SBA Internship Guide

Student Guide to Graduate Internships in:

  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Information Systems


Undergraduate Internships in:

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Information Systems
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Project and Supply Chain Management

Purpose of This Guide

The Internship Guide has been prepared to help the School of Business Administration student at Penn State Harrisburg to understand: (1) what an internship is, (2) the benefits an internship offers, (3) how an internship can be acquired, and (4) the responsibilities of the student in fulfilling an internship. If you have any questions regarding the internship process after reading this guide, please contact your undergraduate Program Coordinator or, in the case of a graduate student, the Graduate Director.

What is an Internship?

An internship is a structured work experience conducted by an organization in cooperation with the School of Business Administration at Penn State Harrisburg. It is a learning experience that encompasses a set of specified tasks related to the student's major field of study and requires the student to apply knowledge learned in an academic environment to the practical problems of the world of work. A student can earn three academic credits for the successful completion of the internship. Internships may be completed within Fall, Spring, or Summer academic terms. All internships require both organizational and faculty sponsors who oversee the student's internship experience. The organizational sponsor oversees the intern's work experience and is responsible for evaluating his/her work performance. The faculty sponsor evaluates the intern's academic performance and authorizes the granting of academic credit upon completion of the internship.

An internship is not an ordinary work experience. Internship credit will not be given for work that is a part of the student's regular employment. To qualify for academic credit, a student must be enrolled in an organization's formal internship program or be accepted by an organization as an intern in a structured training program. All internships must be pre-approved by the undergraduate student's Program Coordinator or, in the case of a graduate student, the Graduate Director.

Benefits of Internships

Participation in an internship can benefit a student in many ways. Since internships require the application of knowledge gained in the classroom to practical problems, the intern has the opportunity to enrich his/her understanding of business principles in a way that is not available within the traditional curriculum. A professional work experience within the student's major also helps him/her to evaluate the selection of a major and can provide insight into the type of industry or organization in which the student may wish to work upon graduation. Internships facilitate the development of a network of professional contacts prior to graduation and can enhance the student's self-confidence by providing an opportunity to practice business skills in a real world context. Finally, internships can provide extra income for college and personal expenses while gaining academic credits for the experience.

Qualifications for an Internship

To participate in an internship, a School of Business Administration student must meet the following qualifications:

If an undergraduate:

  • Be formally enrolled as a student in the School of Business Administration at Penn State Harrisburg;
  • have a cumulative and major GPA of 3.0 or above;
  • Be at least a second semester junior;
  • Have completed at least six credits in the major;
  • Have completed all business core courses with the exception of BA 364Y and BA 462 or have program approval; and
  • Meet any additional requirements of the major program.

If an MBA/MSIS student:

  • Be formally enrolled as a student in the School of Business Administration at Penn State Harrisburg;
  • Have completed the business core requirements; and
  • Have the permission of the Graduate Program Director.

Finding an Internship

Internships may be acquired through the School of Business Administration or by the student. Many companies request interns directly from the School of Business Administration. If their request is approved, an internship position announcement is sent, via Penn State email, to students enrolled in School of Business Administration Majors. If a position meets the student's requirements, he/she should get in touch with the organization's contact person listed on the announcement. It is the student's responsibility to apply to the organization for the internship.

Students may also acquire their own internship through sources such as personal contacts, organizational announcements, and referrals by faculty members or the Career Services Offices at Penn State Harrisburg. All internship positions identified by these means must be approved prior to the student's registration for course credit. Students who wish to participate in an internship not identified through the School of Business Administration must have the organization complete an Internship Position Announcement (attached) which must be approved by the undergraduate student's Program Coordinator or, in the case of a graduate student, the Graduate Director.

It is strongly recommended that all students seeking an internship have an up-to-date resume available for review by the internship representative of the sponsoring organization. A resume should contain the following information:

  1. complete name, address and contact information
  2. current semester
  3. expected graduation date
  4. academic major
  5. education history
  6. current GPA
  7. an academic profile that lists courses completed that are most relevant to your career objectives
  8. a list of all relevant work experience, including employer, dates worked and job title
  9. as well as a list of your campus activities and achievements.

