals and outcomes, find where you plan to apply, and determine why the experience will enhance your academic goals. Note that some sites may have additional requirements to consider, such as orientation, onboarding, hours, and course objectives.

Finding Internships

CSUDH maintains a database of approved Community Partners at CalState S4. To use the system simply log in with your CSUDH ID and password.

Helpful tips:

  • Sites: search for specific organizations
  • Opportunity: target specific internship opportunities (including paid internships)
  • Keywords: use targeted keywords such as your major, specific social issues, industry type, age range being served (children, teens, seniors, etc.), or types of service

If you need assistance finding an academic internship, please contact the SLICE office and set up an appointment. We're here to help! If you need help applying for an internship, make sure you bring a resume, cover letter for the internship you're applying for, and the completed proposal from the Internship Packet.

For Best Practices in Internships, including risk management: Internships Best Practices

University Policy on Academic Internships: Academic Internships

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