Getting Started

A well-designed internship gives you the opportunity to explore career possibilities, explore personal growth, develop career-related contacts, and apply theory you learned in the classroom in “real world” situations. Also, you will find that an internship usually will motivate you and “re-energize” you back in the classroom.

Additionally, graduate schools and employers are increasingly looking for internship experiences as they make admission and hiring decisions.

What is the difference between internships, practica, and volunteering?
At Westmont, these terms can be defined as follows:

  • Internship - An internship is taken for credit as an elective.
  • Practica - A practicum is taken for credit in your major.
  • Volunteering - Volunteer positions are taken for experience only and not for credit. Some organizations do not allow volunteers for legal reasons.

How do I Begin?

Make a choice about receiving credit. If you decide to receive credit, then you will need to register for the class or tutorial where you will have the opportunity to engage with other students taking internships, and where you can deepen your experience by integrating your academic work with your internship work. You will most often accomplish this through selected reading and writing assignments. In a small group setting you will have the advantage of processing your internship experience with a Westmont faculty member. Finally, you will have the opportunity to create a show case portfolio of work samples and documentation of your personal and professional growth during your internship.

For elective credit plan to register for APP 190 or APP-190SS. For practicum credit in your major, plan to register for (the name of your major) followed by 190, for example, BIO-190, SOC-190,EB-190, etc.). You will need the approval for your practicum from the supervising faculty member in your major. Faculty Internship Coordinators may change from year to year so check with your academic advisor about the point person in your major department. Bear in mind that departments have varying requirements for receiving credit. You may not assume that any practicum you obtain will be approved for credit in your major. Check with your Practicum Faculty representative first!

How Many Credits will I receive and How Many Hours will I work?

The following chart will allow you to figure out the minimum hours that you will need to complete each week at your internship site. Note the biology and psychology departments have different hourly requirements. Please see your advisor with any questions.

Units Hours Per Week
1 3 hours per week
2 6 hours per week
3 9 hours per week
4 12 hours per week

You may not exceed 12 units of internship/practicum credit while at Westmont.

After deciding upon credit or no-credit, take some time to reflect upon the kind of internship that you wish to pursue. Make a list of the ideal work settings you would like to test out. Add to your list the skills you would like to develop or improve. After completing this self-assessment, search the database and make a list of your top choices of available internships. Then, make an appointment with The Director of Internships and Practica. During this appointment you can get help with narrowing down or expanding your options or get help with developing new sites not listed on the database.

It is wise to interview with several organizations so that you can compare and contrast various work settings and practice your self-presentation skills. Be prepared for the upcoming semester with an updated resume. Consult the Resume Help section of this webpage or visit the Office of Career and Life Planning on the second floor of the Library.

Will I be paid?

Some internships and practica pay an hourly wage, however most do not. A growing number of organizations will offer a stipend, which could be a sum of money for the semester’s work, or could come in the form of benefits such as free tickets, food or other “perks”. Some majors do not allow students to receive payment for practica so be sure to check in with your practicum adviser.