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Internship FAQs

What is an internship?   An internship is a supervised career related work experience that allows you to apply classroom learning to real-world situations. Internships offer you an opportunity to set learning goals, obtain valuable professional-level experience, and reflect on what you have learned from the experience.  Internships may be paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time, local, national, or international. 

How can I benefit?  You will obtain relevant professional experience in your field, gain insights into your strengths and weaknesses, values, likes and dislikes. You will develop communication skills, professional and technical skills, leadership, teamwork, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. You will gain more confidence in your abilities. Internships are a great way to gain valuable contacts for potential career opportunities.  Some organizations will only consider candidates who have interned with them.

How can I participate?  You must be enrolled as a full-time or part-time student at the University of Kentucky. The first step in the internship process is to attend an Internships 101 information session at the Stuckert Career Center (SCC), or view the online slide presentation.  Students are also welcome to meet with the SCC internship coordinator or a career advisor. 

Who can participate?  Whether you're a freshman or graduate student, all full-time or part-time students are eligible to participate. Internship candidate requirements, such as class year, majors, GPAs, etc., are determined by the organization offering the position.   

How can I find an internship? There are many great sources for internship opportunities: Handshake, the Career Center’s online job/internship database; your college’s listserv or newsletter; employer websites and web sources (see the Other Resources page) and networking.  Your personal network -- including family, friends, professors, classmates, and previous employers--can help provide internship leads. The Career Center provides many opportunities for networking with employers, including on-campus Career Fairs, help every fall and spring, as well as employer class presentations and information sessions. Student organizations may also host employer guest speakers. If you're interested in international internships, UK Education Abroad has resources to help jump-start your search. 

What is Academic vs. Non-credit?  An academic internship means that you will be seeking credit through a UK internship course. You will complete a learning contract, obtain a faculty sponsor, receive department approval, enroll in a UK internship course and receive a grade.  It may be paid or unpaid and it will appear on your transcript.  This option is recommended for most students as it provides a richer and more meaningful learning experience.    

A non-credit internship implies that you will work for the benefit of experience gained, but not for any type of academic recognition. This option may be preferable if you do not need additional credit hours. For-profit employers must limit non-credit internships to paid positions in order to comply with US Department of Labor laws. The only exceptions to this policy are positions with non-profit organizations.

How do I receive academic credit?  Once you have an internship offer, you will want to obtain a faculty sponsor and complete a learning contract.  The learning contract (must be typed) should include a thorough description of your internship duties for the semester. The form requires starting and ending dates, number of hours you will work per week, learning objectives you have set for the experience, a list of reflection assignments and meeting times as decided upon by you and your faculty sponsor. It must also include all appropriate signatures prior to submission to the SCC for final approval. Once approved, your academic hold will be lifted and you will be able to register for the course in your myUK portal as you would any other course.  

What course options are available for academic credit?   Because credit limitations vary depending on your college, please check with your academic advisor to determine which internship credit option will be most beneficial to you. Some departments offer a 399 course for internships, which do not require a Career Center learning contract and allow you to register through your department. It is important to note that tuition is charged for credit earned through internship courses as in all other UK courses, including summer sessions.  All international students must be approved by an International Center student advisor and must register for credit when working off campus   Graduate students must be enrolled in the graduate-level course. All courses require learning contracts.   Courses available through the Career Center are:

  • EXP 396 General elective credit, variable credit hours (1 – 12), Pass/Fail. 
  • EXP 397 Experiential fieldwork, one general electric credit grants full-time status. Course is offered to students doing a full-time internship during fall and spring semesters. Grading is Pass/Fail.
  • EXP 510 A service-learning course for students involved in enhancing the common good. 3 hours.
  • EXP 650/651 Graduate level internship courses. EXP 650 – Letter grade.  EXP 651 is Pass/Fail.
  • Departmental 399   If available, you will register through your department.    

How many hours do I have to work?  This depends on the credit hours you wish to earn.  One credit hour = 48 site hours, 2 credits = 96 hours, 3 credits = 144 hours, etc. To calculate how many hours you will need to work per week to earn your desired credit hours:  divide the total number of site hours required by the number of weeks you will be working.

How do I find a faculty sponsor?   Your faculty sponsor should be within your major.  A faculty sponsor may be full-time or part-time. Teaching assistants may serve as faculty sponsors if the supervising faculty member approves. As your sponsor, the faculty member will assign your reflective learning assignments based on your specific learning objectives. The sponsor will meet with you during the semester to discuss your learning outcomes and monitor your progress. Your sponsor determines your final grade based on the completion of your academic assignments and required site hours.

When should I do an internship?  Meet with your academic advisor to determine the best semester for you.  Try to do more than one if possible. That requires you to start as early as possible to have time for additional opportunities.  The more relevant experience you have, the more competitive you will be upon graduation for career positions and application to graduate and professional schools.          

When should I start looking for an internship?   Start your research a full semester in advance.  Organizations will determine the application deadlines.  Very competitive positions typically have earlier deadlines.  Sometimes, however, there are positions available as late as the first week of the semester.       

Will I need to submit an application or resume and interview for the position?  Each organization stipulates requirements for determining potential candidates.  The SCC’s Handshake postings will contain detailed directions and contact information.  Some organizations require formal interviews and some do not.  To prepare, have your resume critiqued and do a practice interview with an SCC career advisor.