What is an internship?

An internship is a temporary position for the student or recent graduate with an emphasis on providing intentional learning objectives tied to the student’s career goals or field of study. A majority of internships take place in the summer but many are available throughout the year. Internship programs can be found at private corporations, government offices, and nonprofit organizations. They can be paid or unpaid positions and sometimes include academic credit for the student.

Why do I need an internship?

  • An internship is the best way to gain real world experience in a career field of your interest.
  • With an internship, you can determine if a career field is a good fit for you. You’ll learn things about the industry and job functions that that cannot be taught.
  • Some internships lead to a full-time position within the same organization.
  • An internship looks amazing on a résume and will give you material to reference during an interview for a full-time position.

When should I get an internship?

  • It’s never too early to do an internship!
  • Internships aren’t just during the summer. Plenty of them are during the school year and you can check out all internship listings in Handshake. 
  • For an undergraduate student, the summer after your junior year is a crucial time and you should have an internship lined up for this period.
  • Ideally, try to have two internships before you graduate.

How do I get started?

Before you start your search, create a list of your most important criteria for an internship. Talk with your career consultant who can help you determine a strategy for your internship search. Consider:

Pay, Location, and Work Culture

  • Pay: Do you need to be paid for your internship or can you take an unpaid position? If taking an unpaid internship is possible, you will find more potential opportunities.
  • Location: Where do you want to work? Should you go back to your hometown and live with your family? Can you live in a different city if you find inexpensive housing? If you are interested in interning in Atlanta during the summer, Mercer offers you the opportunity to live on the Mercer Atlanta campus. Contact Julie Cannon,, for more details. 
  • Organization: What kind of culture are you looking for? Will you receive much attention and guidance from your supervisor? Will there be an opportunity to develop a relationship with a mentor?


  • Research the timing of internships typical for your field of interest. Ex. many government internship deadlines are in the fall.
  • Highly competitive industries (investment banking/consulting) strongly encourage internships after sophomore/junior year for undergraduates – so plan ahead.

How do I find opportunities?

  • Handshake – this platform uses cutting edge technology to help you more easily connect with employers and source internships.
  • Networking – talking to people to gather information and advice – is the best way to find an opportunity. Most internships that students get are found through networking.
  • Informational interviewing –this step is critical and often overlooked. These are simply conversations with people –often people you already know or alumni – who work in your field of interest to gather information.
  • Using LinkedIn – a great way to find contacts that is easier than you think. Use our Networking and Social Media pages to help you make the right connections.

I’ve found an internship to apply for – now what?

  • Draft a resume and cover letter customized for the specific internship that interests you.
  • Have your resume and cover letter reviewed by uploading it to Handshake at least one week prior to when you'd like to apply if possible.
  • Schedule an appointment with your CCPD Career Consultant to help you prepare for your interview too.