Blog Post by: Dr. John L. Garland, PhD, Director of Research and Student Success – Indigenous Education, Inc.

Internship Planning 101

Internship experiences can bring a wealth of insight and knowledge around workplace connections in your field of study. Likewise, an internship may help you to narrow certain aspects of your career focus and provide valuable insight. There are many resources available online to help guide you through your internship process. The first place to begin is with your campus Career Services Center. Typically, your campus career center will have specific resources and personnel tasked with assisting students navigate the many internship options that exist through your college or university. Your academic advisor, academic college (e.g., education, engineering, psychology), and community may also have connections to internship opportunities. Regardless, there are a several factors you should consider when exploring your internship options.

  • Will I Receive Academic Credit? – Determine what opportunities may exist for receiving academic credit for your internship experience. Although not all internships opportunities may offer academic credit through your institution, it’s worthwhile to explore this option given the time and commitment many internships take. Your campus career services office should be able to help you explore what academic credit options may be available.
  • What are the Specific Duties of Each Internship Opportunity? – You may want to find out what direct professional experience opportunities exist within the internships you’re considering. Although popular movies often show interns fetching coffee, internships are much more than that and you should work closely with your academic advisor and career center staff to find the internship that best meets your academic and professional needs.
  • What are the Opportunities for Mentorship? – Relationships and networking will play key roles in defining your post-graduation employment opportunities. Be intentional with your plans for developing future employee/employer relationships. Even if you do not plan to work for, or in the same field, as your specific internship site there may be colleagues there who may make introductions with other potential employers.
  • Will I Receive Compensation? – Although not all internships pay salaries, it is important to explore all income opportunities and costs associated with certain internships. Expenses may include temporary housing, meals, transportation, etc. Setting a budget and sticking to it will be key to lowering external distractions and stress during your internship experience.  Internship sites may also provide in-kind or value-added non-compensation opportunities such as specific trainings (software, business management, etc.) that you would otherwise have to pay for out of pocket. So be strategic in thinking through the skills you seek to gain when planning your internship experience as a certain training provided free at your internship site may be worth not receiving a salary in certain fields of study.
  • Are My Communication Skills Ready? – Communication is key when developing internship opportunities. From your initial introduction and resume through to your last day and post-internship communication. Each step should be thoughtfully planned and reviewed.
  • Finally, don’t forget your family and support network at home! They too can be a wonderful resource as you embark on your internship experience. Although some family members may not fully understand the internship experience, your excitement and focus will be evident. Share your successes, reflections, and new insights with them as; your future is as exciting to them as it is to you!

Internship Opportunities! Here are a few internships that are available to you. Make sure to utilize all of your resources to find available opportunities.

American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES):

National Congress of American Indians (NCAI):