What is an internship?

Internships can provide you with real world experience to explore and gain relevant knowledge and transferable skills required to enter the working world. Internships are designed to give you the opportunity to work in pre-professional positions and apply your academic skills to practical work-based projects. Internships should have intentional learning goals outlined to ensure both the employer and you, the intern, are benefiting from the working relationship. Internships foster professional development, enable you to make networking contacts in you field of interest, and allow companies to view potential full-time employees. Internships are an excellent way to begin building those important connections which are valuable in developing and maintaining a strong professional network for the future.

Types of Internships

The type and duration of an internship can be flexible to accommodate the mutual needs of both the student and the employer. Internships come in three forms including academic credit internships, paid internships or non-paid internships.

Paid Internships:

A paid internship would be arranged between the intern and employer. The pay may be in the form of an hourly wage or salary. Some organizations offer a stipend paid in installments or as a lump sum based on the hours and weeks worked. It will be up to the intern and employer to negotiate the pay and terms of agreement for this type of internship.

Non-Paid Internships:

A non-paid internernship can be in violation of The Department of Labor Fair Labor Standards Act.

Academic Credit Internships:

An academic credit internship would be arranged between the intern, employer and sponsoring faculty. The prospective intern must take the initiative to prepare the paperwork and documents necessary for academic credit. Academic credit for internships is available only as arranged on an individual basis by students and their academic department. (See definition and standards (PDF, 47.6KB) listed below).

Internships are self-sought and secured individually by the student on a voluntary basis. Students who participate in any type of internship where academic credit is not given agree to the following:

I understand and acknowledge that there are risks associated with this internship, some of which may arise from (a) the location of the internship, (b) the amount and type of criminal activity at or near the location of the internship, (c) the hours when I will be present at the Internship Site, (d) the educational, criminal, mental and social backgrounds of the individuals I will be working with or serving, (e) my assigned tasks and responsibilities and (f) the amount of supervision I will receive. I further understand and acknowledge that my safety and well-being are primarily dependent upon my taking proper care of myself.

I have discussed the risks associated with this internship with my site supervisor at the Internship Site. Being aware of the reasonably foreseeable risks inherent in this internship, I nonetheless voluntarily choose to attend and participate in this internship, and I assume all risks of physical injury, accident, or death, and any property loss of any kind which may occur before, during, or after my participation in any aspect of this internship, including travel to and from the Internship Site.

How do I earn academic credit for an internship?

  1. Research local employers offering internships through Dolphin CareerLink and/or additional internship search databases (see internship databases listed below). You can also discuss internship opportunities with faculty or the CDS staff.
  2. Professionalize your resume, cover letter and professional reference sheet by meeting with a career resource assistant during resume clinic, drop-in career counseling, or drop-in office hours.
  3. Submit your application and requested documents to the internship contact person.
  4. Schedule a mock interview with CDS to polish your interview skills.

When the internship position is offered by the employer continue to the following steps:

  1. Contact the department chair of your academic discipline to identify a faculty sponsor.
  2. Discuss the internship opportunity including the internship agreement with your sponsoring faculty.
  3. Complete and submit all required paperwork including an internship agreement with your sponsoring faculty and internship supervisor.
  4. Register for the internship course in your academic discipline.

Internship Placement Agreement Form (Academic Credit Internships Only)

*Refer to the specific terms of agreement outlined in the internship placement agreement to fulfill all internship requirements needed to earn academic credit*

SemesterProjected Deadline to
Submit Academic Credit
Internship Agreement
Fall SemesterPrior to August 31
Spring SemesterPrior to January 15
Summer TermPrior to May 1

CSU Channel Islands' Academic Credit Internship Definition and Standard:


Academic Credit Internships integrate the students’ academic study with practical experience in cooperating organizations. Through the integration of practical and academic experience, students enhance their academic knowledge in their area of study, their personal development, and their professional preparation. The teaching faculty and the on-site supervisors share in the educational process of interns. Any academic department/program/unit/faculty can develop their appropriate guidelines and procedures and structure regarding internships. However, for the purposes of legally minimizing the risk of liability and ensuring a safe and effective internship program for the University, students, faculty, and partner organizations, the following policy should be incorporated into any University-related internship program (CSU Channel Islands, 2011-2012 University Catalog).

All internships should

Include a signed agreement with a senior representative of the partner agency or corporation and the University procurement officer as designated signature authority. In this agreement, it must be stated that the University assumes no risk or liability and that the sponsoring agency/corporation assumes full responsibility for the liability of the intern, affirming that they have requisite insurance to cover any potential harm to the intern, and include basic information such as location, contact person, and organization description (CSU Channel Islands, 2011-2012 University Catalog).

Include a learning agreement signed by the student, sponsoring faculty, and placement supervisor listing the learning goals of the internship and the duties and responsibilities of each party, notifying the student of the assignment of liability, terms and conditions and the listing of relevant agency policies, and the date the internship begins. This includes mention of whether the intern is paid and conditions for receiving academic credit. Faculty and/or programs must maintain a file of the aforementioned signed forms. The Dean of Faculty will also retain a sample copy of internship forms that are used (CSU Channel Islands, 2011-2012 University Catalog).

Back to Top ↑