How Long Do Internships Last?

Entering and going through your college years can be really stressful. There is a lot of talk about internships, but no one gives you a lot of information. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’re going to learn how important internships are, the different types available, and finally, we’ll answer the question: how long do internships last?

Importance of an Internship

A lot of people don’t realize how important internships really are. For a lot of people, internships will set them apart from other candidates and secure them a job they otherwise wouldn’t get. They are more than just a line on your résumé, they are a comment about who you are.

Taking on an internship shows employers that you’re serious about working in this respective industry. It shows that you have a good work ethic, you have great time management, and you are driven.

Additionally, internships give you experience that you can’t get in the classroom:

  • Personal contacts and connections in the industry
  • Jargon and know-how specific to your field
  • Real-world, hands-on experience using theories learned in the classroom
  • Intricate problem-solving, time management, professionalism

Now imagine this situation from the hiring manager’s perspective. There are two identical applications on your desk. One has 4 years of internship experience, the other does not. Who are you choosing?

Although most internships aren’t as hardcore as holding a professional position full-time at the company, hiring teams understand the importance of the skills you learn along the way.

For students, this means cashing out your free time in the name of your future career. As you’re shopping around, realize that there are different types of internships to pursue.

4 Types of Internships

Companies that offer internships are all looking for something different. The result is a range of internship types that you can choose from.

Free Internship

A lot of companies offer free, or unpaid, internships. People are pretty split about this type of internship.

On the one hand, you get invaluable experience working for a potentially huge and powerful company. On the other, you are not getting paid to work during hours you can spend with family, friends, or doing classwork.

If being offered by an industry leader, a free internship can be invaluable.

Internship for Course Credits

Similar to the free internship, you might find yourself in a role working for course credits. The company will not pay you, but they oftentimes sponsor the university or pay them to sustain the course.

An added bonus to this type is you will make progress towards your degree doing something that greatly benefits your future.

The Do-Nothing Internships

As the name might suggest, there are a lot of companies that are just looking to fill seats. They will bring in college students and require them to do nothing.

The company has no expectations for their interns, and sometimes they don’t even have actual projects for them to work on. This is more common for industry leaders who have an expendable budget.

These companies benefit in a few ways from doing this.

They can use their internship numbers as a way to market their company. For example, they could brag about the number of interns they had working for them the previous year.

Companies can also use this time to get to know the interns and groom them for the professional world. This slow introduction to a full-time job might help those who want a slow transition.

This type of internship is also common for companies who want to bring in employee’s relatives that are in college to promote a better relationship in the office.

Internship to Career

Another major type of internship is one that turns into a career. Employers will bring in serious workers who want to work at that company. They will teach their interns how to work under pressure, introduce them to the industry, and start strengthening their skills.

It gives a company a chance to get to know you and your work ethic. If you fail to perform, it’s easy to cut an intern loose without too much paperwork or severance pay.

For companies, it gives them an opportunity to teach you the right way to work, in accordance with their mission and rules. These interns are blank slates that can be trained and optimized for a specific company.

How Long do Internships Last?

Now it’s time to answer the important question. How long do internships last? It all depends on the company, the intern, and the work. Most opportunities will list the length of the internship role, and you’ll have to choose those with ideal timing.

If you break rules or laws in the workplace, your internship is sure to end quickly. If you take the work seriously and apply yourself every day, your term will be longer.

We personally know people who were interns for specific companies for their four years of college, and then were hired full time by those companies. Equally, we know interns who were let go after just a few weeks for sleeping on the job.

  • For course credit internships, the term is almost always one or two semesters. In some cases, a course credit internship can turn into a paid internship afterward that turns into a career.
  • Free internships are a roll of the dice. The term varies depending on the seriousness of the company and the amount of work they need. The length can range from a summer semester up to your full four years.
  • Do-nothing internships last as long as the company wants to boast about their internship program. Their budget is usually not the thing that stops the internship.
  • With internships that turn into careers, the goal is for them to last as long as possible.

Internships are typically structured around class schedules. Major companies will offer summer internship terms at their companies. Some also include spring, fall, and winter internship terms with more flexible schedules.


Now you know more about internships and how long they last. Remember to apply yourself so your application process for a job is easier. Internships last as long as you’re useful – anywhere from a day, to your full college experience of four years.