Experiential Learning

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.

Scholarship for Unpaid Internships

The Scholarship for Unpaid Internships program provides financial support to students who would not be able to participate in an internship experience in their chosen field without it. University Career Services strongly encourages all employers to provide paid internships; however, this is not possible or realistic in many fields of interest to our students.

Preference is given to students seeking their FIRST internship/career experience in their chosen field of interest and/or demonstration of financial hardship incurred by taking on an unpaid internship experience. Students may receive up to $1000 during the fall and spring semesters and up to $3000 during the summer term.

The Unpaid Internship Scholarship is open to all students (undergraduate and graduate) pursuing an unpaid internship in an upcoming term and that meet the criteria listed below.

Minimum Requirements

Minimum 2.0 GPA

Currently enrolled, degree-seeking student

How to apply

University Career Services receives applications through Handshake during separate application cycles for each academic term the scholarship is available (fall, spring, and summer). Students do not need to have secured an internship at the time of application for the scholarship.

The application cycles for the 2019 - 20 academic year are as follows:

Fall 2020 Internships:  July 1 - August 1, 2020

Spring 2021 Internships: November 1 - December 1, 2020

Summer 2021 Internships:  March 1 - April 1, 2021

Application Materials

Application questions, including:

  1. What type of internship are you seeking and why?
  2. Will this be your first internship in your preferred field?
  3. Why is participating in an internship important to your career goals at this time?
  4. This scholarship is intended to support individuals who would not be able to participate in an unpaid internship without receiving additional monetary support. Explain in detail how receiving this scholarship would make it possible for you to participate in an unpaid internship.

Current Resume (should be up to date)

Recent Letter of Recommendation (academic or professional)

Applicants will be notified of the selection committee's decision approximately 30 days after the close of the application cycle.

Notes: Students are responsible for securing their own unpaid internship and completing the process to receive academic credit for the internship experience (optional). 

This scholarship is considered financial aid and receipt of an award may have an effect on your existing financial aid package. Awardees will be required to provide proof they have secured an unpaid internship before any monies will be disbursed. Funds will be applied to awardees’ Mason student account at the beginning of the term when the student will be completing the internship and must be applied to any outstanding balance on the account before being disbursed directly to the student. Additional details will be provided to selected applicants.

Where do I find an internship?

To see a wide variety of internship postings, visit Handshake. To find resources by industry, review the Industry Resources and select the industry resource that matches your interests. 

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!

How do I get credit for my internship?

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.

When Should I do an internship?

You should pursue internship opportunities as early as freshman year! Over 1,000 positions posted in Handshake each year are only for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. 

What if I can't afford to intern?

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.

What if I don't have time to intern?

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 Employer Site Visits program are other options. 

Experiential Learning Opportunities

Co-op and Federal 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.

Job Shadows/Externships

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.

Campus Employment

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 (Service Learning)

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.

Study Abroad / International Experiences

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.

Academic Internship Council

Global Experiences

Going Global 


Cultural Vistas

United Planet 

Dream Careers: Internship Programs

Monster: International/Global

Passport Careers: account and user information available on Career Resources 


Gain valuable leadership experience on campus through student organizations or student government. The Office of Student Involvement and the LEAD Office are great places to get plugged in. Use GetConnected to find opportunities for involvement and to organize your co-curricular activities.

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.