Center for Career and Professional Development

Internships

The Center for Career and Professional Development can assist you with the entire Internship process, from start to finish! Here are a few ways that we can help:

Finding an Internship. We have resources to help you to locate the ideal Internship experience!

Navigating the paperwork process. You can bring your paperwork to our office for help with filling it out, or determining whose signature goes where!

Completing the Internship for credit process. Did you know that most Academic Departments have the ability to give you credit for completing an Internship?

    • For most Departments, you are required to complete between 150-220 hours for an unpaid Internship, dependent on Department and academic requirements.
    • You will also be required to fulfill the academic requirement for the course, which most often consists of some form of a work log and a 3-5 page final paper.  The requirements vary by department.
    • If your major is listed below, our office coordinates the entire process for credit.  If your major is not listed, please contact your advisor to begin the process.  Even if your major does not coordinate their Internships through our office, we are available to assist you with the rest of your Internship experience:
      • Art & Graphic Design
      • Biology
      • Business Law
      • Computer Information Systems
      • Chemistry and Physics
      • Computer Science
      • Electrical & Computer Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering
      • Engineering Technology
      • English
      • Entrepreneurship
      • Film
      • Finance
      • Forensic Science
      • Hospitality & Tourism
      • Interior Design
      • Management

Please see "State Authorization" below for a list of the states in which WCU students are not authorized to receive academic credit for their Internships.

More Information about Internships

Why are Internships so Important?

You may be asking yourself why an Internship is so important.  What can it do for you and why should you take time out of your busy schedule to do it?

  • More and more, employers are looking for experience, even in entry-level jobs.  But, how can you get experience before you graduate?  The answer is through an Internship! 
  • Employers are more willing and interested in hiring students who completed an Internship.  “Not only does participation in an internship make the student a more attractive candidate,” says NACE Executive Director Marilyn Macke, “but it can also be an avenue to a job.”  According to NACE's 2013 Internship and Co-Op Survey Report, employers make full-time offers to 56.5 percent of their interns. 
  • Networking.  Interning with an organization is an excellent way to get your foot in the door and also to make some valuable contacts.  Networking is the number one way to find a job in today's market, and developing those connections are a vital part of the job search and career-building process.  Make sure to utilize networking sites such as LinkedIn in order to keep your contacts handy and to help you to network more effectively. You can set up an appointment with our office to learn some networking strategies and skills to help you with this process. You can call our main line at 828-227-7133 to set up an appointment.
  • You may be paid more starting out if you have an Internship on your resume. In 2005, NACE reported that surveyed employers paid their entry-level hires up to 6.5 times MORE if they had an Internship experience.
  • Skill-building. You can gain valuable skills during an Internship experience, including (but not limited to): teamwork, communication, cooperation, customer service, technical skills, technology, and hands-on experience.  If you go into an Internship, a lot of the time, you will be working at a higher level than you normally would as a typical entry-level employee.  This gives you valuable experience that could otherwise take months, or even years, to gain otherwise.
  • You can confirm your career goals, or even change them completely! Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, we do not discover that our career goals and aspirations aren't quite what we were hoping for until we're already in the workforce.  Sometimes a career sounds like a great fit on paper, but in reality, isn't satisfying and beneficial.  Internships are an excellent way to make sure that our career goals are exactly what we want and need, and can provide us with the time to tweak our goals to be more in line with our personal goals and interests.

Internship work experiences are an integral part of a student's education and supplement academic study with opportunities for professional development. It's never too early for an Internship or shadowing experience!  At WCU, we offer Internships for credit in most majors for Juniors and Seniors. The Center for Career & Professional Development helps coordinate the process for various academic departments across campus, and is available to answer questions and help you with every step of the process, no matter your major or year.

STATE AUTHORIZATION

NC-SARA
Western Carolina University has been approved by the North Carolina State Portal Agency to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. NC-SARA is a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of post-secondary distance education.

Students from SARA member states may take online courses and programs from WCU. Students (on-campus or online) may conduct internships, clinicals and other field experiences in SARA states.

SARA states are indicated in blue on the map.

 SARA Map


Authorization in Non SARA States:

California, Florida, and Massachusetts are not members of SARA.   WCU’s online programs are authorized or exempt from authorization in these states. Internships and field experiences are permitted in these states. 

Special note concerning internships and field experiences in regulated professions in all states: Some state licensing boards may require specific licensure or approvals to conduct a clinical or field experience. It is up to the student or the student’s program to make this determination.

