Getting Experience through Internships
If you are an EMPLOYER seeking internship information or wanting to post an internship, please follow this link.
Quick links for this page:
- What is an Internship?
- International Students and Internships
- Applying for an Internship: Getting help with your resume
- Internships: Paid or Unpaid?
- How long do internships last, and how many hours per week should I expect to work?
- On the Job Mentoring and Supervision
- Earning Credit For an Internship
- Formal vs. Informal Internships, and how to create your own learning experience
- Search for an Internship: Online Resources
- Internship Sites - Employer Links
- Additional Internship Resources
Internship Program Adviser: Jeanne M. Ellis, firstname.lastname@example.org, 503-725-4005
Often referred to as "experiential learning", an internship is an opportunity to go outside the classroom to experience real-world learning in a professional work environment. Internships can add much value to a student's career exploration and development, and in some cases may provide early access into their chosen career.
Watch this great video created by Kenny, a Portland State student who knows the value of getting experience while in college:
Typically students will seek an internship in a field related to their major. The work performed during an internship should be highly educational, closely supervised, include learning objectives, and reinforce a student’s academic training.
Internships can be paid or unpaid, and in either case should qualify for academic credit if desired by the student. Internships taken for academic credit must be sponsored by a faculty member, preferably in the student's major. The cost to the student for credit earned is determined by the number of hours worked. See below for a typical ratio of work hours to credit hours earned.
If an internship is not taken for credit, it is the student's responsibility to determine the suitability of the experience. However, if there are questions or concerns about an employer or internship -- either before or during the internship, students are encouraged to meet with the professional staff in Advising & Career Services or with a faculty member regarding their concerns.
International students are eligible to apply for off-campus internships through a process called Curricular Practical Training. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of off-campus work authorization specifically designed for international students. Students whose program of study requires an internship or whose academic advisor can verify that the internship adds meaningful experience to the academic program may be eligible to apply. At Portland State University (PSU), if an internship is not a required component of a degree program, then the student must enroll for credit. That credit must count towards graduation requirements. CPT authorization is employer specific, so a student must have a job/internship offer before applying for CPT, and it must be related to the student's field of study. Please see International Student & Scholar Services website for eligibility and application information: CPT Application Information.
A well-written cover letter and a polished and professional resume are most often required for application to an internship. PSU Advising & Career Services (ACS) offers resume and cover letter critiques through individual scheduled appointments and daily drop-in hours. ACS also offers multiple workshops including cover letter and resume writing and effective interviewing. For more information on scheduled appointments, drop-in hours and workshops, go to www.pdx.edu/advising-career-services.
Compensation for time spent in an internship depends upon the employer and/or the project. Many government and non-profit-related organizations offer unpaid internships, while most for-profit internships are paid, although there are exceptions.
Unpaid internships with for-profit companies are subject to federal labor laws which are meant to distinguish an intern from a volunteer or an employee, and to also emphasize to the employer the necessary educational and legal aspects of an internship.
In addition to observing state and federal mandated labor laws (see link above), Advising & Career Services uses the following guidelines to ensure that unpaid internships are meaningful, educational opportunities for our students, and that the internships are within the legal confines as defined by current labor laws. These guidelines are derived from the National Association of Colleges & Employers criteria for unpaid internships as well as the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries standards for unpaid training.
Guidelines for Unpaid Internships with FOR-PROFIT Employers:
- The internship is highly educational and will primarily benefit the Intern
- Learning objectives are established with the intern before beginning the internship and are revisited regularly to ensure ongoing objectives are being met
- The intern is supervised throughout the internship and is not the on-site expert for any project or task
- The intern does not displace a paid employee
- The employer derives no immediate financial advantage from the Intern (i.e.; no selling)
- No more the 30% of the Intern's time should be spent on clerical or repetitive tasks
- The internship is a substantial learning experience, such that a faculty member would approve the internship as worthy of academic credit
Internships are usually one term in duration, but occasionally longer depending upon the employer or project. The length of an internship is flexible, but should be agreed upon by both the student and the employer early in the process. Most internships are designed to follow the academic calendar and will involve working on a project which lasts throughout a term, others may be designed to span the summer months when many students are not enrolled in classes. An optimal work week is 10-15 hours, but some internships during summer months may be full-time.
Working closely with a supervisor or mentor at a job site is what helps make an internship successful. It provides regular opportunities to ask questions, and develop new skills and professional practices, and will likely result in an experience that benefits both the intern and the employer.
Students may be eligible to earn credit for internships, however it should be noted that Employers cannot directly offer or guarantee academic credit for their internship. Instead, Portland State students are required use the Credit by Arrangement process described below to earn academic credit.
When applying for academic credit, it is necessary to consult with a faculty member/sponsor who teaches courses in the area most closely related to your major and the internship opportunity.
The faculty sponsor will review the position description and determine its value as a credit-worthy experience. In addition to the duties as outlined in the internship description, PSU faculty sponsors often require students to perform additional assignments or duties to earn credit, such as weekly reports, or culminating projects or papers -- however this is at the discretion of the faculty member.
