What Is an Internship?

What is an Internship?

An internship is a supervised pre-professional learning experience, in which students apply their skills and knowledge in a professional setting. By offering their time, talent, and enthusiasm, Dutchess Community College interns will contribute to an organization's mission and goals, while gaining valuable skills for the future, and seeing if a career is right for them. DCC credit may be awarded for the learning occurring at the site and reflected in written assignments.

An internship is not:

  • A part-time or full-time job that does not specify career related learning strategies and objectives.
  • Unsupervised volunteer experience.
  • Routine, repetitive clerical tasks.
  • A source of "easy" credit.

Goals of an internship are to:

  • Provide students with a realistic view of the workplace culture and expectations.
  • Integrate academic preparation with professional challenges.
  • Build confidence and success through internship experiences.
  • Encourage contact between DCC students and professionals in their field of interest.
  • Help students build professional networks.

How does an internship work?

An internship can be a variety of positions, as long as it contributes to the professional development of the student. In order to do this, certain considerations should be taken into account.

  • First, a position must be set up to fulfill a set of goals for professional development. These can be more general (e.g. to gain a sense of the work environment within a private law firm) or more specific (e.g. to learn a particular field-related skill). All intern projects should further these goals, helping the student to gain experience and develop skills. In order to make this possible, it is imperative that all internship positions be assigned a supervisor. This supervisor works directly with the intern, providing training, guidance and feedback over the course of the position.
  • Second, an internship must include a system for feedback and communication. Regular feedback sessions are formally arranged to facilitate consistent supervision, guidance, and constructive criticism on a weekly basis. A formal midterm conference date may be set and included in this contract. Also, a final written evaluation from the supervisor of the student’s performance is highly encouraged. If the student’s performance was good, we urge interns to ask for letters of recommendation.