To ensure that an experience--whether it is a traditional internship or one conducted remotely or virtually--is educational, and thus eligible to be considered a legitimate internship by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) definition, all the following criteria must be met:

  1. The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
  2. The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
  3. The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
  4. There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student's academic coursework.
  5. There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
  6. There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
  7. There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.

When applying for experiences labeled as internships, you should look to see if the experiences meet these criteria. Students complete internships when they are at various stages of their undergraduate education. There is no "perfect time" to complete an internship. Some students may do a succession of internships, whereas others may only choose to do one the summer after their junior year. 

Internship Search Strategies

Set goals and learning objectives for your internship experience:

  • Articulate your goals for participating in an internship. What do you hope to learn and accomplish? How will the internships in the career fields you are considering help you meet those goals?
  • Answer practical questions: Can you afford to do a full-time unpaid internship, or do you need to focus your search on part-time employment or paid internships? Do you have the flexibility to relocate for a summer internship, or are you restricted geographically?

Start building your network and improve your online presence:

  • Meet with a career counselor for a tutorial on how to network appropriately and begin to create a professional online presence.
  • Create a Linked In account and join the Emory Alumni Association group.
  • Review our networking tips for additional information.

Plan for the search:

  • Set aside time for the internship research and application process.
  • If you are looking into summer internships, note most deadlines traditionally fall in January through April. However, many large, competitive internship programs (including federal government internships that require security clearances) have deadlines starting as early as October.  Many students start preparing for the search in the fall, even if they do not actually apply for positions until the spring semester.
  • Make a list of career fields and specific companies or organizations that you are interested in exploring through an internship.

Develop a target list of internship opportunities:

  • Go directly to the websites of organizations of interest to you and learn about their philosophies, missions, services and target populations to get a sense of what you can offer and what you can learn. If you feel that the organization is a good fit for you, see if any internship opportunities are advertised.
  • If an organization is not currently advertising internships, contact them directly to see if any opportunities exist that are not advertised, or if they would be willing to create an position for you. If you find an organization interested in taking you on as an intern that does not have previous experience working with interns, stop by our office for advice on handling this situation.

Prepare targeted resumes and other application materials, including cover letters:

  • Resumes are almost always required for internship applications, so review our resume guide and make sure that your resume is fully updated.
  • Connect with alumni and ask for industry specific feedback on your resume.
  • Have multiple audiences read and provide feedback on your materials.
  • Take advantage of The Career Center’s critique service and have your resumes and cover letters reviewed by an advisor.  

Apply for internships:

  • Apply for many internships--particularly if you are focused on competitive programs--and spend time carefully crafting application materials that align with the internship posting.
  • Make a list of the various documents required for each internship, and check off materials as you complete them.
  • Keep track of exactly when and where you have sent completed applications.
  • Follow up with organizations that have not gotten back to you within a reasonable time frame, particularly if they are your top choices and you are starting to hear back from other organizations.

Practice interviewing:

  • Attend one of the Interviewing Workshops or read our interviewing guide.
  • Make an appointment with a Career Advisor for a mock interview.
  • Connect with alumni through the Emory Alumni Association for career field specific interview advice.

Conduct interviews and follow up with employers:

  • Write each employer with whom you interview a thank-you note. E-mail is acceptable, but if you know that decisions on offers will take a while, please consider sending a neatly handwritten thank-you note.

Evaluate and accept an offer:

  • If you receive multiple offers and are unsure how to handle them, meet with a career counselor to talk them over.
  • Feel free to ask the organizations additional questions about the internship. 
  • If you are offered a full-time unpaid internship but are constrained by financial issues, consider asking the internship site if working part-time is a possibility. Interning for 15-20 hours per week as opposed to 40 would allow you to obtain a part-time job to supplement your internship.

Internship Resources


This is The Career Center’s primary online career management system, helping students connect with employers for internship opportunities through listings and on-campus interviews.  

The University Career Action Network (UCAN)

The Career Center is a member of a consortium of colleges and universities from across the country, whose mission is to develop and maintain quality internships nationwide from a variety of top employers, enabling students to gain experience in their career choices. Access this resource by logging into your Handshake account, clicking the "Resources” feature in the main menu and searching for UCAN.

Career & Internship Fair

The Career Center hosts its annual Career & Internship Fair on campus each Fall and Spring semester. These are great opportunities to network with hiring representatives from organizations representing a diversity of industries in both for and non-profit sectors.

Career Center Programs

The Career Center sponsors or co-sponsors a number of programs for students to learn about industries, as well as network and connect with industry representatives to discuss possible experiential learning opportunities.  Examples of these events include: Networking Nights (Non-Profit, International, Green, etc.), Industry Focus Nights, and individual Employer Networking Sessions. For announcements about these events, check The Career Center’s website and/or the calendar feature within Handshake.

Career Resource Library

Career Center staff can assist you in finding relevant resources either in print or online that can be useful tools in exploring your career options and make suggestions for ways you can move from learning about careers to participating in them! A sample of the over 600 publications available include: Internship SuccessPeterson’s Guide to Internships, and Vault Top Internships.

