An internship is defined as a learning experience in which traditional classroom learning is applied through practical hands-on job experiences. The internship represents an opportunity to help students develop personal, professional, and academic goals. Internship experiences link the classroom to the real world of work, therefore solidifying academic competencies.
It also gives students the opportunity to explore various possibilities while still in school. For the participating business, agency, or institution, there is the added benefit of using highly motivated and, in most cases, unpaid labor, with fresh approaches and different outlooks.
Internships are designed to relate to a student's field of study. The internship assignment is intended to augment classroom work by enabling the student to observe actual events in a job context, and to participate in the process of applying theoretical principles to real-life situations.
Although students are generally paying tuition for the privilege of working as unpaid interns, the program can yield important pay-offs for the participants. For instance, the internship can give a student the chance to test the strength of a particular career interest and to establish contacts with individuals in a given field of study. During an internship, a student is free to make mistakes, a luxury not often available in the real world of work.
What is the purpose of an internship?
The primary purpose is to introduce and familiarize students to self-directed learning and competently develop interpersonal and management skills. Through a variety of works settings, students will receive practical training and experience. Internship opportunities present an invaluable learning experience that will be most beneficial and rewarding in terms of shaping students' career path.
Internships may be full-time or part time. Employment for less than 20 hours per week is considered part-time; employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time. You can only do full-time during school breaks, summer, or with special permission.
There is a time limit on CPT and OPT. Discuss your specific case with International Student & Scholar Services. The rules are complex.
General guidelines (certainly not complete):
You can ask for an internship:
- During your vacations and other times when school is not in session if you are currently enrolled in classes and intend to enroll for the next term.
- When school is in session, provided that you do not work more than 20 hours per week while school is in session.
- After the completion of course requirements for your B.A. degree (excluding a thesis).
- After completion of the course of study (graduation). You must complete all OPT within 14 months following the completion of study, unless you are STEM eligible, as the rules permit an additional seventeen months of OPT.
You must have received support and recommendations from both your academic advisor and from International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS). Also be aware that not every student is eligible for paid internship experience. Communication with ISSS is crucial, so please keep in touch.
Students must inform in a timely manner both ISSS and their academic advisor of their intent to pursue an OPT internship. We recommend planning two semesters in advance, because the USCIS paperwork can take months. By being well prepared in advance, both the student and ISSS will experience less anxiety. You need USCIS authorization before you can start OPT.
- Attend the Internship 101 Workshop through the
career development center; internship packet will be distributed at
that time. HINT: Take early!
- Complete a resume and consult with the Director of Career Development for a critique.
- Determine your internship site. This varies depending on your major.
- NOTE: Students intending to use their
present job as their internship must submit two job descriptions with
their application. One outlining their present position
responsibilities, and the second outlining the new learning objectives
and responsibilities that will take place during the internship.
- Consult with your Faculty advisor about
additional work assignments and the learning agreement (will be
explained in the Internship 101 Workshop).
- Meet with your internship site supervisor to
discuss your outlined learning objectives and internship
responsibilities and to obtain his/her signature.
- You must obtain several signatures, so start early!
- Signatures include the following:
student's faculty advisor, employer, academic advisor, academic dean,
director of career development, international student advisor (if on an
F-1 visa) and lastly, the registrar.
- Register for internship.
- Attend the Internship Orientation at the start of the semester in which you enrolled for your internship.
How to Get Started
Attend an Internship 101 workshop. Dates for the workshop can be found on the CDC Events Calendar
Complete a resume. If you need assistance, stop by Lenfest 103 and check out the self-serve files or go to the resume web pages (quick Link this). For individual help, see the Director of Career Development.
Talk to you faculty advisor about goals you have for yourself during your internship and the goals your advisor has for you.
Start to research possible sites. Contact the Director of Career Development if you need help.
View the Ebulletins to see what new internship opportunities have come into the CDC.
Complete you paperwork and turn it in to the registrar.
Curricular Practical Training must be an integral part of established curriculum. You must have a specific and definite job location and job offer in order to apply for CPT. This may be a full-time or part-time internship, work experience or practicum. Because you will earn academic credit, you must pay Wilson tuition during your practical experience.
Students who work fulltime for 12 months or more during CPT will not be eligible for OPT.
What do I need for CPT?
If you feel that you are eligible for OPT and would benefit from practical training in your field of study, request a recommendation from a Wilson College DSO (Designated School Official). A Wilson College DSO has to recommend you for OPT in SEVIS and provide you with an updated I-20 showing the recommendation. You will submit the updated I-20 with the application for employment authorization. You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT. However, the approval time for OPT may be months, and you must pay a fee to Department of Homeland Security when applying for authorization.
What do I need for OPT?
You must supply the following items in order to apply for OPT:
- A completed Wilson College OPT recommendation form available on the Wilson web site
- Copies of all your I-20's
- A completed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, available online
- Photocopy of your I-94 (front and back)
- Photocopies of EAD (front and back), if you have prior EAD(s)
- Photocopies of passport (photo page, renewal page, amendments pages)
- Photocopy of visa page
- Two new passport photos with your I-94 number and your name written lightly on the back in pencil
- $340 as a check or money order made payable to U. S. Department of Homeland Security (check this amount because it may change)
Bring your completed packet to the International Student & Scholar Services office for review. A recommendation will be made in SEVIS and a new I-20 issued. You may then mail the application packet for processing. You may not participate in OPT until you receive authorization from USCIS. Again, this process can take months!
There are two types of training available to international students:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Students who have been enrolled at Wilson on a full-time basis for at least nine (9) consecutive months are eligible to apply for CPT and OPT. Please be aware that CPT/OPT is a privilege and not a right!
- CPT is required or an integral part of your curriculum in order to graduate.
- OPT is recommended by your major but not required.
All internships must be related to your major and in your field. For example, an equestrian studies student cannot work at a bank even if it is a great job offer at the bank.