What Is an Internship? All You Need to Know


Considering the high competition in the job market, getting your dream job with only your college diploma is a feat. Many students seek internships to develop their skills further, get acquainted with the work environment, and build connections to land their dream job. 

If you’re interested in getting an internship but need help figuring out where to begin, this article will guide you through. We’ll explore some of the most common questions, such as what an internship is, why internships are important, how much interns earn, etc.

What Is an Internship?


An internship is a short-term professional program usually reserved for college students or recent graduates. They are an excellent opportunity for students to experience the work dynamics and determine if a career path is right for them. They learn the company’s day-to-day operations and make long-lasting connections with coworkers. 

Internships can be paid or not-paid, and you can intern for class credit. Usually, students complete internships during the semester or over the summer

What is the difference between an internship and an externship?

Another term often used together with internships is externships. Externships are short-term work experiences offered to students as part of a course study to teach them about a specific job’s work environment and duties. While both externships and internships are short apprenticeship programs, they still have some key differences. Some of them are:

  • Duration: externships usually last a few days or weeks, whereas internships typically last a whole semester.
  • Payment: externships aren’t paid, while internships can be paid or unpaid.
  • College credit: an externship isn’t often used for credit, whereas an internship can be counted for credit.
  • Program design: during an externship, students will mostly observe job duties or work on minor projects, whereas during an internship, students can have work roles within the company.

Why Are Internships Important?

Getting an internship during your formative college years is important as it provides you with skills and practical knowledge of the field as well as the opportunity to work with experienced professionals. Some of the most valuable benefits of getting an internship are:

  • Helping you determine your interests or find new interests,
  • Building connections with industry professionals,
  • Learning on-the-job,
  • Introducing you to office dynamics,
  • Learning how to maintain a healthy work-life balance,
  • Encouraging character growth.

What Do Interns Do?


While at the beginning of your internship you’ll learn how the company works and understand how you can assist and contribute to the team, over time, you will also handle bigger responsibilities and be part of projects. Some of the day-to-day duties of a beginner can be:

  • Performing clerical duties,
  • Event handling,
  • Research,
  • Managing social media and emails.

However, different industries have different duties, so you should research the specific roles of that industry. 

Generally, during an internship, you’re expected to pick up knowledge and develop your soft skills as much as possible. 

How to Get an Internship

While not all internships are the same, we suggest you follow the five steps mentioned below to increase your chances of landing the right internship for you

Start researching early

Finding good internships can be challenging, especially if you don’t utilize all tools available. You can find internships through:

  • Professors that work actively in the field,
  • The college career center,
  • Attending meetings of local professional organizations,
  • Contacting HR professionals of the companies that interest you through LinkedIn or email,
  • Job or career fairs,
  • Online resources like LinkedIn or Indeed, or company sites,
  • Leveraging your network (mentors, former employers, friends, and family) with similar career interests.

Prepare a good resume and cover letter

When applying for an internship, you must submit a strong resume and cover letter that best reflects your skills, education, achievement, and you as a person. These will help you stand out as a candidate and open more opportunities for you.

A strong resume (CV) contains the following:

  • A unique header with your contact information,
  • your objective statement,
  • education,
  • experience,
  • achievements, and
  • skills.

As many employers request a cover letter along with your resume, it can be your chance to make a good first impression and show your goals. 

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Your cover letter should include the following:

  • The specific role you’re applying for,
  • relevant keywords,
  • relevant coursework/education and skills, and
  • statements on why you think you’re a good candidate and what you think you could gain from it.

For more details about writing a solid resume and a cover letter and samples of how they could look like, read our guides on how to write an internship resume and how to write a cover letter for an internship

Apply early

Another important thing to consider is to make sure you complete all application deadlines and make sure to apply as early as possible. Many employers appreciate candidates who can manage their time well and are enthusiastic about working in their company by applying early. 

Prepare for the interview


As the final step of the admission process, getting an interview means that you’ve made a good impression on the hiring committee, and this is your chance to prove to them that you’re the right candidate for the job.

So, to do that, you should prepare for your interview by presenting the contents of your resume concisely and confidently. You should also research the company’s key characteristics and emphasize how your skills will add value to it.


While you should always be optimistic about the outcome of your application, you should keep in mind that there will be instances where you won’t be admitted to the internships you apply for. The most important thing is that you see that as an opportunity to improve and to do better in future applications. So, you must persevere, and for sure, companies will see the academic and professional value you bring to their team. 

How Much Do Interns Earn?

Many factors weigh in on the official salary of interns, such as skill level, location, years of experience, and, most importantly, type of establishment. According to Glassdoor, some of the industries with the highest paid internship salaries are gaming, investment banking, tech, and consulting.

According to ZipRecruiter, on average, interns earn $15 per hour, with salaries ranging from as high as $29.57 to as low as $5.77. On the other hand, Indeed reports an average base salary of $16.60 per hour.

Lastly, according to data gathered by Glassdoor, the average base pay for interns is $38,223 per year.


Getting yourself out of your comfort zone and having to face the possibility of rejection can be overwhelming for all of us. However, we will still encourage you to take any internship opportunity seriously and try to make the most out of it. By seeking out internships, you’ll put yourself in a position for long-term success, and that always brings growth.

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