An internship is a closely supervised, short-term work and career development experience integrated into a student's education. Internships can occur during the summer or during the academic year, can be full-time or part-time, paid or unpaid, and in a variety of career fields and geographical locations.
Now viewed as a proving ground for future employment in many fields, internships have become increasingly important for undergraduates, including students studying traditional liberal arts disciplines. The National Association of Colleges and Employers annual internship survey indicates that employers on average plan to increase internship hiring 7 percent this year, hiring approximately 40 percent of their entry-level hires from within their own internship program.
Not all internships are created equal. Ideally, an internship allows you to explore career fields while gaining valuable professional experience. They provide an opportunity to draw connections between your classroom learning and extracurricular activities at Davidson and the workplace while building a network of professional contacts. We work to ensure that internships posted through Davidson meet our standards for high-quality internships. In doing so, we use the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Criteria for an Experience to Be Defined as an Internship.
Criteria for an Experience to Be Defined as an Internship
To ensure that an experience--whether it is a traditional internship or one conducted remotely or virtually--is educational, and thus eligible to be considered a legitimate internship by the NACE definition, all the following criteria must be met:
- The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
- The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
- The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
- There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student's academic coursework.
- There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
- There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
- There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.
When applying for experiences labeled as internships, you should look to see if the experiences meet these criteria.
Students complete internships when they are at various stages of their undergraduate education. There is no "perfect time" to complete an internship. Some students will do a succession of three internships, after each academic year, whereas others will only do one the summer after their junior year. Some Davidson students will complete part-time internships during the academic year in or around the Davidson area.