What is experiential learning?
An umbrella term to include hands-on learning outside of the classroom that enhances your academic experience. The experience can vary in length but is designed to be a specific period of time and have learning outcomes.
Why is experiential learning important?
These opportunities help you to clarify your career goals, gain valuable experience and skills to become a stronger candidate when applying for full-time jobs and graduate school, and expand your network.
It is recommended to complete at least one internship before you graduate in order to prepare for the professional world. Internships can be part-time or full-time, during the semester or summer, and provide knowledge and hands-on experience in a particular career field or organization.
In addition, each fall and spring semester, our Career Fair hosts over 200 employers offering jobs and internships for Mason students. Smaller industry-specific fairs are also held throughout the year. Be sure to check the employer participant lists for each fair.
Looking outside of the area? Try Career Shift. This tool searches every career site and job board!
Speak with your academic advisor and check the course catalog to see if you can get academic credit for your internship experience within your major.
You should pursue internship opportunities as early as freshman year! Over 1,000 positions posted in HireMason each year are only for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors.
Look for paid opportunities. 58% of positions posted in Handshake are paid and the average national hourly wage for bachelor's degree-level interns is $18.06. Do a local internship during the fall or spring when your housing is already covered. Also, speak with an academic advisor about receiving credit toward your degree or major requirements for doing an internship which may free up time to continue your paid job while interning.
The Unpaid Internship Scholarship is open to all students (undergraduate and graduate) who have secured an unpaid internship and meet the criteria listed below. Students may receive up to $1000 during the fall and spring semesters, and up to $4000 during the summer term.
Preference is given to students completing their first internship/career experience in their chosen field of study and/or demonstration of financial hardship incurred by taking on an unpaid internship experience. This scholarship is considered financial aid and receipt of an award may have an effect on your existing financial aid package. Awardees must provide proof they have secured an unpaid internship before any monies will be awarded to your student account. Additional details will be provided to selected applicants.
- Minimum 2.0 GPA
- Minimum of 30 university-level credits completed prior to the internship (inclusive of transfer and AP/IB credits)
- Currently enrolled, degree-seeking student
How to apply
University Career Services receives applications through Handshake (Position #1830600) during separate application cycles for each academic term the scholarship is available (fall, spring and summer).
The application cycle for each term is as follows:
- Fall Internships: August 15 to September 15
- Spring Internships: December 30 to January 30
- Summer Internships: January 30 to February 30
- Current Resume
- Essay: 250 words on what the applicant hopes to gain from this internship experience as it relates to their academic or career goals
- Letter of Recommendation (academic or professional)
- Detailed budget of the costs associated with internship participation; this may include: (transportation, wardrobe, materials, tuition, child/dependent care, lost wages from work time missed from paid employment for the internship or other costs).
Prioritize completing an internship over other activities for at least one semester or summer. Internships can be part-time or full-time. Don't forget to consult with an academic advisor about receiving credit for an internship.
Instead of just applying to advertised internships, proactively contact organizations about doing an internship with them as they may be more willing to accommodate your class or work schedule if you are essentially volunteering a few hours of your time to assist them with a project. Job shadowing or attending a site visit through the Take a Patriot to Work program are other options.
Experiential Learning Opportunities
Receive transcript recognition for a paid co-op, internship, Pathways position, or federal volunteer internship which is not for academic course credit. Certain requirements apply.
Spend a day with a professional in a job or company that interests you. Some organizations offer a formal externship program varying in length, usually one to three days. You can also connect with someone in the company to set up a job shadow on your own or participate in a site visit through the Employer Site Visit Program.
There are hundreds of positions for students on campus. Use Handshake to find and apply to them and begin building your resume!
Community-based learning includes volunteer service, community based research, and any other avenues of applying course-related skills to assist local (and sometimes global) service organizations. You can also receive course credit for community based learning.
Solidify your academic and career interests by gaining research experience alongside faculty members. Research opportunities are particularly recommended if you are considering graduate school.
Semester or summer-long study abroad experiences provide the unique opportunity for cultural immersion and language acquisition during an extended stay in a foreign country.