Summer Internship Basics

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Every year, young people from all over the world search and apply for their dream internships.

Demographics of those applying for coveted internship spots have changed over the years, with high school seniors and college freshmen and sophomores all vying for positions historically reserved for college juniors and seniors, or graduate students. With all of these new candidates in the mix, employers are rethinking recruitment strategies.

Key Takeaways

  • An internship is an opportunity for students to test the waters in a job or industry.
  • Internships provide experience, networking opportunities, and sometimes a paycheck.
  • Internships can help build your resume and set you apart when you begin your job hunt after graduation.

The Basics of a Summer Internship

Summer internships can run anywhere from eight to twelve weeks long and follow school semesters.

Depending on when the student gets out of school, a summer internship usually starts in May or June and continues through August. The most common timeframe for summer internships is to begin right after Memorial Day and run through the first week of August.

Benefits of an Internship Beyond Experience

Internship opportunities offer several benefits beyond gaining full or part-time work experience. Some internships are paid, and many provide school credit, although each school has different policies regarding internship credit.


All unpaid internships should follow the guidelines set out by the US Department of Labor in the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act). To find out more about this, visit your school’s career center.

The Purpose of Pursuing an Internship

Internships provide students with hands-on learning experience as they gain a glimpse into the real world, giving them a front-row seat to a potential career choice.

They go into the internship thinking they want to work at a specific company or in a specific industry and come out of the internship either having confirmed those thoughts or having decided to pursue something completely different.


The idea is that they get to know now if they like a job rather than when they graduate. So many people move into jobs they dislike after graduation because they didn't know any better. Internships are a good way to curb that likelihood.

Not only do students who participate in summer internships get hands-on learning experience, but they’re also building their resumes. The number one question asked at job interviews after college is "Where did you intern?" It's a good idea to have a ready answer to that question in order to stand out from the pool of other applicants.

Internships also provide networking opportunities. Most college students don't have a professional network. Internships change that. Students leave internships with a Rolodex of professional contacts who can help them gain future employment, whether by serving as a reference or by alerting them to job opportunities.


To find summer internship opportunities visit the career center, and websites such as ​,,,, and

A summer internship stands out on a student’s resume and is among one of the best things a young person can do to prepare for the real world and college graduation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When do internships start?

It depends on what semester you're looking for an internship and is often agreed upon between you and the company you're interning for. Typically internships occur in the summer, beginning right after Memorial Day, and running through the first week of August.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Chegg Internships. "How Long Do Internships Last? - Intern Program Tips."

  2. University of Maryland, Baltimore County. "What Is An Internship?"

  3. U.S. Department of Labor. "Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act."

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