What Is An Internship?

An internship is an intensive, responsible work experience related to your previous academic studies, your professional and educational goals.  Internships can be credit bearing or non-credit bearing.  Non-credit bearing internships are not registered with the College and therefore do not need to meet criteria beyond those outlined by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Credit bearing internships need to meet the following criteria:

1)       Be a unique experience to you.  This should not be a place where you have worked regularly in the past unless you are able to demonstrate that the work you will be doing is significantly different or advancing on work from the past.

a.        Examples: 

                                                               i.      You will be working in a different department or taking on responsibilities not typically covered in your job.

                                                              ii.      You are completing an internship with the same department for 2 semesters, with the work of the second semester building on the first.

2)       Be a primarily educational experience.  While an internship can provide students with valuable practical experience to help with a future career, a credit-bearing internship should be primarily focused on the education of the intern.  Work assignments should be primarily instructive and support the learning objectives set out at the start of the internship.

3)       Meet the criteria of your academic program.  Credit bearing internships are sponsored by a faculty member.  Your faculty sponsor must approve the internship as meeting the criteria of lower level or advanced level work in their discipline. 

4)       Be supervised by a knowledgeable professional in the field.  Since this is an educational experience, it is important that your supervisor has knowledge and expertise in the field of work, has experience with supervision and is able to fairly evaluate student work in the field.   All supervisors are subject to approval by the Director of Career Services and the Faculty Sponsor.

a.        Immediate family members may not directly supervise student interns.

The Director of Career Services and the Faculty Sponsor both reserve the right to request additional information about the site, work to be completed and site supervisor in order to determine the eligibility of the internship for credit prior to approval.

When Can I Do An Internship?

You are eligible for an internship when you have achieved sophomore standing or have completed two semesters at Wilmington College.  You must be in good academic standing at the time the internship is approved and during the semester in which it is completed.  Students in good standing with an approved internship who fall from good standing for the term in which the internship is to be completed will be dropped from the internship. 

How Many Credits Can I Earn?

Between one and six credits can be earned through an internship.  You may include up to 12 internship credits in your Wilmington degree program.  Most internships last for one semester.  You may work for shorter periods of time, such as school vacations.  Internships are part-time during the academic year, and may be full or part-time during breaks.  At least 75% of the work must be completed during the semester in which the credit is given.  For each academic credit earned you must work 42 contact hours.  For example the contact hours required are as follows:

  • 1credit = 42 contact hours
  • 2 credits = 84 contact hours
  • 3 credits = 126 contact hours
  • 4 credits = 168 contact hours
  • 5 credits = 210 contact hours
  • 6 credits = 252 contact hours


Contact hours consist of time actually worked at the site.   Contact hours are not commuting time, lunch, breaks, background checks required prior to the internship, etc.  They may, however, include assignments completed for the internship off site.  A good rule of thumb to determine if time can be counted is that if the internship was to be paid, contact hours would be the time for which the intern would be compensated.

Completing hours before the end of term

Students and site supervisors may work together to arrange a mutually agreed upon schedule.  It is acceptable for students to work for only part of the term providing that the registered hours are completed.  Students who choose to complete their internship in less than a semester will need to meet with Director of Career Services to arrange for an alternate paper and evaluation schedule.  Students will need to complete a minimum of 3 papers for any internship regardless of the number of weeks worked. Additionally, all students must work a minimum of 3 weeks, even if they exceed the hours required of the internship.  It is not acceptable for students to end their internship early without prior approval, even if they complete their hours ahead of schedule.

What Does An Internship Cost?

Internships completed as part of a full-time course load during the fall and spring semesters are included in the regular tuition.  Summer internships are charged at the reduced per credit hour of $125/credit.  This is equivalent to ¼ of the normal summer school per credit rate, essentially allowing you to earn 4 credits for the cost of 1summer school credit.

Students who wish to apply financial aid towards a summer internship need to meet with Financial Aid to discuss their options and how this could impact their overall financial aid disbursement.  Internship cost is for credit only and does not cover any travel, lodging, food or other expenses which may be incurred as a result of completing an internship.

Can I Add or Drop an Internship?

The add/drop dates for credit bearing internships are the same as for other credit bearing courses at Wilmington.  If you wish to add after the final add day, you must complete an appeal request. Your registration is subject to approval of the appeal committee and is not guaranteed.  Since the internship is an agreement between the College, student and cooperating site, it is important that the contract is approved by all parties before the student begins.   As such, if a student begins work at an internship after the start of term but prior to final approval, no more than 10% of the student’s hours completed prior to approval will be counted towards the internship requirement.

Adding an internship late:

Internships take time to plan and prepare, so you should know well in advance of the registration deadline that you are planning to complete an internship for the term.  All students should attend an internship orientation well in advance of needing an internship and be engaged in the process of securing a site throughout the term prior to the term in which the internship will occur.

