Internship FAQs

Are internships paid?

Yes and no. Some internships will offer compensation and some will not. Some organizations also offer "perks" such as paid training, attendance at conferences, or parking reimbursement.

Is an internship required?

An internship may be required for some majors and not others, so you'll want to check with your department or major advisor. Either way, internships are strongly recommended for all CLA students. They're an important way to enhance your classroom studies (just like a lab, studio work, student teaching, etc.). They also let you explore potential careers and build your professional skills. Potential employers consider all this important.

I have to work. How can I fit an internship into my busy schedule?

Try to get a paid internship, or apply for the CLA Undergraduate Internship Scholarships for a small stipend. You might also be able to create an internship at your current workplace if it relates to your career plans. Another option is to do an unpaid internship during the summer for 10-15 hours per week, and pair it with a part-time summer job.

Does volunteer work or a service-learning class count as an internship?

Technically no, though any experience is great experience and can be used on your resume. Volunteer positions sometimes involve less substantive work or less time commitment. If you volunteer somewhere, be sure you will be learning about the organization, the clients the organization serves, and the ways in which the full-time staff work.

If I want to earn credit for an internship, what are my options?

To earn credit for your internship, you need to have an academic component to your experience. You have several options from which to choose:

Enroll in the Internship Reflection Course (ID 3208)

Earn credit as you consider how your internship fits in with your future career plans.

Departmental internship or field-work courses

Check with your academic advisor to see if there are courses that match your needs.

Directed Study with a CLA faculty member

You'll work independently with an instructor for credit, or add credits to a class being taken the same semester as the internship. Students are responsible for finding their own directed study faculty advisor. For information and application forms, stop by the CLA Career Services office.

Do an internship through a HECUA program

These are 16-credit, semester-long programs that include classroom studies, field work, and an internship. Each focuses on a key social issue. There are 4 HECUA programs in the Twin Cities: City Arts, Environmental Sustainability, Metro Urban Studies Term, and Writing for Social Change.

Could my internship become a job after I graduate?

Many employers use internships to assess the abilities of potential job candidates. A significant number of employers hire their interns, and most employers prefer job candidates who've had internship experience.

What if I run into challenges in my internship?

The internship doesn't meet your expectations

  • List out and assess your expectations. Are they realistic? If so, think about ways to meet them and consider talking to your internship supervisor about them. If you decide they're not realistic, try to figure out why.
  • If you started the internship with a specific position description, reference that description to see if it accurately represents the work¬† you're doing.
  • If you don't already have one, consider working with your supervisor to create a learning contract. This is a good way to chart out internship expectations for both you and the organization. If you already have a learning contract, review it and modify if possible.

You and your internship supervisor have conflicting goals or priorities.

Some degree of difference is natural. If your differences are extreme, talk to your supervisor openly and positively to see if you can find a middle ground. Remember that your supervisor should want you to have a positive, useful experience. Try to meet your supervisor's expectations while also meeting your own.


Ask for new projects. If you notice a need or an area that could use some work, offer to work on it. If you show initiative and help solve some problems, you'll stand out and gain even better experience for your future.

Poor communication

Many workplace problems are a result of poor communication. Don't hesitate to talk to your supervisor about your concerns, but be sure to do so in a diplomatic, positive, and professional way. Most supervisors do not take on an intern unless they're committed to providing  positive experience.