Once the position has been deemed credit-worthy, the faculty member certifies the internship experience by signing a Credit By Arrangement form which is available on line and through the PSU Office of Registration and Records. The resulting "By Arrangement" courses are omnibus-numbered (e.g. 401-409, 501-509,or 601-609). The instructor submits the form to the Registration Office and the student receives credit in the subject area.
At the undergraduate level these credits are pass/no pass. A graded option, called practicum (409), is also available in certain circumstances and in specific academic departments. In this case, by-arrangement courses must be approved by the instructor and department chair, but those arranged with instructors in the College of Urban and Public Affairs and the Graduate School of Social Work additionally require the appropriate Dean's signature.
How many credits can be earned for an internship and what is the cost?
Internships are generally limited to 4 credits. The number of credit hours earned and the resulting cost to the student is relative to the number of hours spent working in an internship. Typically, a total of 40 hours of work is required to earn one credit, which means a student must complete 160 hours of work (16 hours per week over a 10 week term) for 4 credits. However, there are exceptions to this ratio. Please check with your faculty sponsor for the specific ratio of work to credit hours and the relative cost for credit hours earned for your internship experience.
By Arrangement Request Forms are available online, at the Office of Registration and Records in the Neuberger Hall lobby, and from the instructor. Typically, the instructor/faculty sponsor will submit completed forms to the Registration office for processing. Changes made to the student's registration are viewable via myPSU.
The final day to enroll in by-arrangement courses is the same as the final day to add classes for the term. However, if enrollment in the by-arrangement is required in order to receive Financial Aid, the course must be added before the end of the second week of the term.
How can I find a faculty sponsor for my Credit by Arrangement?
It is best to consult with a faculty member whom you already know. Most students ask faculty from whom they have already taken a course in their option area. Generally, faculty are most willing to work with students they know. For this reason, it makes sense to do “for credit” internships once you have completed at least one upper division course in your subject area.
The differences between a Formal and an Informal Internship, and how to create your own.
A formal internship is one which is posted by an employer or agency. An informal internship is one created when a student approaches an employer and together they design a position which complements and reinforces the student’s academic training.
- Portland State University Internships Database
- Nonprofit Internships
- CNRG Opportunity Center
- Oregon Internships
- Simply Hired
- City of Portland Internships
- Business Education Compact
- Mac's List for Internships
- International Internships: IE3 Global Internships
- Best Bets for International Internships
- Volunteer opportunities: Hands On Portland
The following list with links to employer websites was derived from Advising & Career Services' jobs & internships database and reflects previously posted internship opportunities. This list does not reflect current openings or all potential places for obtaining a paid or unpaid internship. However, it serves as a tool to connecting with a number of community partners who have posted internship opportunities at Portland State in the recent past.
1000 Friends of Oregon — Gerhardt Summer Intern, Grassroots Organizing Intern, Public Interest Intern
ADP Dealer Services — Software QA Intern
Affinity Property Management, LLC — Accounts Payable Intern
AFS Intercultural Programs — Outbound Exchange Student Visa Intern
AIMCO — Electrical Engineering Intern, Electro-Mechanical Assembly Technician Intern, Mechanical Engineering Intern, Software Engineering Intern
- Architectural Heritage Center — Graphic Design Intern, Historic Preservation/Archival Work/Historic Research Intern, Library/Archival Museum Collections Work Intern, Marketing/Journalism/Design Management Intern, Non-Profit Development & Membership Program Intern
- Asian & Pacific Islander Community Improvement Association, Inc. — Intern
Audubon Society of Portland — Environmental Education Intern, Explorador Summer Camp Intern, Media/Communications Intern, Social Media Intern
- Beaverton City Library — Adult Reader Services Intern, Family Resource Fair Youth Services Intern
- Beneath the Tree International — English Teaching Intern (China)
Bicycle Transportation Alliance — Communications, Intern, Encouragement Program Intern, Membership/Development Intern
Bitch Magazine — Publishing Intern
Boeing Company — BCA Mechanical & Structural Engineering Intern, Business Intern, Corporate Finance Intern, Integrated Defense Systems Intern, Manufacturing Intern
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) — Public Utilities Specialist/Operations Research Analyst Intern
Business Education Compact (BEC) — 4G Technologies Lab Intern, Software Engineering Intern, Software Validation Engineer, User Experience Design Intern, Accounting Intern, Business & Properties Intern, Client BIOS Operations Intern
Camp Adventure Youth Services — Camp Adventure Youth Services Child Development Center Intern
