Internship FAQ's

General information about internships

What is an internship? Where can I find more information? expanding section

The best way to learn more about doing an internship is to attend one of the internship information sessions sponsored by the Career Services Office.  In addition, this list of questions has been created to help you find the answers to many of your questions.  Career Services staff members are also more than willing to answer any questions you may have about internships.

What are the benefits of doing an internship? expanding section
  • Career Exploration – Internships allow students to explore career options within their fields of study.
  • Related Work Experience – Internships provide the opportunity for students to gain valuable work experience prior to graduation.
  • Academic Credit – Students may earn academic credit for internship experiences.
  • Financial Assistance – Some internship positions are paid.
Is there a tuition charge? expanding section

If you are doing an internship to earn academic credit, the same tuition fee is charged as if you were taking a class for that number of credits. This may mean that you don’t have to pay anything additionally if you are enrolled as a full-time student and the extra credits for your internship will not exceed 18 credit hours. However, during the summer you will need to pay the amount per credit as set by the University.

How much do internships pay? expanding section

The wage rate for internships varies greatly by field and individual organization. There is no set amount that can be expected for all interns. There are also some employers, oftentimes not-for-profit organizations that do not pay student interns. Remember, the primary goal of an internship is to gain valuable experience that will help you get a better sense of the “real-world” and may give you an advantage when you begin to search for jobs after graduation.

How long do internships last? expanding section

Ultimately, the decision for how long an internship lasts is determined by your internship employer. Generally, internships are usually part-time during the semester and full-time during the summer. However, some students choose to do internships full-time during the semester as well. It is important to work out these details early on in your search for an internship because some companies require a full-year commitment for internships.

How many hours do I have to work to earn credit(s)? expanding section

Typically, one credit is equal to 40 hours of work or more. However, the employer determines the duration of the internship regardless of the amount of credit. Depending on major requirements, you can earn between 1 and 15 credits for an internship. Please talk a Career Services staff member about your specific situation.

Can I earn credit for an internship that I did in the past? expanding section

You cannot receive credit for an internship that was previously completed. University policy dictates that students must be at their internship site during the term for which they are registered for academic credit.

(For international students) What are the differences between an internship, curricular practical training, and optional practical training? expanding section
  • Internships (INT) are elective experiences that help international students combine classroom theory with a worksite experience related to your major. Internships are posted online through the Handshake system.
  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an academic program that provides an employment or training opportunity for experience either required for the degree, or as an integral part of the degree program. Authorization is given by the UWL Office of International Education and Engagement (IEE).
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization is coordinated by the IEE. Under your student VISA you are authorized to work in the USA for a designated period of time but only if the work relates to your field of study. IEE holds general group presentations on OPT at various times throughout the semester. An IEE application must be completed in order to begin the OPT process. 

All international students doing a paid INT/CPT must meet an adviser in the IEE for CPT authorization prior to your start date. Waiting until after you have started will put you in violation of your student status-which is very serious.

Help! I forgot my login/password for Handshake. expanding section

Your login to Handshake will be the same as all other university logins as it is tied to the single sign-on system.  If you should need to update your password, please visit the UWL ITS website for instructions.

If your email has changed (after graduation, for example), call Career Services at 785-8514 to update your record.

Getting an internship

When should I start exploring internship opportunities? expanding section

It is never too early to start preparing and searching for internships. Begin by attending an Internship Information Session. At the session you will learn ways to prepare yourself to compete for successful internships. Students are encouraged to begin their internship search during their sophomore year.

How can I better prepare myself for an internship? expanding section

The key to landing a competitive internship is to begin preparing early. As soon as you come to campus, you should begin to work towards making yourself an outstanding candidate. This includes maintaining high grades as well as taking part in other activities and organizations that will help set you above others when it comes time to apply for internships-especially those that are extremely competitive.

When should I start applying for internships? expanding section

The following schedule is the general timeline of when internships are posted in our system. However, the earlier you begin searching, the more opportunities you are likely to find.

  • Spring Internships - Early to Late Fall
  • Summer Internships - Early Fall to Late Spring
  • Fall Internships - Mid Spring to Early Fall
Are there prerequisites that must be met before I can apply for an internship? expanding section

The answer to this question depends on whether or not you plan to do an internship for academic credit.

