What's the difference between an internship, co-op, practicum, clinical, etc.?
Good question! Experiential education describes any situation in which you are actively
engaged in hands-on learning experiences outside of the classroom. There are many types
of experiential education:
• Internship: typically a semester or academic year-long experience; allows students a
first-hand look at a particular career or industry
• Co-op: most commonly a full-time, paid experience in which you work for an
organization for a six-month or year-long contract-most common in technical fields
• Practicum/Clinical Experience: supervised practical application directly associated
with an academic program
• Academic or Laboratory Research: experience working on a research project
within your academic discipline
• Job Shadowing: following a professional in a career field of interest
• Externship: often offered by educational institutions (i.e. academic hospitals) to give
students short, practical experiences in their field of study
• Informational Interviews: an interview with a professional in a career field of interest
with the goal of gathering information on the field
• Volunteer Work: opportunities vary as related to your career field
• Part-time and Summer Jobs: can be related to your career field
How will an internship help me?
As you might expect, an internship can help you in a few ways:
• Apply knowledge you've learned in the classroom in a professional setting
• Find out if a career field is right for you (or not)
• Make connections with people doing the kind of work you want to do
• Get real-world experience that will impress employers more than major or GPA
What types of things might I do in an internship?
You will not fetch coffee! Though some administrative tasks can be expected, internships
will provide you the opportunity to do entry-level work under supervision and contribute to
the organization. Internships differ according to career field, but every internship has one
thing in common: Learning. Often, the amount that you learn is up to you: Be sure you ask
good questions and show that you're willing to work hard!
Where/how can I find an internship or related experience?
An internship search is just as challenging as finding a full-time job, however Career
Services has resources to help you at each step of the process. Internship search
1. Brainstorm possible internship options and research organizations of interest. If your
academic program has an internship advisor or website, that's a great place to start!
2. Meet with a career development specialist in Career Services* to:
a. Discuss your internship ideas
b. Discuss resources to help you with your search
c. Develop an Internship Action Plan
d. Create a resume
3. Make sure to utilize internship search resources on CareerLink, as well as information sessions, on-campus
recruiting, career fairs, and company/organization websites.
*Please note that junior and senior business students will meet with the
undergraduate internship coordinator in the Career Resource Center. For more
information, go here.
Are internships only for business students?
No. Internships are available for non-business majors in a variety of industries and
companies, as well as nonprofit organizations.
Can I get academic credit for my internship?
Meet with the internship advisor or coordinator for your school, program, or department to
find out if you can receive academic credit. Each program will have its own requirements.
Will I get paid in my internship?
Often, students in business, engineering and communication can participate in paid
experiences but all employers look highly upon candidates who have had an internship or
work experience during college, whether paid or unpaid.
Are unpaid internships in for-profit companies legal?
According to the Department of Labor: "There are some circumstances under which individuals who
participate in "for-profit" private sector internships or training programs may do so without
compensation. The determination of whether an internship or training program meets this
exclusion depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of each such program.
The following six criteria must be applied when making this determination:
1. 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;
2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of
4. 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;
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the
time spent in the internship."
What should I do if I have an issue with my internship or supervisor?
If you have issues, please contact Career Services or your internship coordinator as soon
I can't find an internship that fits my needs - what can I do?
It won't be easy, but you might be able to create your own internship if there's not one
posted for your field. Consider what you want to do and where you want to do it. Then,
contact your ideal company/organization and make a proposal. Who knows? You might find
that an internship program already exists, or you might create something that is far more
fulfilling than landing a not-quite-right internship. A career development specialist can help
you with this process.
I just finished my internship. Now what?
Ready to do another one? Many students have found it helpful to meet with a career
development specialist to help reflect on internship accomplishments and highlight the
experience on a resume. Don't wait to make an appointment, use SLU Appointments or call