Why Pursue an Internship?
Internships provide an excellent opportunity for students to integrate classroom learning, theory, and experiential practice in a professional setting. Participating in an internship, School of Communication students can gain valuable experience by exploring their career interests and build their resume. Internships provide a structured opportunity to connect with professionals in the field of communication, including those in film, television, theatre management, sound, health, data science, business, law, advocacy, and more. Internships also empower students to connect with professionals and increase industry knowledge that will further their career development. In a competitive post-college job market, the ability to demonstrate preparedness for and familiarity with an industry becomes paramount. Internships can be a pipeline to that industry of your choosing.
Finding an Internship
Students who are considering internships are encouraged to meet with an EPICS Career Coach or Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA) Career Advisor Laura Meyers to discuss how an internship might help them to explore their professional interests and further their career goals. NCA is Northwestern’s university-wide career services office; EPICS is the specialized career services team for the School of Communication. Both NCA and EPICS offices work together to help students with a wide range of career goals and interests. It’s important to note that you are free to pursue internships that may fall outside the traditional scope of your major; in fact, these opportunities can often make for well-rounded, multidimensional professionals.
Students can schedule appointments with either office in Handshake, Northwestern University’s career management system. All NCA and EPICS events, appointments, and job postings are on Handshake. Students can apply to an internship listed in Handshake, which includes opportunities that employers have shared specifically with the Northwestern community. Students may also seek out their own internship via sites like such as Indeed, Internships.com, and LinkedIn. Handshake is also the portal through which interested students apply for one of the three School of Communication internship courses.
Additional Career Search Tips and Resources:
- Northwestern Career Advancement offers a very practical assessment of how to identify job and internship opportunities.
- For tips on how to create a successful internship, make an appointment with EPICS.
School of Communication majors or minors in good academic standing are eligible to enroll in School of Communication EPICS Internship Courses.
Internship Course Options
School of Communication students can earn a maximum of four (4) units of academic credit for their internship experience by enrolling in one or more internship courses offered by the School of Communication or Chicago Field Studies. Students can only earn academic credit for an internship by enrolling in an internship course during the same quarter that they work the internship. Students are eligible to earn between 1-4 units of academic credit in any one quarter based upon the number of hours they work each week:
- 8 – 15 hours/week per quarter = 1 unit
- 16 – 23 hours/week per quarter = 2 units
- 24 – 31 hours/week for one quarter = 3 units
- 32 – 40 hours/week for one quarter = 4 units
- Students working a minimum of 8 hours per week during the course of a quarter may opt to enroll in a 0- or .25-unit course.
Students can also opt to register for fewer units than they are eligible to receive. For example, students working 20 hours a week can register for 0, .25, 1 or 2 units.
Students who work internships for more than one academic quarter can enroll in an internship course and register for academic credit in each quarter that they work the internship, for a maximum of 4 units.
Students who work more than one internship during one academic quarter are eligible to register for the total combined number of hours worked per week, not to exceed 40 hours per week/4 units of academic credit. For example, students working 10 hours per week at one internship and 16 hours per week at the second internship, may register for 3 units total.
The School of Communication offers three internship courses:
This course is for School of Communication students who intern 8-40 hours per week. Students are required to submit a Handshake application which includes an offer letter and position description in order to enroll. Once enrolled, students are required to participate in a weekly seminar course with associated assignments, and complete and submit a midterm assessment and final evaluation. Students should consult their academic advisor before applying as they may be subject to course unit limits.
Of the four (4) units of academic credit that can be applied towards an SoC degree:
- One (1) unit of CMN 340 may apply toward major requirements for Communication Studies, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Performance Studies, and Radio/TV/Film. Students should consult their academic advisor regarding additional restrictions on internships, independent studies, research practica and other special course types for each major.
- Up to three (3) additional units of CMN 340 can be applied towards general electives.
- CMN 340 can be repeated until the four-unit internship credit limit has been reached.
- Students repeating CMN 340 with the same internship in consecutive quarters may be eligible to enroll in an asynchronous, online version of CMN 340. Please direct questions about this option to the course instructor.
Please visit the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Advising website for additional information on how internship units can be applied towards the BACMN or BSCMN undergraduate degrees.
This asynchronous, online course is for School of Communication students who intern 8-40 hours per week with employers. Students are required to submit a Handshake application, including an offer letter and position description, in order to enroll. Enrolled students must complete and submit a midterm assessment and final evaluation.
By selecting a 0-unit internship option, students register an internship with the School of Communication that will be officially recognized and recorded on their transcript but not subject to a per-unit tuition fee. The 0-unit internship registration process is the same as the process of registering an internship for a higher unit amount.
This option is appropriate for students who:
- Are already carrying the maximum number of units for the quarter and wish to register for an internship without incurring additional tuition charges.
- Earned the maximum number of internship units allowed by their academic department.
- Do not wish to pay tuition for internship unit, particularly during the summer.
- Have been awarded a School of Communication internship award are required to enroll in the 0-unit course.
- Have been awarded a SIGP grant, which disqualifies them from earning more than 0.25 academic units for their summer internship.
This course is for School of Communication students who intern 8-40 hours per week with employers throughout the world. Students are required to submit a Handshake application, including an offer letter and position description, in order to enroll. Enrolled students must participate in an asynchronous, online course, complete and submit a midterm assessment and final evaluation.
By selecting a 0.25-unit internship option, students register an internship with the School of Communication that will be officially recognized and recorded on their transcript while paying less tuition than a one-unit course. The 0.25-unit internship registration process is the same as the process of registering an internship for a higher unit amount.
This option is appropriate for students who:
- Do not wish to enroll in CMN 340.
- Are working for employers that require academic credit, but will not accept the 0-unit option.
- Have been awarded a School of Communication internship award and are working for an employer that will not accept the 0-unit option
- Have been awarded a SIGP grant, which disqualifies them from earning more than 0.25 units for their summer internship.
Funding Your Internship
While many internships are unpaid, the School of Communication and Northwestern University offer funding opportunities to offset the cost-of-living expenses for undergraduates during the summer. Students can apply for funding support prior to securing a summer internship. Awards are not finalized until internships have been finalized.
Academic year 2021-22 deadline for summer internships must be confirmed by May 31.
SoC Internship Award Program – SoC majors planning to participate in paid or unpaid summer internships can apply for internship grants made possible through the generosity of donors.
Summer Internship Grant Program (SIGP) – SIGP was established to support current Northwestern undergraduate students participating in unpaid summer internships that the demonstrate financial need.
Internship Course Application and Enrollment Deadlines
Internship applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but are due at least two weeks before the start of the quarter for which the student is requesting enrollment.
Academic year 2021-22 deadlines are as follows:
- Winter 2022: December 17
- Spring 2022: March 11
- Summer 2022: May 31
- Fall 2022: September 1
Students should consult their Academic Advisor to determine the appropriate course and number of units that they are eligible to enroll in. Once students have received their internship position description and offer letter from their employer, they will need to complete the course registration application in Handshake’s online registration form.
This brief video provides step-by-step instructions to guide students through the registration process: