Secrets of Student Intern Success

What is an internship?

Across the country's universities and colleges, internships are known by many different names and many different definitions. At K-State, internships have been defined as "educationally-related work experiences that integrate knowledge and theory with practical application and skill development in professional settings." In many cases, "internship" is a term that may be used interchangeably with co-op, field experience and practicum.

How is an internship different from a job?

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), internships should:
  • Provide the primary benefit to the student rather than the internship host.
  • Serve as learning experiences that use knowledge gained in the classroom.
  • Develop skills and knowledge that can be transferred to other settings.
  • Have a defined beginning and end time.
  • Detail learning objectives and/or professional goals of the experience.
  • Involve supervision by an individual with educational/professional expertise.
  • Provide opportunities for reflection by the student and feedback from the supervisor.
  • Include resources, equipment and/or facilities provided by the internship host that support learning objectives.

Why provide an internship?

Workforce recruitment is critical to many university-industry partnerships. Employers are increasingly expanding internship pools and tapping them to hire known talent. Providing internships also:

  • Infuses fresh, contemporary ideas into your workplace
  • Increases chances that students will remain in the area's workforce
  • Helps future employees develop skills and experience that can benefit your profession or industry

What's the difference between for-credit and not-for-credit internships?

Credit-bearing internships are designed to achieve a variety of student learning outcomes relevant to the discipline within which the internship is based. Requirements about the internship duration, credit hours, documentation for achieving credit and other criteria are detailed by specific academic programs.

Noncredit-bearing internships are intended to provide students with exploration of career opportunities not necessarily connected to a specific discipline or major. These internships have no specific guidelines according to the university. However, internship best practices should be followed to maintain a quality program that students will speak about positively when they share their experiences with others.

Learn more about K-State classes and stats on student internships:

Wildcat Internship Survey Dashboard

K-State Internship Courses

Planning For an Intern