  • For credit – If you choose to earn academic credit for your internship, the amount of credit you may receive and the prerequisites vary by academic department. Look at the University Catalog to determine if your program offers credit for internships. If you would like to receive credit for your internship but your major does not offer a class, you may be eligible to enroll in a Cooperative Education Internship (CEI 450). Credits earned in CEI 450 usually only count toward University electives and not toward the completion of any major or minor. Please see the University Catalog for specific details or discuss internships with a Career Services staff member. It is important to note that there are no exceptions to the listed requirements. Prerequisites cannot be taken concurrently with internships. 
  • Not for credit – There are no prerequisites if the internship is not being taken for credit. However, we ask that you still inform the Career Services Office of your internship position so we are able to keep our intern numbers up-to-date.
What resources are available to help me locate and apply for internships? expanding section
  • Handshake: Our online Handshake system (which can be accessed through the Career Services website) has a variety of resources to help you. This includes an Internship & Job Vacancy List. Employers continuously send the university announcements about internships and full-time positions. See the positions and apply. In addition, Career Services advisers do weekly job searches from local, regional and state resources for WI, MN and various other locations. 
  • Career Services homepage: By clicking the “Students” link on the Career Services homepage page, you are able to access several other resources as well: Career Event listings, sample resumes and cover letters, interviewing tips, additional job and internship websites, links to company web pages, and more. 
  • On-Campus interviews: Many employers interview on campus for internships and full-time positions. You can sign up for interviews through Handshake or by talking with representatives at Career Fairs. 
  • Interview stream: This program allows you to answer pre-selected interview questions and capture your responses on video so you can review your answers and non-verbal behavior.
  • Career Services staff: Staff members are available to help with any questions you may have or to help you search or prepare for internships or jobs.
Who do I talk to in Career Services about internships? expanding section

For questions regarding how to obtain an internship, you should talk with the adviser assigned to your area of study:

  • College of Business – Brenda Leahy
  • Science and Allied Health – Amanda Blair (If your major requires an internship, field work or clinical experiences, it will be coordinated through your academic major, department or program office, not Career Services.)
  • Liberal Studies, Arts & Communication – Aiyana Dettmann

For other questions related specifically to internship applications and registration, talk with Career Services Internship Coordinator who deals directly with the Cooperative Education and Internship Program.

Can I get an internship outside the Midwest? expanding section

Employers are often very loyal to local students, so these are generally quite competitive positions for students from other parts of the country. If you are searching for an internship outside of the Midwest, it is important to schedule an individual meeting with your Career Services adviser.

Can I get an international internship? expanding section

If you are interested in doing an international internship outside of the U.S., you should contact the International Education and Engagement Office located in 1209 Centennial Hall.

Once you have an internship

I have accepted an internship position. What should I do next? expanding section

After you have accepted an internship position, follow this link for a tutorial.  

  1. Log into Handshake
  2. Go to your “Career Center” at the top of the login page and select “Experiences”
  3. Click on “Request an Experience” – FILL OUT EVERY FIELD - EVEN IF IT IS NOT REQUIRED.  Once completed, this will now activate the approval process with Career Services and your Faculty Internship Advisor**.
  4. Once all the approvals are complete, Career Services will register you for credit.  You are NOT able to register for internship credit through WINGS
  5. The Internship Coordinator will send you an email notifying you when you have been registered for your internship course.
  6. Near the end of the semester prior to your internship, you will be invited to an internship orientation for more information on the requirements that are needed throughout your internship.

 QUESTIONS:  Contact either your Career Advisor in Career Services or Karen Durnin, Internship Coordinator. 

** Your Faculty Intern Advisor is determined by your academic department in which you are earning the credit.  Many departments will allow you to select any faculty member in the department to academically supervise your internship (they do not need to necessarily be your assigned faculty advisor) and other departments will have an assigned “Internship Coordinator”.  Consult your departmental website or inquire with the department.


How do I receive credit for my internship? expanding section

The prerequisites that must be met before an internship vary greatly by department. Because of these differences, you should look at the University Catalog for listings of the prerequisites for your specific area of study.  Once you confirm that you meet the prerequisites, you must submit the experience in Handshake (Click on Career Center, then Experience and Request an Experience) or in Career Services.

Why do I need a faculty advisor? expanding section

In addition to working with their assigned advisor in the Career Services Office, students must also work with a faculty member of the department for which they are getting academic credit. Your internship faculty advisor is not necessarily the same as your academic adviser. You should choose a faculty member in the department for which you will be getting internship credit. This will allow you to get the most out of your internship experience.  Your internship faculty advisor is responsible for submitting your grade for the internship credit - not Career Services.  Please consult with your faculty advisor if you have questions.

What do I do if my internship forms will be late? expanding section

It is important to make sure that your forms are turned in on time to ensure that you will receive credit for your internship. However, if you know that you will be unable to turn in your forms by the assigned deadline, please contact the Internship Coordinator in the Career Services Office so she is able to make arrangements for your specific case.

What do I do if I am experiencing difficulties at my internship site? expanding section

The following situations should be communicated and dealt with as soon as possible to avoid more serious problems:

  • Problems with supervision
  • Internship is not relevant or challenging
  • Excessive menial duties
  • A personal concern that will affect your attendance or performance on your internship

Contact Career Services at 608.785.8570 or email if you experience a problem with your internship.

What do I do if I do not receive a grade for my internship? expanding section

Your grade (letter grade or pass/fail depending on the internship credit for which you are eligible and registered) will be submitted at the end of the semester by your internship faculty adviser. If there is a problem with your grade, you must contact your internship faculty adviser directly. Career Services is not responsible for submitting grades.