Get experience before graduation

Research by the National Association of Colleges and Employers has demonstrated a strong positive relationship between a student having an internship and an increased probability of that student receiving a full-time job offer before graduation.

Internships are an excellent opportunity to learn about and gain skills in a potential career field and with an organization before committing to a full-time job. Internships can be paid or unpaid. Unpaid experiences must adhere to the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The most effective internships are project-based and connected to your field of study or career interests. Other ways to get experience in your chosen career path before graduation include both short-term job shadowing experiences like an externship, and research experience.

If you are in the U.S. on a visa (any kind), you may need to obtain visa-related authorization before starting an internship of any kind, including micro-internships and shadowing. Authorization types, eligibility, procedures, and timelines vary. Detailed visa-related guidance about internships for VCU students on F-1 visas is online at GEO's website at Internships and Volunteering and Immigration Guidance for VCU Real. For more information, please email GEO Immigration Services.

The Process

It can take an average of two to five months to get hired for an internship.  That can seem like a long time when you’re used to being hired much quicker for a part-time job.

For many summer internships, you’ll want to apply in February ahead of a May or June start date.  That’s not the case for all internships and we encourage you to check out our different industry pages for more specific information related to your industry of interest.

Below is an infographic of what to expect in the hiring timeline, but remember employers have a process specific to them and it may vary.


Job and internship worksheet

Need help kick-starting your internship search? Use our job and internship search worksheet and consider scheduling an appointment with a career counselor to talk about what you wrote down.

Why should I get an internship?

  • Employers say more than having a high GPA is needed to get a job. 
  • Employers are interested in communication, problem-solving and administrative skills, which can be developed through internships.
  • Employers look for experience on a student's resume and often hire from within their own internship programs.
  • A strong letter of recommendation from an internship supervisor can tip the scale in your favor when applying for jobs.

In Spring 2023, our top 10 employers included VCU, Virginia's home for Public Media (VPM News), American Civil War Museum, Children's Museum in Richmond, Commonwealth Basketball Group, Fit4Kids Greater Richmond, WTVR-TV, CBS6, Keiter CPA, General Assembly, and Twisted Wisdom Podcast

Search tools for internships

There are numerous places where internships are posted. Here is a selection of some of the most reputable and helpful websites for your internship search.

Handshake: This comprehensive job and internship search tool posts opportunities specifically intended for VCU students/alumni.

Parker Dewey: VCU Career Services, Business Career Services and Engineering Career Services have recently partnered with Parker Dewey to begin promoting micro-internships and project-based work opportunities to all VCU students. Projects exist for all majors and can incorporate a student’s outside experience/interests learned outside of their major.

Chegg Internships: Chegg Internships is a web-based internship marketplace that is searchable by interest, geography, pay, etc.

ConnectVA: This site provides information, resources, and instant access to nonprofits, civic leaders, volunteers, and others interested in improving metro Richmond. The job finder is a great place to find local area jobs and internships focused on the nonprofit community.

GoGovernment: Go Government is a project of the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization Partnership for Public Service, which works to revitalize our federal government by inspiring a new generation to serve. Use the website to find and apply for federal government jobs.

Idealist: This searchable database of nonprofit organizations and opportunities is a great resource for Washington, D.C.-area nonprofit internships and international opportunities.

Pathways: This government website offers internships and jobs for recent graduates.

Student Opportunity Center: A database for internships, scholarships, events, publishing and volunteering opportunities, funding and more. The tool allows users to search for virtual opportunities or postings in specific localities. If you find an opportunity that interests you, you're able to favorite and apply for it.