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Washington Semester Program FAQs - Internships

When should I begin my internship search?

You can begin your internship search once you have been accepted into the Washington Semester Program. Our Internship Web has more than 6,000 internship opportunities with over 3,000 internship employers. Once you have submitted your deposit you will have access to the site as early as October for spring semesters and April for fall semesters. Many students find internships before they arrive in DC; others find their internships within the first weeks of the term. Nearly one in five of our students credit this service for finding their internship.

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How do I secure an internship?

You apply directly to organizations and agencies. During the Summer Semester, you receive the helpful guidance of an experienced placement advisor. During the Fall and Spring Semesters, workshops during your orientation give you lifelong professional development skills (resume, cover letter, interview advice, writing samples, etc.). These services are available to you once you have been admitted and submit the required deposit. You also can participate in our Internship Bazaar during the Fall and Spring semesters where a third of our students land their internships.

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Are the internships paid?

Generally, internships are not paid. Some internships offer modest pay, stipends, lunch tickets or commuter benefits, however, this varies by organization.  

All J-1 exchange visitors are required to obtain work authorization before beginning their internship, regardless of compensation. Our International Student Services team will support you through this process.

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Does American University guarantee or provide placement for internships?

American University considers the internship search process to be an important professional development opportunity—teaching you the importance of a quality resume and cover letter, interview skills, how to make decisions between multiple offers, and how to communicate your acceptance and rejection of offers. We do not guarantee you an internship or place you in one, though in recent years nearly all students have found internships by the end of the second week. Generally, you can anticipate sending more than 15 resumes to different internship opportunities before you are likely to receive a response or an offer.

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What happens if I don't have an internship arranged by the time I arrive in Washington, D.C. to participate in the program?

You are not required to begin an internship until two weeks into the semester, so you have time to search and interview following your arrival. Early in the semester, the School of Professional & Extended Studies at American University holds an internship bazaar featuring approximately 100 internship sites searching for interns like you. A third of our students report finding their internships through this event. 

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I have never had a professional job before. How should I prepare?

As part of the Washington Semester Program, you will participate in an internship class where you can ask your professor questions about your internship.

The Washington Semester Program also provides extensive professional resources including resume, cover letter, and interview guidance prior to your starting the program, and as an integral part of program orientation.

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Is there a dress code?

While the dress code for internships does vary, you should plan to wear business attire (casual and formal) more often than you will be wearing more casual clothes such as jeans and t-shirts. This dress code probably also will apply to many of the speaker visits and events that you attend with your seminar class. Check out on the AU Career Center on Pinterest for some inspiration.

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