Internship Insurance

Student Internship Insurance
Students whom are engaging in paid or unpaid internships can be covered by the Student Intern Professional Liability coverage.  There are two different policies available to student interns: 

HPSO (Healthcare Providers Service Organization) - This policy can be used for all medical student internships only.  The policy covers student nurses, EMTs, Nutritionists, Lab Technicians etc. who are participating in internships at off site medical facilities. The policy offers $1,000,000.00 worth of coverage per claim brought against the student.  The cost of this policy is $13.00 per year.  A COI (Certificate of Insurance) will be provided to the student to take to their internship site as proof of insurance.  Students or Faculty interested in enrolling their students in this policy should contact the Safety & Risk Management Office for an enrollment form.

Montgomery - This policy can be used for both medical and non-medical student interns.  The policy offers $1,000,000.00 worth of liability coverage and has a per semester policy term.  The cost of the policy is $15.75 per semester.  A COI (Certificate of Insurance) will be provided to the student to take to their internship site as proof of insurance.  Students or Faculty interested in enrolling their students in the policy should contact the Safety & Risk Management Office for an enrollment form. 

*Please contact the Safety & Risk Management Office ext 7443 regarding current student internship policy rates.

Internship FAQs

How do I become eligible for Internship positions?

You are eligible to participate once you achieve sophomore status, have at least a 2.00 GPA, and are enrolled as a student at Western at least half-time. You may submit your application and other pertinent information via JobCat 2.0 as early as the second semester of the freshman year. However, positions usually require students to have some course background in their major. Therefore, approval may not occur until the late sophomore or early junior year, depending on the Internship policies and practices of your Department.

What is JobCat 2.0?

JobCat 2.0 is the software program Career Services uses for students to register for all services provided by our office, including Internships. Pertinent information (name, current address, permanent address, etc.) is entered here as well as a resume. You can log into JobCat 2.0 anywhere you have access to the Internet.

Am I guaranteed an Internship position if I apply?

Not necessarily. All positions are competitive. You must make yourself as attractive to the employer as possible by making your best grades, getting involved in extra-curricular activities, and having some idea of the career field in which you are interested. We will help you with writing resumes and job interviewing. Preparing for the Internship competition is very similar to the senior placement process and will be very helpful to you whether you obtain an Internship position or not.

Are Internships available to all majors?

Virtually all majors may now participate in Internships. Academic programs with a student teaching or field experience requirement are less likely to participate although it is possible even in those areas. In the Colleges of Health & Human Sciences, Fine & Performing Arts,  Arts & Sciences, Business and the Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology, many curricula offer Internship opportunities every semester. In the health sciences curricula, students typically participate in the summer semester.

How much academic credit do I get for an Internship?

For most Internships, you will receive 3 credit hours.  Some academic departments offer 1-hour courses as well. You are awarded the credit if the work term and academic requirements are successfully completed. You may earn up to 15 hours of Internship (5 semesters) total credit. Internships usually serve as upper-level elective credit, but you should check with the academic department to be sure.

What are the requirements for academic credit?

The student's major department or area in which he/she chooses to Internship determines academic requirements. Most students must prepare a term report and work log. At the midpoint of the semester, your professor will contact your employer to evaluate your progress.  The employer provides the institution with an evaluation of the student's work at the end of the term. The student's academic work and the employer evaluations are assessed by the Career Services Liaison (CSL) for credit on a Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory basis.

Could you find an Internship position for me in my hometown?

We will be glad to assist you in this effort. If we do locate a position for you that fulfills the Internship requirements, you must register for Internship credit.

What about housing at the job location?

You are on your own in regard to locating housing. It's part of the Internship experience. Many employers provide housing lists. If the position is not too far from home or campus, it is worthwhile to make a trip earlier to set up housing.

How much does it cost?

Once a position is obtained, you must register for Internship in your major or the discipline most closely related to the job. For full-time Internships, you pay tuition for three semester hours of credit at the current rate. For part-time Internships, you pay tuition for one hour of semester credit.

What about Financial Aid?

If you apply for Internship positions and you are eligible for financial aid, you should definitely apply for the aid, in case you do not get an Internship position. If you are given a financial aid award and then accept an Internship position, you cannot accept the aid (during the Internship term) if you are registered for less than half-time. Some students take courses while on Internship and receive partial financial aid.

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