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Speaker: Chaz Pitts-Kyser
Career Development Center
University of Houston-Downtown
One Main Street, Suite S402
Houston, TX 77002
8 am to 6 pm M-Th
8 am to 5 pm Friday
Field Experience (May also be called internship or co-op)
Field Experience is a pass/fail for-credit course that—
Once you receive an offer to work, you will follow the procedures as they are stated in the Field Experience Application.
Why do an internship?
Develop specific skills you will need in the future, build your resume in a field related to your major, develop relationships with professionals in your discipline, obtain professional references.
Is an internship required?
Most majors do not require an internship.
Some majors such as those in social science may require an internship. In that case, the academic department may have contacts with organizations that have an ongoing internship program, and the academic department will have a professor who is the Field Experience coordinator. See the link above for the Field Experience Application for a list of these professors).
The internship required for teacher certification is not part of Field Experience and is handled by UHD’s Urban Education department.
Should I get an internship if it is not required?
An internship in which you perform tasks that will also be expected of you after graduation is obviously going to be helpful to have on your resume. There are two situations where getting an internship might not be advised:
Students who work in well-paying jobs or jobs that provide health or education benefits should probably forgo an internship.
Students who perform sophisticated tasks or communicate in a sophisticated environment at work, even if the work is not directly related to their future field, may find that future employers are more interested in the broad experience they already have and an internship would only have marginal benefit.
Employers with Formal Ongoing Internships
Formal ongoing internship programs are more likely to be sponsored by not-for-profits—private and public social service agencies, criminal justice and other government agencies, and arts and cultural organizations. Newspapers and TV and radio stations also usually have ongoing internship programs.
Large corporate employers sometimes have formal ongoing internship programs. These can be highly selective and may be limited to students enrolled at particular schools. These programs are usually used as a recruiting tool for future permanent hires.
In any case, formal ongoing internship programs are often recruited for well in advance of the internship start date. It is not unusual for employers to recruit as much as two semesters before the internship start date.
Smaller employers will often have an occasional internship that they advertise for, or they might consider an internship if approached by a student. Remember, there is nothing magical about an “internship.” The magic results from what you actually do in the internship not what it is called. It may be that what the employer would prefer is a part-time employee.
How to find an internship
Start looking two semesters before you plan to work. Large employers are more likely to have early application deadlines as are large government and private agencies.
Identify employers who would offer experience that would help you learn more about your field and apply directly to them or try to talk to someone who works at those employers who is also in your field.
Decide what kind of work experience you want on your resume. You may have the option to negotiate what tasks you will perform during your internship.
Smaller employers may not have thought about having interns, or they may not think it advisable. You need to approach these employers with what you can specifically do for them. Perhaps there is a particular project that you can take on. You may need to avoid the whole idea of an “internship.” Some employers think, “internship,” and come up with “low or no pay, student who needs training, short-timer,” none of which they or you may find appealing. Instead, you and they might be better served by a longer-term commitment like a part-time job.
Volunteering – An alternative to interning or an entrée to it.
Volunteering may give you valuable experience assuming you can identify what you are capable of doing for an organization and you negotiate how you will spend your time in advance of committing. You should treat volunteering like a job, showing up regularly and on time, meet deadlines, and pay attention to quality.
Our Career Development Center database of employers’ currently posted positions (jobs4gators) www.uhd.edu/jobs4gators
A list of employers that have had UHD students as interns. Field Experience Employers (apply at their site).
A list of Social Science intern sites: Department of Social Sciences - Internship Marketplace
Google to identify internship sponsors-- either individual employers or groups such as HACU, InRoads, HACE, and All Across Texas (Texas Workforce Commission).
Consult www.quintcareers.com for tips on networking. Most internships are obtained by networking.
Page maintained by Office of Student Affairs
Last updated or reviewed on 10/30/14