In the case of extenuating circumstances, students may appeal to add an internship after the add date.  In order to apply for an appeal, students need to have secured an internship, completed a contract which has been approved by the faculty sponsor, faculty advisor and site supervisor, complete and submit an appeal form (obtained from the Academic Affairs office) which is to be submitted to Academic Affairs.  Appeal requests are not guaranteed and will only be considered if the student can demonstrate that the late add is due to a circumstance beyond the student’s control.  The last day to submit an appeal to add an internship is 2 weeks after the add date for the term.


Examples of situations which may be considered as extenuating circumstances:

  •   Student has secured an internship on time, but is waiting on a required background check before it can be finalized.
  •   Late change in a student’s academic requirements (such as a new major/minor) which now requires the student complete an internship which was otherwise not expected.
  • · A unique internship opportunity becomes available after the deadline and the student is able to complete the internship hours before the end of the semester.

Examples of situations which are within the student’s control and are not extenuating circumstances:

  • Student is unaware of academic requirements of program or what is necessary to register an internship.
  •   Student begins the process of trying to secure an internship late and is unable to make arrangements prior to the deadline.
  •  Student fails to complete contract or other required documentation in a timely manner.

A note on dropping:

Unlike dropping a class, when you drop an internship this can impact the site negatively.  Sites have often dedicated staff to working with you and have created a work-flow based on your participation in a project.  Before dropping a site, try to solve any issues around why you might be dropping first, particularly if it is related to your performance or work expectations. 

If you do drop a site, you must first speak with your site supervisor to give notice and discuss your need to drop, then contact the Career Services Office.  After you have spoken with the Director of Career Services, pick up a drop-form.   Once your drop-form is received, your site supervisor will be contacted by the Career Services Office to provide feedback on your performance prior to your departure, including how you handled your departure.  For more guidance on terminating your internship, see the Career Services Office.

Changing a site without dropping the internship

It is expected that you will complete your internship at the site which has been approved on your contract.  If, due to extenuating circumstances, you need to change your site you must contact the Director of Career Services prior to leaving your original site and starting at a new site.  Changes in sites are not automatically approved.  Only extreme situations, such as a personal/family emergency or closing of the site for example, will be considered for a change of site request. 

If the Director of Career Services approves your request to change site, your faculty sponsor and former site supervisor will be notified.  You will need to complete a new contract which must be approved by your faculty sponsor and your faculty advisor, as well as your new site supervisor.  An evaluation of your performance at the previous site for the time you worked there will be required and will be considered as part of your overall grade.  As with all internships, no more than 10% of the hours worked prior to receiving final approval on your contract will be counted towards your requirement. 

How Do I Arrange An Internship?

Arranging an internship is as valuable a learning experience as completing the work on site. If you are considering an internship, here are the necessary steps:

1)       Goal clarification.  Meet with your faculty advisor or the Director of Career Services to discuss your goals for the internship.   (If you want to receive credit, you will need to have a conversation with your faculty advisor).  During this conversation, you should clarify:

a.        What competencies do you hope to gain through this experience?  Consider both technical skills as well as transferrable skills such as competencies in writing, speaking, analyzing information and problem solving.

b.       What do you hope to learn about yourself through this experience?

c.        What questions about the profession do you hope to explore through this experience? 

2)       Prepare to apply.  Start researching organizations you would like to work for.  Visit the Career Services Office for help identifying internship opportunities and to learn how to research places and approach them about the possibility of working with them.   Prepare a resume and a cover letter for each position; come to a workshop or set up an appointment in Career Services if you need help getting started. Have your resume and cover letter reviewed in the Career Services Office. 

WANT CREDIT? All students wishing to receive credit for an internship must attend an Internship Orientation prior to receiving the contract.

3)       Apply.  Send your resume and cover letter to sites regarding open positions.  If you do not hear back within a week, make a phone call to follow up ensuring that your materials were received and to inquire about their timeline. 

Securing an internship can take several months so you should begin this process at least four months before you wish to intern.  Some internships are very competitive so multiple sites should be targeted to ensure securing one.    You are not required to accept any offer you receive, just as they are not required to hire everyone who applies, so don’t worry about applying to many sites.  

4)       Interview.  The employer will usually have an interviewing process which you must undergo.  It is important to prepare for the interview.  Research the organization’s website, talk to others who may have worked there before, come to an interviewing workshop or make an appointment for a mock interview to help you prepare. 

5)       Accepting/Declining. If you are offered a position, you can either accept or decline.  Before you accept, be sure to clarify the details of the internship first.  Let the site know whether or not you are applying for credit, clarify the dates, hours and duties.  Clear communication in the beginning is key to avoiding problems before they occur.  If you decide not to accept the position, follow up with the site and politely let them know that you have decided to go with another option this term.  Once you accept an internship, you should contact the other sites you applied to and let them know that you will be withdrawing your application.

a.        Credit-bearing internships. 