Emory Alumni Association

Tap into the Emory network to build your own professional network, and learn about career paths, industries and organizations.  Register for the Emory Alumni Association's online alumni directory to connect with alumni who have volunteered as "Career Contacts," and join the Association's LinkedIn group and connect with alumni via other social networks, too.  The Association has chapters of engaged alumni and volunteer leaders worldwide, as well as distinctive interest groups for you to join when you graduate or connect with while in other locations for summer internships or study abroad.  Faculty, fellow students, Emory parents and University friends may also be potential contacts for you to begin to cultivate relationships.  Make sure you are connecting appropriately with alumni and others by consulting with your career adviser and making the most of Career Center resources.

Counseling / Advising

Career Center staff is ready to meet with you one-on-one to discuss your career interests and help you brainstorm strategies for gaining the experience you seek.  To schedule an appointment, call 404-727-6211 during our business hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM. 

Internet Search

The internet is a great resource for exploring a wide variety of organizations, either by accessing a unique organization’s website or utilizing other job/internship boards. There are numerous public internship websites; it can almost be overwhelming! Here are some select sites to help you get started:

  • Federal Government: The Partnership for Public Service’s Internship Directory includes information on more than 200 federal internship programs, and is searchable by agency, eligibility, location, and other factors.  
  • Non-Profit: Idealist is a nonprofit organization with an interactive site where individuals and organizations can exchange resources and ideas, locate opportunities and supporters, and take steps toward building a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives.
  • serves as the leading nexus between internships and students, higher education and employers.

Making the Most of Your Internship Experience

Before the Internship

  • Ask about the dress code at the internship site, and purchase appropriate clothing if necessary.
  • Research the internship site more thoroughly to get a better sense of its history and organizational culture.
  • Ask your supervisor what you can do to prepare for the experience.
  • Look into housing options and secure lodging. If you aren't sure where to start, contact your internship site for advice on safe and affordable housing close to their organization.
  • Research transportation options and make a plan for how you will get to work each day.

During the Internship

  • Be proactive. If you have down time, ask about new projects you can assist with or take on yourself. Don't do just what is asked of you.
  • Share your learning goals with your supervisor, so that he or she is aware of what you are hoping to get out of the experience.
  • Reflect on your internship by keeping a journal or talking regularly with family and friends about your experiences.
  • Document your work at the internship. This might entail gathering writing clips for a portfolio or saving copies of reports to which you contributed.

After the Internship

  • If an exit interview or final meeting is not a part of your internship, request one. Ask your supervisor for feedback on your performance and advice for moving forward in the profession.
  • Ask your supervisor if he or she would be willing to provide you with a recommendation in the future.
  • Stay in touch with professional contacts that you make during your internship.

Academic Credit

The Career Center is not an academic department and therefore cannot provide academic credit.

For Emory College students who must receive academic credit for their internships, please contact the Office of International and Summer Programs (OISP).

The academic internships initiative within the Office of International and Summer Programs (OISP) seeks to:

  • Connect students with meaningful academic internships that align with their liberal arts majors
  • Create structured credit-bearing opportunities to translate liberal arts skills into real world experiences
  • Prepare students for the global workforce through enhanced cross-cultural competencies

Pathways to pursue academic internships:


The United States Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides employers legal guidelines on internship compensation.  Internships with public sector organizations (i.e., non-profit organizations, government, education, etc.) are exempt from the FLSA and therefore are significantly less likely to be paid than internships in the private sector. In order for a for-profit organization to legally offer any uncompensated internship, that internship must meet the guidelines of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Specifically, the experience must be educational and of significant benefit to the intern. If you are interested in a specific unpaid internship that you feel does not meet these standards, please come into our office for assistance evaluating the experience.

Internship Housing

There are many options when searching for temporary internship housing. Here are a few things to consider:

1Search College Dorms/Apartments

Look at college/university housing. Many schools utilize their dorms and apartments as intern housing for college students interning in the general vicinity. If you're staying in Atlanta for an internship, check out Emory's Summer Intern Housing Program.

2Check Rental Listings

Check rental listings on some of the national sites, such as Zillow, Trulia or Realtor.

3Map Your Commute

Use Google Maps to ensure your temporary housing is at a convenient location to your internship site. Consider checking the route during rush hour to get a real sense of travel time.

Internship Checklist

I have…

  • Comprehension of what defines an “Internship”.
  • Acknowledged that Internships are a critical and valued part of my collegiate educational experience.
  • Evaluated the difference between Internships and other types of employment or ways to get relevant experience.
  • Explored my interests, abilities, personality traits and work values. Therefore, I’m well versed to discuss my motivation for participating in an Internship experience.
  • Researched my industry(s) of interest and understand the variety of job functions found within the field(s).
  • Talked with Professionals in the roles that I have the greatest interest in and have requested time to “Job Shadow” them to further my understanding of their roles.
  • Considered my strengths and can clearly articulate, both orally and in writing, why I view myself as an excellent candidate for both the organization and the role.
  • Written a Resume and Cover Letter, and have had it critiqued to ensure that I am representing myself to the best of my ability.
  • Conducted a practice Interview and am prepared for a group, personal, or a phone interview.
  • Identified and utilized Resources that will provide appropriate leads for the kind of internship experience I am seeking. 
  • Identified a core Network of individuals who are able to assist me with my internship search and professional development.
  • Discussed my internship search strategy with an Advisor to ensure I am doing “all the right things”.
  • Applied to opportunities as I have identified them and am in the process of following up with the Internship site host.
  • Identified a solid “plan B” should I find myself without an internship offer.