Students are encouraged to use the resources of the Career Services Office at Penn State Harrisburg.  Resources available include career opportunities, the Nittany Lion Career Network (NLCN), Job/Internship Fair information, strategies to prepare for employment interviews, and assistance with cover letters and resumes.

Applying for an Internship

Students should follow these steps in applying for an internship:

  • Identify a suitable internship opportunity either through the School of Business Administration or your own means.

  • If the sponsoring organization has not completed and forwarded an “Internship Position Announcement” to the appropriate Program Coordinator or to the Graduate Director within the School of Business Administration, have the organization do so.  Ensure that the internship position is approved by your Program Coordinator or Graduate Director.

  • Once the internship is approved, follow all steps defined by the sponsoring organization to apply for the internship.  You should have an updated copy of your resume readily available for review by the organizational sponsor of the internship.

  • If you are selected for the internship position, complete a “Proposal for Internship” form (attached) and schedule an appointment with your Program Coordinator if you are an undergraduate student or the Graduate Director if you are a graduate student.  The Program Coordinator or Graduate Director must approve your internship for academic credit.  Bring both the “Proposal for Internship” and “Internship Position Announcement” forms to the meeting.  You should be prepared to discuss the following items at your meeting:  name and address of the sponsoring organization, goals of the internship, internship responsibilities, rate of compensation, hours per week to be worked, and the name and title of the individual within the organization who will act as your sponsor.

  • Undergraduate students register for the internship course in accordance with the following guidelines.  If you are registering for an internship within your major, use one of the following course numbers:  ACCTG 495, FIN 495, MIS 495, MGMT 495 or MKTG 495.  The credits earned through the internship may only be used to satisfy 3.0 credits of 400-level business support.

  • Graduate students register for either BUS 595 or INFSY 595 depending on the nature of the internship.

Academic Requirements

In order to gain academic credit for the internship experience, the following requirements must be met:

  • The student must register and pay tuition for the internship course during the normal pre-registration period for the term in which the internship is to be completed.
  • All internship activities required by the sponsoring organization must be completed satisfactorily.  The sponsoring organization will complete two evaluations of the student-intern’s performance.  These will be considered in the assignment of the course grade.
  • Undergraduate student-interns must maintain a weekly log of all work-related activities performed as part of the internship.  Logs must be submitted to the faculty internship sponsor at the end of the internship.
  • A term paper relating the student-intern’s work experience to the theories and practices of the profession is required.  In the case of an undergraduate internship, the term paper should provide a comprehensive description of the work performed; it should explain the work activities and apply relevant management theories to analyze or critique those activities.  The paper should also describe what the student-intern learned during the experience and report any insights regarding the relationship between theory and practice gained during the internship.  The graduate internship paper should include a research component on a topic related to the position held.  Research topics for graduate papers must be approved by the Graduate Director.  The term paper is expected to be completed in a standard academic format and must be turned into the academic sponsor at the end of the internship.
  • The final grade for the internship will be determined by the academic sponsor and will include consideration of:
    1. work activities,
    2. weekly logs (undergraduate students),
    3. performance evaluations by organizational sponsor,
    4. and the term paper.

Compensation, Hours and Conditions of Work

Compensation, hours and conditions of work should be mutually agreed upon by the student-intern and the sponsoring organization. The following guidelines should apply:

  • The sponsoring organization may not consider student-interns to be full-time employees during the term of the internship.  Benefits such as workmen’s compensation, health and medical insurance, unemployment insurance and social security payments may not be provided to the student-intern.  It is the responsibility of the student to discuss these issues with the internship representative of the sponsoring organization prior to starting the internship and, when necessary, to obtain any desired insurance at their own expense.  Penn State Harrisburg provides no insurance coverage for internship positions and assumes no liability for activities performed as a part of the internship.
  • All relevant federal, state and local laws relating to wages, hours and conditions of work are assumed to apply to internship positions. 
  • The student-intern should receive compensation comparable to others with equivalent education and experience involved in the same or similar work.  Although students may accept unpaid internship positions, it is highly desirable that the student-interns be paid.