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Career Development Center

Students' Guide to Internships

What is an Internship?

Interns Talking

According to the National Association of Internships are a type of experiential education that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skill development under direct supervision in a professional setting. An integral component that distinguishes it from other types of work is one or more forms of structured and deliberate reflection contained within learning agendas or objectives.

Internships are highly encouraged for all Fresno State students.  They are an excellent way to confirm your career direction and gain the experience and skills employers want in new employees. 


  • Practical experience in a field of interest.  That experience that will build your resume.
  • A “test-drive” of your future career.
  • An opportunity to connect your coursework to your career field and, as a result, you may get better grades.
  • Possible college credit by enrolling in an internship course.
  • Enhancement of your skills in communication, teamwork, problem-solving and leadership.
  • Self confidence in tackling the “work world” and a decrease in feeling the "Imposter Syndrome".
  • Network contacts who can help you connect to new opportunities.
  • A mentor in your future career field.
  • More than a just a “foot in the door” toward a career position.
    • Employers made full-time offers to 64.8% of their interns.
  • Higher starting pay in first career position when compared to students who don’t participate in internships.
    And, a possible paycheck during the internship.

  1. Ask yourself questions:
    • Where do I want to intern?
    • How much time can I commit?  Internships can be full-time during the summer and part-time during the fall and spring semesters.  During the fall and spring semester, internships average between a total of 120 to 160 hours for the entire semester.
    • What skills do I want to learn?
    • How far am I willing to go (location/distance)?
    • Do I want to get paid, receive credit, or both?  Unpaid internships MUST be completed for academic credit.

  2. Write a resume and get it critiqued.  Stop by the Career Cafe, in the Career Develoment Center, in Thomas 103 between 9 am and 3 pm during the fall and spring semesters, and between 8 am and 2 pm during the summer.  You can also schedule an appointment with your Career Liaison by calling 559.278.2381.

    Also, check out resources for developing your resume, by clicking the button below.
    Resume Resources

  3. Research opportunities, companies, and organizations of interest.  For more information about job search strategy click the button below.
    Internship and Job Search Strategy

  4. Practice interviewing.  Make an appointment with your Career Liaison for a mock interview by calling 559.278.2381.

    Also, check out resources for preparing for an interview by clicking the button below.
    Interview Preparation

Before Your Internship

  • Set goals before entering the internship.
    • What do you want to learn?
    • Skills and experiences

During the Internship

  • Review your goals with your supervisor.
    • Are they attainable?  If so how will you attain them?
  • Assess your goals during the internship.
    • Ask for regular feedback on your progress to meeting your goals.
  • Ask questions and ask for feedback.
  • Participate in all intern and company activities you are invited to.
  • Share your ideas.
  • If you finish your work, ask for more.
  • If you make a mistake, acknowledge it and find a way to fix it.
  • Document your successes.  Write them down and, if appropriate, take pictures.
  • Look at your internship as a 3-month interview.
  • Dress for success.
  • Be professional at all times.
  • Adjust your social schedule to get a good night’s sleep.
  • Network.
  • Take advantage of learning about others careers and how the got to where they are through "career conversations".
  • Connect with Fresno State Alumni.

Before the Internship Ends

  • Update your resume with your new experience.
  • Ask if your supervisor or other co-workers would be willing to be a positive reference for you.
  • Ask for letters of recommendation.
  • Develop Your Career Portfolio.
    • Ask if you can use completed work.

Both paid and unpaid internship can qualify for academic credit.  Unpaid internships MUST be done for academic credt.

Generally speaking, internships that will be approved for credit at Fresno State are a minimum of 150 hours (50 hours per unit) in length during the course of the semester, however, that number varies based each academic program. To be considered for academic credit, the internship must provide:

  • A progressive and meaningful learning experience with a project or daily operations related to the student’s field of study. (Work must not be more than 20% clerical in nature).
  • A mentor and/or supervisor, who will oversee the student's work, meet with them weekly to discuss progress and complete an evaluation of the student’s performance upon completion of the internship.
    • That mentor/supervisor should have a minimum of 5 years of experience specific to the work the intern will be doing.
  • A workspace and other resources needed to complete the internship in a professional manner.

Additionally, internship sites offering unpaid internships will be required to sign an Experiential Learning Agreement between the internship site and the university. The Experiential Learning Agreement is valid for 5 years and applies to any student from any academic program at Fresno State who is pursuing an internship for academic credit. 

For all internships sites, both paid and unpaid, a Learning Site Risk Assessment must be on file with the University and a Learning Plan Agreement will need to be signed by the internship site supervisor, the student and the faculty member teaching the internship course.

You must enroll in the appropriate course BEFORE counting your internship hours.

To enroll in an internship course, please contact the appropriate faculty member in your academic department.  Don't know who that is?  Contact the Department Office for your major.

Your internship course professor may give you a link to complete the forms required of all internship for academic credit.  These forms include:

  • Internship Learning Plan Agreement that is signed by you as the student, your internship site supervisor and your internship course professor.
  • Emergency Contact Form.

Completing Required Forms

If your faculty member is using Adobe Sign to process your internship forms the follwing steps will be completed.

Step 1: Students will initiate the required internship course forms by visiting a link provided by their professor. They will enter their first and last name and their Fresno State email address and the first and last name and email address of their internship site supervisor.  Then they will click the "Begin Signing" button.  Specific fields will be highlighted by a red box in the forms for the student to complete during this first step.  Don't worry if certain fields are not fillable.  They will be completed later in the process. Once the student has entered information into those required fields, they will click "Finish".

Step 2:  The required forms then will be automatically emailed to the Internship Site Supervisor.  The Internship Site Supervisor will review and sign the Internship Learning Plan Agreement and complete the Learning Site Risk Assessment if one is not already on file with the university.

Step 3:  The forms will be emailed to the University Internship Coordinator, who will enter the status of the Internship Site's Experiential Learning Agreement on the Learning Plan Agreement.  The University Internship Coordinator reviews and comments on the Learning Site Risk Assessment completed by the Internship Site Supervisor.

Step 4: The Fresno State EHS/Risk Manager will be sent the forms and reviews the Learning Site Risk Assessment and approves or declines the site as an approved site for internship courses.

Step 5:  The student receives the forms via email again with the subject line "Required Forms - (Name of Course) - Signature Needed. The student will initial their acknowledgement of the Internship Site's Experiential Learning Agreement and sign the Learning Plan Agreement

Step 6:  The internship course faculty will receive the forms and will sign the Internship Learning Plan Agreement if approved.

Step 7:  All parties will receive a completed copy of all documents.

If you don't receive your completed form within 5 days when you initiated them, please contact the University Internship Coordinator, Claudia Ceja, at

If you have questions about receiving academic credit for an internship, please contact Claudia Ceja, University Internship Coordinator, at

Questions about internships?  Contact Claudia Ceja, University Internship Coordinator, at