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Internships can truly enhance students’ education by expanding skill sets and exposure to real world situations. It is no longer a question of whether or not a student should do an internship during their college careers, but rather how many.


Internship Fund

Through generous donations by benefactors on and off campus, WOU has funding available for students scheduled to participate in internships. This funding program is intended to alleviate the costs incurred by a student as a result of participating in an internship crucial to their career success.

Requests have included support to purchase professional clothing/shoes and transportation/gas. Awards have ranged from $50 – $400 dollars.

To learn more about eligibility requirements and the application process visit our Internship Fund page.


WOU Community Internship Program (WOU CiP)

The WOU Community Internship Program (WOU CiP) provides access to academically and career relevant paid on-campus internship opportunities for Western students. WOU students are able to gain invaluable internship experiences that facilitate professional development and integration of classroom knowledge. 

To learn more about eligibility requirements and the application process visit our WOU CiP page.

Preparing for an Internship Search


SLCD offers students a variety of career-related programs, events, and appointments that can help students in their internship preparation, search, and experience. Learn more below or contact our staff for additional details.

What is an Internship?

To ensure that an experience is educational, and thus eligible to be considered a legitimate internship by the National Association of Colleges and Employers definition, all the following criteria must be met:

  1. The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
  2. The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
  3. The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
  4. There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework.
  5. There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
  6. There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor. 
  7. There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.

Experiences that Typically DO NOT qualify as Internships:

  • Commission-based positions.
  • Internships located in home-based businesses.
  • Situations where 100% of the work is done remotely or virtually.
  • Positions in which the intern displaces a regular employee.
  • Positions that require door-to-door canvassing, cold-calling, or petition gathering.
  • “Independent contractor” relationships that require the intern to set up his/her own business for the purpose of selling products, services, and/or recruiting other individuals to set up their own business.
  • Family-owned businesses or positions supervised by a family member.
  • Telemarketing positions.
  • Positions in which the student is required to pay the employer for any part of the experience (fees for training, etc.).

Internship vs. Part-Time Job: What’s the Difference?

What makes internships unique is the focus on student learning. This is an opportunity for the student to apply skills learned in the classroom or elsewhere, that tie to the student’s academic, career or personal goals. While the student might perform some roles that are not for their learning, the goal is for them to explore and practice their professional identity under supervision and with mentoring.

An example could be a student wanting to apply their writing skills and learn professionalism by writing press releases for a department. The expectation is that the student needs some coaching and guidance and not be expected to accomplish the task perfectly on the first try. With gentle feedback, however, the final output will be professional, well written and offer a fresh, student oriented perspective that relates to your audience.


Benefits of an Internship


  • Gain exposure to real-world problems and issues that perhaps are not found in textbooks.
  • Cultivate adaptability and creativity in a dynamic world.
  • Increase marketability to employers. On average, only 30% of graduating seniors have job offers before graduation; however, after completing an internship, that figure rises to 58%.
  • Evaluate specific companies or specific careers prior to committing to full-time employment—a “try before you buy” type experience.
  • Ease transition from being a student to entering the workforce.
  • Increase opportunities within a company for faster advancement and growth.
  • Increase self-confidence in the workplace while developing an expanded network of associates and professionals.
  • Facilitate a higher starting salary than non-interns. In a recent study interns received, on average, $2,240 more than non-interns for starting salary.
  • Have resume-building experiences while applying academic concepts and principles.
  • Have opportunities to fund college education.
  • Have personal growth experiences and exposure to different job opportunities.
  • Have hands-on opportunities to work with equipment and technology that may not be available on campus.


  • Provides learning experiences that are more valuable than case studies and lectures.
  • Connects faculty to current trends within their professional field.
  • Develops more competitive and employable graduates.
  • Increases program credibility and student excellence as well as stronger ties with alumni in the professional fields.
  • Validates the university’s curriculum in a working environment.
  • Improves post-graduation statistics for the university.
  • May accelerate corporate fund-raising efforts.

Internship Providers

  • Creates the opportunity to recruit future employees. (In one year, Hewlett Packard recruited 70% of its new hires from its pool of interns.)
  • Gives the opportunity to evaluate prospective employees virtually risk free.
  • Saves money since an intern receives less pay and fewer benefits than a full-time employee.
  • Functions as flexible, cost-effective work force without long-term commitments.
  • Frees up professional staff to pursue more creative projects.
  • Offers a year-round source of highly motivated pre-professionals.
  • Garners quality candidates for temporary or seasonal positions and short-term projects.
  • Brings new and innovative ideas to an employer.
  • Presents an excellent way to find new, energetic, and skilled employees who bring latest industry knowledge fresh from lectures and other campus resources.
  • Seamlessly converts student interns to full-time employees who can be immediately productive.
  • Strengthens the bond with the university and projects a favorable image in the community.
  • Allows the employer the opportunity to have an impact on molding the lives of students.


Internships for Academic Credit

Policies and procedures regarding internships for credit, are somewhat unique to each academic department at WOU. Most programs have a designated course of 1-12 available credits. The program or designated faculty member stipulates prerequisites as well as a process for creating learning outcomes, reflection and supervision. In order for an internship or an experiential learning activity to be eligible for academic credit, several individuals must work together: the student, faculty advisor, and the site supervisor. Below you will find general guidelines helpful in getting started.


Best Practices and Legal Issues