                                                               i.      Internship Orientation: You will need to attend an internship orientation prior to obtaining access to any of the forms you’ll need to register.  This orientation will go over the expectations of internships and the processes involved.

                                                              ii.      Internship contract: Once you have completed an internship orientation, you will be given access to the Internships and Service section of WHOLElink.  This is where you will find a blank contract to submit.  You are responsible for completing all parts of the contract on this form.  In order to do this, you will need to have a conversation with your faculty sponsor, site supervisor and faculty advisor prior to completing the contract.  All contracts must be submitted online.  Please review the requirements of an acceptable site supervisor listed in these guidelines above.

                                                            iii.      Secure a faculty sponsor.   Your faculty sponsor must be a full time faculty member in the department in which you are obtaining the credit. 

                                                            iv.      Signature page.  Once you have completed the entire contract, submit it electronically and print a copy and have it signed by your faculty sponsor and faculty advisor (as well as yourself).  Please drop off, fax or scan and email a copy of this signed contract to the Career Services Office. Site supervisors will be able to approve through an online process once faculty approval is received.

                                                              v.      Clearance and registration.  You will receive an email from the Director of Career Services indicating that you are cleared to register your internship for the term selected.  Once you are cleared, you must register for the M0 section of the appropriate internship and the correct number of internship credits via the online registration. 

b.       Non-credit internships

                                                               i.      While a contract is not required by the College, it is a good idea to follow up with an email clarifying what you discussed about the internship including the start date and time, duties, any compensation, dress code, location and contact information.  Don’t forget to obtain a phone number, especially if you have primarily been emailing, since that will be the best way to reach your supervisor if there is a problem early on.

How Will My Internship Be Evaluated? (Credit bearing internships only)

Reflection Papers:

Throughout the internship you are required to complete regular reflection papers.  These papers will be evaluated by the Director of Career Services and your Faculty Sponsor at mid-term, and at the end of your experience.  The purpose of the papers is to promote reflection throughout your experience.  Much of what is learned through an internship experience happens in reflecting on what happened, not necessarily during the work itself.  The papers are less about keeping track of what you did, and more about ensuring that you take time during your busy week to reflect on your experience.

A series of prompts are provided to facilitate your reflection.  Choose a prompt that best applies to your work during the time you are reflecting upon.  Remember, reflection is different from reporting; it includes your thoughts, analysis and feelings about your experiences rather than the specifics of what you actually did.

Reflection papers are to be 1000 words (about 2 pages single spaced) and are due every other week.  This is intended to not only give the Director of Career Services and your Faculty Sponsor a sense of how things are going, but also allows you to receive feedback on your papers.  

Reflection papers should be written at a college level using standard written English, just as you would write an essay or longer paper for a class.  They are not shared with your site supervisor.  They should be submitted electronically on Blackboard for both the Director of Career Services and your Faculty Sponsor for review.

Final Presentation:

Upon the completion of your internship, you will need to present a 10 minute professional presentation discussing your internship experience.  This presentation will be open to the public. 

Your presentation should touch on:

  • History of the company/organization, their mission and how they work towards this
  • Overview of your responsibilities
  • Explanation of the classroom knowledge that has been applied
  • Example of one project which demonstrates your learning - this could address skills learned, something you learned about this type of work or something you learned about yourself.
  • How this organization contributes to the greater community (local – global, you can choose).

The presentation should include both a visual and speaking component.  Specific guidelines regarding the presentation will be provided once you register.

Final Paper:

Students who will be unavailable to complete a final presentation due to extenuating circumstances (such as graduating immediately after the internship) may apply to complete a final paper in lieu of a presentation.  This should be 10-12 pages, cover the topics included in the presentation and/or content as set by your faculty sponsor prior to the start of internship.   This must be submitted electronically to the Director of Career Services and your Faculty Sponsor by the due date agreed upon.  Your paper will be graded on content, grammar, sentence structure and organization.  

 Your faculty sponsor will evaluate the content and quality of your presentation or paper. 


Your site supervisor also submits midterm and final evaluation forms, indicating the quality of your work.  These forms are emailed to your site supervisor when you submit your contract to the Career Services Office and must be completed electronically and returned. 


Internships do not receive letter grades, but are graded on a Pass/No Pass scale.  If all evaluation materials are approved as meeting expectations, students will receive a Pass.

Post-internship debriefing

After the completion of your internship, you are encouraged to meet with the Director of Career Services to “debrief” your experience and consider how you might use what you learned.  You will also receive an evaluation form to complete where you can rate your site.  This feedback will only be shared with the Career Services Office, faculty and other students (if you give permission) to provide us a sense of the strengths and challenges of any given site.  This is not automatically shared with your site.

You will also have the opportunity to provide feedback which will be shared with the site, as many organizations seek ways to improve their internship program.

Students who completed non-credit bearing internships are welcome to complete evaluation forms for sites and set up an appointment to “debrief”.