Experiential Learning - Internships

What is an internship?

Internship Definition (NACE)
"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." -- NACE Position Statement, US Internships, 2022

Why are they important?

Internships are important because they help shape a candidate's experiences and career path. Participating in internships can provide valuable hands-on work experience, while developing leadership skills and helping candidates build relationships. Oftentimes, these professional relationships may lead to permanent employment within the organization. -- Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership, 2023

What difference can an internship make?

Through meaningful work and established learning goals, an intern may demonstrate progress toward professional competencies. (See the graphic below.) This journey is marked by reflection, discussion and guidance with support from mentors, supervisors, faculty, and peers. Competency development and growth with supporting evidence leads to increased career readiness which, according to NACE, 2021, is a key attribute for successful entry into the workplace, regardless of the intern’s field of study.

Key attributes of an internship:

  • Meaningful work assignments
  • Comprehensive orientation
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Dedicated internship supervisor
  • Team involvement
  • Access and equity in the workplace
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Meaningful evaluation of progress

Are you ready to get started? Contact: careerdiscovery@uvawise.edu.

Internship FAQs

When should I intern?
As a form of experiential learning, an internship is an opportunity to apply your knowledge and can occur any time during your college career. The length of an internship typically spans a semester and ranges from 8-32 hours a week. Internships can be conducted locally, nationally, or internationally.

Where do I find general info?
For an overview, check out "What Can I Do with this Major or Degree?" You'll find this helpful tool on the Career Discovery web page. Each section gives tips on how to build out your career, which includes internships. Or, reach out to us for personal guidance.

Who might help me get started?
You have several resources on campus: your academic advisor, major professor, supervisor, coach, and our office, Career Discovery and Planning. We will gladly help you search and prepare for internships that align with your interests, skills, plans, and circumstances.

Where do I find internships?
Your personal platform for internship postings is Handshake. You can access postings by signing on with your UVA Wise credentials. In addition, our office can make introductions, refer you to an employer, and/or inquire about 'creating' an internship experience.