What is an internship or practicum?  

Your required internship or practicum will give you short-term work experience in a professional setting. Both internships and practicums offer great opportunities to explore your chosen profession and help you make good career choices. If you manage your time well, you’ll be able to pick and choose a mix of internships and practicums to give you diverse experiences.

While either will help you gain valuable insight into your chosen career field, there are some clear differences between the two, as the chart below indicates.

Internships

Duration: Typically a semester or longer

Number: Students usually complete no more than two while attending college

Experience: Meaningful, often long-term projects, with assigned responsibilities and deadlines

Benefits: Some paid, some unpaid

Educational Benefits: Usually college credit; academic advisor will interface with workplace supervisor

Career Benefits: Contacts, networking, possibility of leading into long-term employment

Approach: Professionalism and commitment

Practicums

Duration: Usually part-time work during a semester

Number: Students usually complete one while attending college

Experience: Generally, job-shadowing; real-life preview of a career

Benefits: Unpaid

Educational Benefits: Usually college credit; academic advisor will interface with workplace supervisor

Career Benefits: Contacts, networking, possibility of leading to internship

Approach: Professionalism and commitment

--Comparison information courtesy of externships.com

The University Career Center at JMU can let you know more about internships and practicums, and help you find either.  Their Internship Resources page is especially useful.

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