Finding an Internship | University of Portland

Finding an Internship

It’s important to use a combination of approaches in your search to find a position that’s valuable to you and to not miss out on great opportunities to explore areas of interest. It’s not enough to simply apply online; in fact, the way most people search for positions online is the exact opposite of how most employers prefer to recruit. Internship and job boards are a good resource, but connections are what will really help you tap into the “hidden job market” and land the 80% of jobs that are not posted.

There are many effective ways to find an internship―there is no one magic strategy.

Questions to Consider

When developing your internship search plan, consider some of the following questions: What do I want to learn? What skills do I want to develop? What industries or job functions would I like to explore? What subject areas would I like to learn more about? What types of professionals would I like to shadow or have as a mentor? Where do I want to live? Do I have friends or family in other cities where I could stay if I want to broaden my geographical search? Could I complete an international internship? What can I afford (paid or unpaid internship)? Answering these questions will help guide your search towards meaningful, professional experiences that match your skills, interests and values.

Begin Your Search Early

It may take several months to find the right internship for you. Many internship programs have deadlines as early as fall for the following summer. It's never too soon to start looking! Some positions might require specific coursework or year in school. Don't let that discourage you. Take note of those requirements and make yourself more competitive by participating in student organizations, community service or on-campus employment, and apply next year!

Internships as Exploration

Remember, internships are designed to be temporary, typically an 8–12 week “test run” where interns get to explore one organization to see if it aligns with your values and interests. If you thrive in your internship? Great! If you do not enjoy the position or organization–better to know now and explore other opportunities in the future. Using experience as a tool for exploration can help you refine, confirm or redirect your strengths, values, interests and personality fit. 

You will develop transferable skills regardless of the specific tasks and projects of your internship. Think about an internship as one exploratory step in your career journey, and not a lifelong commitment to this organization. A curiosity-driven mindset will take you far in your internship, regardless of what industry or discipline you are in.  

Your position does not technically have to have “intern” in the title to be a quality learning experience related to your field of study. Many part-time jobs and/or volunteer positions will help you gain experience and develop relevant skills and competencies.

Actions You Can Take

  • Review current internship opportunities posted on Handshake.
  • Check your UP email for the monthly Internship Newsletter outlining a variety of internship opportunities, resources and career events.
  • Attend one of the many programs including Industry Nights, career fairs, and career crawls to meet employers and learn more about internship opportunities. For more information, check events in Engage, on Handshake and visit the Career Education Center's Instagram.
  • Tell people that you are looking for an internship. Talk with relatives, friends, neighbors, faculty, family connections and past employers. You could even propose your own project related to your field of study that might help their organization.
  • Use your best judgement and contact us if you have any questions or concerns about the legitimacy of a posted position or employer that you find online or on Handshake.
The Career Center is here to support you with your internship search, including guidance in how to find an internship, updating or refining your resume and cover letter, and hosting many programs on campus to connect you with employers. To schedule an appointment with a staff member, schedule online using Handshake or call us at 503.943.7201.


Maximize your Internship!