Camp Fire USA — Evaluation & Quality Assessment Intern, Fundraising/Development Intern, Policy Outreach Intern, Summer Camp Interns, Youth Development Intern
CampusPoint — Marketing & Recruiting Intern
Cascadia Green Building Council — Administrative Intern
Catlin Gabel School — Alumni Relations Intern
CBS Interactive — Associate Software Engineering Intern, Marketing Intern
Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve — Summer Research Intern
City of Beaverton — Community Development Intern, GIS/Engineer Intern, Neighborhood Program Outreach Intern, Real Estate Specialist Intern
City of Portland — Planning/Communications Intern, Administrative Service Intern, Block by Block Intern, Financial Intern, Green Building Intern, Mayor's Office Intern
Columbia Sportswear Company — Distribution IS Intern, Human Resources Intern, Systems Administrator Intern, International Marketing Coordinator Intern, Outerwear Department Intern, Recruitment Intern, Sales Intern
Congressman Earl Blumenauer — Campaign Intern, District Office Intern
Deloitte & Touche LLP — Audit Services Intern, AERS Advisory Intern
Doernbecher Children's Hospital — Special Programs Intern
Fred Meyer, Inc./The Kroger Company — Software Developer Intern, IT Intern, Internal Audit Intern, Logistics or Operations Intern, Merchandising/Buying Intern, Project Planning Coordinator Intern, Store Manage Intern
Green Ventures Group, Inc. — Social Media/Marketing Intern, Website Content Research/Development Intern
KEEN Footwear — Graphic Design Intern, Finance Intern, Marketing Intern, Sales Operations Intern
Kiewit Construction — Civil Engineering Intern
Lattice Semiconductor Corporation — Channel Sales Analyst Intern, HR Analyst Intern
Loaves & Fishes Centers, Inc. — Grant Writing Intern, Green Team Intern
Make-a-Wish Foundation of Oregon — Wish Department Intern, Communications Intern, Event Management Intern
Mentor Graphics — Collaboration Services Intern, Marketing Programs Project Manager Intern, VB.Net Development Intern, IT Training & Tradeshow Support Intern, Web Developer Intern, Market Research Intern, Regression Environment Development Intern, Web Development Intern
Mercy Corps — Global Citizen Corps Intern, Health Intern, Recruitment Intern. Research Intern, Web & Editorial Intern
Metro — Council Office Intern, Communications Intern
Miracle Theatre Group — Arts Administration Intern, Literary Management Intern, Teatro Milagro Arts Administrative Intern, Theatrical Production Intern
NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon — Community Outreach Intern, House Party Intern, Voter to Voter Program Intern, Political Intern
National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) — Donor Relations Intern
New Avenues For Youth — Financial/Accounting Intern
Nordstrom — Sales Intern
Northwest Earth Institute — Curriculum Intern, Outreach Intern, EcoChallenge Intern
NW Natural Gas — Engineering Intern, Green Power Marketing Intern, HR Intern, Sustainability Project Coordinator Intern
Oregon Ballet Theatre — Marketing Intern, Development Intern
Oregon Bus Project — Building Blocks Intern, Development Intern, PolitiCorps Intern, Rebooting Democracy Conference Intern
Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) — Wireless Communication Intern, College Relations/HR Intern, Geologist Intern
Oregon Environmental Council — Environmental Health Education Intern, Clean Rivers Intern, Fundraising/Development Intern, Environmental Project Intern, Global Warming Intern, Health Food & Farms Intern, Product Innovation Policy Research Intern, Program Evaluation Intern, Research Intern
Oregon Historical Society — Museum Store Assistant Buyer Intern
- Oregon Jewish Museum — Gallery Intern, Program Coordinator Assistant Intern
- Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI) — Bilingual Exhibit Developer Inter, Research & Development Intern
- Planned Parenthood — Community Outreach Intern, Volunteer Program Intern, Campus Outreach Intern, Community Education Intern, Grassroots Field Intern, HR Intern, New Media Intern, Public Affairs Field Intern, Teen Council Inter, Voices for Choice Intern
- Port of Portland — HR Intern, Aviation Planning & Development Intern, Community Affairs Intern, Computer Specialist Intern, Construction Intern, Environmental Safety Intern, Environmental Air Quality Intern, Internal Audit Intern, Media Relations Intern, Noise Management Intern, Public Affairs Intern, Survey Intern
- Portland Art Museum — Assistant to Collections Manager Intern, Object Stories Intern, Accounting Intern, Curatorial Intern, Development Intern, Graphic Design Intern, Public Relations Intern, Speakers Bureau/Group Tours Intern
- Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC) — Archivist/Historian Intern, Art Exhibit Curatorial Intern, IT Assistant Internship, Membership Development Intern
- Portland Children's Museum — Art Camp Instructor, Art Studios Intern, Community Partnership Intern, Development Inter, Early Childhood Education Intern, Exhibits Intern
- Portland Energy Conservation (PECI) — Green Team Intern, IT Desktop Support Intern
- PricewaterhouseCoopers — Core Audit Intern, Discovery Intern, Assurance Intern, Tax Associate Intern
- Internship Workshops: See Advising & Career Services' calendar for current schedule www.pdx.edu/careers
- Information Interview Tips
- Making the Most of Your Internship
- Maseeh College of Engineering & Computer Science: Jobs & Internships