An internship is practical experience acquired with the intention to inform one's decision making around career development, gain marketable skills, and network with people in a particular field.
Steps to Success
Begin early. An effective search begins well in advance of your intended internship term. It includes active self-assessment, research, and networking before you ever draft your first application.
Search Strategically section of our website.
Learn about different internship programs and other experiential opportunities. A comprehensive search includes a range of research methods: talking to people with information about fields of interest, reading up on industries and organizations, attending events where you can learn more, and searching internship listings online.
Internship Series Online Databases
Broaden your perspective. You will gain practical experience and achieve your goals through a variety of pursuits. Consider these and other activities alongside formal internships:
Campus Organizations: Duke Student Groups
Community Engagement: Duke Community Service Center | Duke Hospital
Shadowing: Duke University Alumni Network on LinkedIn
Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship at Duke
Research: DukeList | Undergraduate Research Support | PhD Research Support
Consider opportunities carefully before you accept. Revisit your self-assessment to determine whether an offer meets your goals. An acceptance is a commitment!
Ethical Conduct in Your Search
Know Yourself section of our website
Manage the logistics. Be sure to weigh cost of living and other practical factors to ensure that the experience will be feasible.
Credit: Duke Credit for Internships Policy
Funding: Career Center Internship Funding Program
Other funding opportunities at Duke
Location and Housing: Goinglobal
What To Do Before the Internship
• Determine internship preferences, i.e. industry, skills to develop, location, type of company
(large vs. small vs. start-up), financial needs, etc.
• Prepare application materials —resume/CV and cover letter, professional references, etc.
• Practice interview techniques and conduct a mock interview
• Glance at existing internship postings to clarify interests, customize application materials and start
• Let your family, friends, faculty and friends of friends know you are looking for an internship. Talk with
alumni —conduct an informational interview using Duke Alumni Directory.
• Attend the Career Center career fairs including the Career & Summer Opportunities Fair in January
• Participate in the Career Center On-Campus Recruiting Program through CareerConnections
• Meet with a career adviser
• Keep networking!
Applying to Internships
• Keep a log with employer names, date of application, date of follow-up, notes, etc.
• Remember—quality of application over quantity of applications
• Tailor your resume/CV accordingly
• Have a professional email and voicemail
• Respond promptly to all messages
• Maintain a professional online presence: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
• Network, network, network!
Resources Available Through Duke Career Center
Internship Funding Options
Internship Credit Options
• Academic Department (varies by department)
• Trinity College Academic Internship Policy
General Resources Online
• Internship Boards: internships.com, internmatch.com, internweb.com
• Local Start-Ups: downtowndurhamstartups.com, thestartupfactory.co
• Comprehensive Job Boards: indeed.com, simplyhired.com
• Social Media Resources: twitjobsearch.com, linkedin.com
Your Personal Contacts
Talk about your interests and goals with friends, family, family friends, friends’ families, professors, supervisors… be as specific as possible
Search CareerConnections and apply for internships (and jobs) posted for Duke students
Internship database that pools opportunities from selective colleges and universities nationwide
Country-specific career resources including international and domestic job/internship opportunities, professional culture guides, visa information, and more.
Internship Series Online
Collects 3,000+ internships that fit common interests of humanities and social science majors.
Employer Info Session
Meet employers, learn about specific opportunities. See calendar in CareerConnections.
Research and opportunities on campus
Examples of Experiential Programs Available through Duke
- DukeEngage – immersion service
- Duke in LA: Arts of the Moving Image – spring “study away” program with internship component
- Duke in NY – fall “study away” program with internship component [dukeinny.english.duke.edu/]
- Hart Leadership Program – research service learning
- Pathways at Duke – theological vocation exploration
- Research fellowships – e.g., Howard Hughes Research Fellows, Pratt Fellows
- Stanback Internship Program – paid internships in environment/conservation organizations
Additional Sources of Valuable Experience
- Service learning through coursework
- Volunteer work
- Active involvement and leadership in student organizations and athletics
- Study abroad
- Residential advising
- Research assistantship with faculty
- Work-study and part-time jobs
Critical Information for International Students
Unless your internship is required by your curriculum, you will have to consider whether you want to use your OPT (optional practical training) time toward an internship. Please consult the Visa Services Office to learn more and weigh your options.
Funding Your Experience
Several departments and divisions at Duke may have funds available to support students’ experiential learning. Inquire with your major or pre-major advisor, directors of undergraduate students in majors you are considering, other faculty, etc.
Some sources to consider:
- Career Center Internship Funding
- Duke Global Health Institute
- Hart Leadership Program
- Office of Undergraduate Research Support
- Office of Scholars and Fellows scholarship database
Develop a Plan B for funding: part-time jobs and living at home are both viable options. Build up your savings through a part-time job during the semester, at the beginning of the summer before your internship begins, or during the period of your internship (eg, weekends). Many employers who cannot afford to pay interns are willing to consider flexible work arrangements to enable you to have a successful internship while earning money to pay for rent, transportation, and other necessities.
Tip: If you receive financial aid, contact your financial aid officer to discuss options that may apply to you to waive your summer earnings requirement.
Note: Some employers offering unpaid internships require course credit. Find out early if this applies to you! See below for more information on obtaining course credit at Duke.
Course Credit for Internships
Duke grants credit for internships that qualify as a part of academic programs (e.g., Public Policy Studies).
When an internship is not required by a student’s academic program, direct academic credit cannot be given solely on the internship experience; however, students may seek approval from the appropriate department for an independent study course that would include learning derived from the internship. Credit is then awarded by the supervising professor and will become a part of the student’s academic record. This arrangement has been successful for many students and is supported by the academic sector of the University. Because students must seek formal support from a supervising professor, considerable advanced planning is strongly advised.