Pre-Internship Projects

Four CLA students sit at a table with their laptops open.
CLA students work on their one-week marketing project for Minneapolis nonprofit Led by TRUTH in May 2023.
CLA students pose onsite at Behavior Dimensions, a pre-internship project site
CLA students pose onsite at Behavior Dimensions, a pre-internship project site in May 2023.
CLA students pose onsite at The Food Group
CLA students pose onsite at The Food Group, an employer pre-internship project host in May 2023

CLA Career Services prepares liberal arts students for participation in internships, research, or learning abroad experiences — what we refer to as high-impact practices. Research shows that students' career outcomes improve with engagement in one of these high-impact experiences.

In order for students to be competitive for future internships, it's important that they gain career experience early in their college experience. We offer pre-internship projects as a stepping stone to future internships and career opportunities.

Pre-Internship Projects

Pre-internship projects are professional assignments that are similar to those given to new hires or interns. Projects are short-term (1 week) and are completed by a small team of students. Organizations will need to have a project concept and designate an industry expert mentor for the groups of students who are working on the projects.

As a participating organization in a pre-internship project, you will be supporting students’ career development, building your brand in CLA, getting a preview of students’ work for your internship opportunities, and you’ll get fresh ideas to enhance a program or initiative; or strengthen your capacity to serve your community.

CLA staff will offer extensive support throughout the project to ensure a mutually beneficial experience for students and employer partners. 

FAQs About Pre-Internship Projects

  • Build your organization’s brand in the largest college at the University of Minnesota (CLA)
  • Expand your organization’s candidate pool for internships and recruiting needs. Project participants may be your next best employee! 
  • Strengthen your capacity to serve your community, develop new initiatives or enhance existing programs with fresh ideas.
  • Identify a project concept or need at your organization. This list of project concept ideas can help you get started. 
  • Provide clear outcomes for students completing the project. 
  • Host students on-site two of the five days for a project launch meeting and a final Project Showcase where students will present their project outcomes. 
  • Participate in 2-3 virtual check-in meetings throughout the week.

CLA will facilitate projects at two times during the 2023-24 academic year to best align with students' academic commitments: 

  • Winter break: January 8-12, 2024
  • May term: May 13-17, 2024

You can meet with a CLA staff member to work through the details of your project, as well as your project outcomes. We will help make sure that the project has definition and clear roles for our student teams as they collaborate.

Not at this time. We have found that a hybrid model is ideal for team cohesion and meeting project outcomes in the short term format.

Students receive $600 for their participation in a pre-internship project. By providing compensation, you are creating an accessible entrance point for students who often hold historically underserved identities. Student participants of this program often experience barriers to gaining access to experiences and networks that are necessary for success after graduation.

We ask that organizations who would like to support a team of students provide funding to compensate their student teams. In the circumstances that your organization is unable to provide funding to compensate your student teams, a CLA staff member will work with you to discuss options. 

Yes! While pre-internship projects center student learning and career growth, our hope is that students will gain real experience creating something tangible. Students will be proud to have an organization use their work! 


For more information about pre-internship projects, contact Tonny Yang, Coordinator of Employer & Alumni Engagement:


Pre-Internship Project Stories | 2022-24

Read about recent pre-internship projects at a variety of employer sites.



Project Stories | Spring Pilot 2022


Learning New Skills, Addressing Real-world Challenges

Host Site: ConnextMSP an initiative of GREATER MSP Partnership

Project: Ambassador Program Design

An inclusive talent network, ConnextMSP is working to ensure that early-career professionals of color in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region are recruited, hired and supported by local employers as they launch their careers. This is a critical initiative of GREATER MSP a regional economic development partnership to ensure the partnership is advancing inclusive economic growth and building a 21st century workforce in the region.

ConnextMSP was one of six host sites that participated in May 2022 in the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts’ (CLA) industry-based projects pilot as part of its Get Ready Program.

Continue reading the ConnextMSP article


Improved Recruiting, Advancing Diversity and Equity Commitment

Host Site: Tubman

Project: Research & Social Media Outreach

Tubman is a multiservice organization providing safe shelter, transitional and rapid rehousing, legal services, mental and chemical health services, youth outreach, in-school violence prevention education, mobile case management, support groups, job readiness, financial education and more to about 20,000 people in the Twin Cities, each year. These programs support individuals and families seeking safety, hope, and healing as they move from fear to freedom.

Tubman was one of six host sites that participated in May 2022 in the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts’ (CLA) industry-based projects pilot as part of its Get Ready Program.

Continue reading Tubman article


Gaining Knowledge and Insights a Two-way street for Students and Corporation

Host Site: Polaris

Project: New Customer Growth

Headquartered in Minnesota, Polaris Inc. proudly serves customers in more than 100 countries. Employees at the $8.2 billion company drive change and innovation, and are empowered to take on challenging assignments and roles with an elevated level of responsibility.

Product Manager Matt Mukomela is a CLA Alum (BA ’11) with an Economics degree and a Management minor from the Carlson School of Management. Mukomela worked with four CLA students as they participated in a weeklong project at Polaris that helped them gain insight into working in corporate America.

Continue reading Polaris article


Excited, Humbled and Inspired by Collaboration with Today’s Students

Host Site: S Pratt Consulting LLC

Project: Website redesign

CLA alumna Stacy Pratt (BA ’99), never planned to own her own business. But following a layoff she used her extensive experience in facilitation and training with Fortune 100 companies, non profit organizations and local governments to launch a business and chart a new career path.

A culture and talent consulting service, S Pratt Consulting LLC provides customized business solutions that promote inclusive cultures, support diverse talent, and enrich workforce relations. S. Pratt’s vision is to create inclusive work environments that reinforce employee engagement and

retention while achieving organizational goals.

Continue reading S. Pratt Consulting, LLC. article