It's never too early to start thinking about internships! Internships can help you explore your personal and professional interests, try out a career option, and network with professionals.
What is an internship?
An internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent. Internships can be paid or unpaid, and you may or may not receive academic credit for performing the internship.
Why should I do an internship?
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, internship programs are listed as the number one place employers look when recruiting new hires. In a nutshell, internships provide you with the opportunity to test-drive a career option and to gain valuable experience and skills in the process that will make you more competitive and marketable in today's job search.
In addition to learning hard skills used to complete tasks, internships also help build soft skills needed to interact in a professional setting. You will hone your communication and interpersonal skills and experience and understand organization/company culture.
Use HireUTexas Powered by Handshake to search for professional/career-oriented job and internship opportunities with employers seeking to hire UT students and alumni. Career Engagement refers employers to post their full-time positions on this site.
Volunteering is a valuable way to engage in meaningful work, gain experience in your field of study, explore career paths, and network. The following links are good starting places to find volunteer opportunities:
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has developed a six-part test for unpaid internships:
- The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
- The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under the close supervision of existing staff;
- The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion, its operations may actually be impeded;
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
If all of the factors listed above are met, an employment relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the Act's minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to the intern. This exclusion from the definition of employment is necessarily quite narrow because the FLSA's definition of "employ" is very broad.
The information above is an excerpt from the U.S. Department of Labor's "Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The FLSA"
For additional information, please review the National Association of Colleges and Employers' position statement on unpaid internships.