Program FAQs

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When is the best time to do an internship?

The answer to this question varies from student to student. Approximately 50% of our students do their internships when they have junior standing, but many sophomores and seniors also do internships. Many students attempt to find a less competitive internship as a sophomore, which helps their application for more competitive internships intended for upper-level students. If you are aiming to do an internship closely related to your major for academic credit, note that your department may require that you have at least junior standing or complete one or more prerequisite courses before applying for internship credit.

I was offered an unpaid internship and my internship site requires that I do the internship for academic credit. What do I do?

Many for-profit organizations who offer unpaid internships do require that students register for credit. If your internship is related to your academic major, you'll want to first check with your major department to see if doing the credit through them is a possibility. If your internship is unrelated to your major, or if you do not qualify for internship credit through your major department for other reasons, you should apply to enroll in LA 495 section 0011/6011, the College of the Liberal Arts internship course. You can take this course for 1 credit or three credits. Remember that you may also apply for Liberal Arts enrichment funds to help you fund a portion of your experience.

Please note that if you are registering for internship credit during the summer, you will be required to pay per credit, like you would for any other summer course. Penn State's tuition rates vary by campus, program, student level, and residency. Penn State's student tuition calculator is a helpful resource to determine your tuition rate for a particular semester.

I am interested in doing an internship, but I'm not sure if I can afford it. Aren't all internships unpaid? Should I even apply?

Approximately 40 to 50% of the internships that Liberal Arts students do are paid. Students who cannot afford not to work often focus their search on paid positions. You should realize, however, that paid positions are becoming increasingly more competitive and are sometimes not as educational as unpaid positions. We recommend applying for a mix of paid and unpaid positions. If you are offered an excellent unpaid opportunity, apply for enrichment funds. Many unpaid internships are also part-time, meaning that you can pursue such an internship and also work part-time.

I am seeking credit for my summer internship. Can this credit be placed on my fall schedule so that I can avoid paying tuition for the credit?

No. It is University policy that you must be registered for credit during the semester that you perform the internship; i.e. one cannot earn “retroactive” credit for an internship.

What is an all-inclusive internship program? Are they worth the cost?

Some third-party providers, such as Dream Careers, guarantee students internships in their field of interest, as well as housing and other perks. Some of these programs, like Live Learn Intern, offer the opportunity to take courses with other interns while you perform the internship. Not surprisingly, you will often pay a premium for these services. We recommend that students also search and apply for internships using other resources before committing to one of these programs. If you can afford such a program, have thoroughly researched it and decided that it fits with your goals, then consider it; just don't think that you must go through one of these programs to land a good internship.

All-inclusive programs offered by Penn State include the Harrisburg Semester and the Penn State Washington Program. These programs are reasonably priced and provide many of the same perks as the for-profit third-party internship providers.

I am applying for enrichment funds. What is the average award amount for an internship?

Information about the enrichment funds process and potential award amounts can be found by visiting the Enrichment Funds section of our website.

How can my department help me in my internship search?

It depends on your department. Some, such as English (Dr. Liz Jenkins) and Labor Studies & Employment Relations (Amy Dietz) have faculty internship coordinators with significant knowledge and resources. Others, such as Sociology and Criminology, maintain a list of past internships their students have pursued as well as strategies for locating internships in that particular field. Academic advisers typically have this information. You should check in with your department early on in your internship search to see what resources are available to you.

I've noticed that you have some interns blogging about their experiences on the Liberal Arts blog. How can I apply to become a blogger?

Write Casey Fenton (lasocialmedia@psu.edu) an e-mail to let him know you're interested before you leave to start your internship. Let him know what you're doing at your internship and why you believe that you would make a good blogger.


Internship Resources

Credit Enrollment/Funding

In accordance with University Faculty Senate policy 34-81, you must be registered for your internship course during the semester in which you are completing the internship. Therefore, you cannot complete an internship in the summer, for example, and register for the internship credits during the fall semester.  All LA 495 candidates must be in degree status.

For purposes of verifying full-time enrollment only, students enrolled in LA 495 courses for one or more credits are considered to be full-time students. This does not assign full-time status for purposes of student aid; you should contact a Student Aid representative to discuss how enrolling as a part-time student will affect aid status.

Credits for Liberal Arts internship courses are assessed the same tuition fee as any other undergraduate course. Consult the Office of the Bursar's tuition web site for specifics. The tuition calculator at that site is especially helpful when calculating the cost of summer internship credits.

If you are concerned about the cost of pursuing a for-credit unpaid internship, you may want to consider enrolling for only one credit. If you would like to discuss your options regarding credit, contact lanetwork@la.psu.edu.

Enrichment funds are available for students participating in internships on an application basis. Information about the enrichment funds process and potential award amounts can be found by visiting the Enrichment Funds section of our website.

Please do not submit an enrichment fund application until you have committed to the internship and received confirmation.

Insurance

Students are not covered by the University for accidents, health problems or damage to property or people that may occur during an off campus internship. You must rely on personal or family insurance to provide this liability coverage. You should understand that family "homeowners" insurance typically does not provide coverage when you are engaged primarily in the activities of a business, which is often the case during internships (whether or not you are paid for your activities).

In addition, the University is not liable for accidents or harm that may occur while students are transported to internship sites in non-University vehicles. Information on supplemental insurance available to undergraduate students is available through the Penn State Student Insurance Office.

Housing

Students participating in an internship away from campus typically are responsible for procuring their own housing. (Exceptions exist, such as when you are accepted to an all-inclusive program, like the Penn State Washington Program, that provides housing.) Many stay with families and friends; others ask their internship sites for advice regarding available housing in the area.

If you are participating in an internship in a major metropolitan area, you might consider staying in a dorm or other housing provided specifically for summer interns. The following are all potential housing options you may want to consider. Their listing here does not indicate endorsement by the Career Enrichment Network and is provided only as a service to students seeking internship housing.

New York City

Chicago

Washington DC

Harrisburg

Nationwide

If you will be away from campus for either fall or spring semester, submit a Housing and Food Service (HFS) Contract cancellation request through eLiving. Contact the Housing Assignment Office for further assistance.

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