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Internships and Experiential Learning

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Defining your Goals

If you’re considering a career outside of academia, there are many ways to develop professional skills and explore different career paths while at Yale. Through these activities, you can make valuable connections and gain exposure to new work environments and perspectives outside the Ivory Tower.  

Take the time to assess what you would like to accomplish through your experience. Goals may include:

  • Exploring workplaces and cultures
  • Building experience outside of research
  • Acquiring a new skill set
  • Making connections and expanding your professional network

Experiential learning opportunities can vary significantly in terms of time commitment, flexibility and hands-on involvement.  As you seek out experiences, knowing your goals can help you determine what type of experience will bring the highest return for your time.


Internships and Part-Time Positions

The Office of Career Strategy can help you prepare the materials you need for a successful internship search.  Use these resources to get started, and make an appointment with an OCS advisor through the Yale Career Link for additional help and advice at any point during the search process:

Search for Opportunities

Internships can take many forms:  part-time vs. full-time, on-campus or off-campus, summer or during the academic year.  Some students seek established, structured internship programs while other students work to create an opportunity that fits well with their goals and dissertation plan. Before you get started, make sure you review GSAS rules concerning full-time internships at the bottom of this page.

Finding the right internship can be an exciting process but also can require persistence and resilience.  Use these strategies to uncover opportunities:

FAQ: Sample of Organizations with Internships for Graduate Students

Many companies do not have a formal internship program, but still may be open to hiring an intern. With research, time and effort, you may be able to develop an opportunity tailored to your career goals.  Get started by reading the tips in these articles:

Pin: Find Internship and Part-time Opportunities at Yale!

Did you know that Yale University is an organization with an operating budget of over $3 billion and a staff size of almost 10,000?  Many graduate students find meaningful work across Yale's many functional areas right here on campus.  Check out the some of the offices offering opportunities to students:

Develop a Learning Plan

After you've connected with an individual or organization interested in considering you for an internship, it is important to clarify desired outcomes and expectations (both yours and the employer's) to ensure everyone's experience is meaningful and engaging.

One helpful tool is a Learning Plan. A Learning Plan is a document that allows you and your employer to develop and articulate goals, how you will achieve and evaluate them, and the structure of supervision. Consider specific professional skills and knowledge you are looking to gain, and the tasks/projects that will help you achieve them. You may also wish to include personal goals regarding attitudes and values (e.g. being more patient, being able to adapt quickly in changing environments). Using the right language will help when identifying goals; refer to our sample Resume Action Verbs list to start.

Remember that the Office of Career Strategy is here to assist you with all steps of this process.

Other Ways to Get Career and Professional Experience

Job Treks

One-day to 2-week short-term experiences at an employer's office, treks allow you to test a new career environment.  Often under the guidance of a Yale alum, they can be a great way to get some hands-on experience and receive mentoring.  If you are in the career exploration phase and want to sample a variety of careers, Job Treks are for you!  

Start by exploring these options, or use the Yale Career Network to reach out to alumni in your industries or companies of interest and set up your own site visit. To make the most of your experience, read this article for tips.

Short-Term Projects

Often project-based work can be a way to get career exposure and training with minimal disruption to your academic research.  Some options include:

Student Organizations

Working in a leadership or administrative position for a student organization can support your professional development and provide as much insight into career functions as a paid internship.  It can be an opportunity to develop valuable project management and communication skills and to engage in productive teamwork, all transferable skills that you can take with you to your next career.  Log onto OrgSync to find organizations that fit with your interests.

Professional Development Workshops and Classes

Many campus organizations offer skill-building workshops that are open to all students.  Sign up for their newsletters, or investigate other opportunities in your areas of interest.  For more ways to develop your transferable skill set while on campus, click here!  

Also consider online courses and resources. They can be a way to develop key skills and boost your knowledge on a particular topic on your own time.

An online subscription library that teaches the latest software tools and skills through high-quality instructional videos taught by recognized industry experts. The full range of this content is now available at no cost to all current faculty, staff, and students of the university.  Log on through the Yale portal here.

Over 2,000 online courses taught by professors at top universities around the world. Join for free!  Check out these offerings by Yale professors:

The Art of Science Communication
An online ASBMB course available for ALL scientists and STEM professionals

GSAS Regulations Regarding Full-Time Internships

During the summer months, PhD candidates can participate in full-time internships without taking a leave of absence from the Graduate School.  Students remain registered and retain all rights and responsibilities of a Yale GSAS student, including Yale health insurance. 

Summer internships do not require taking a leave of absence from the Graduate School. Students remain registered and thus retain all rights and responsibilities of a Yale GSAS student, including health insurance coverage through Yale.

Students on paid internships normally forfeit their summer funding.
The purpose of the internship program is collect data or learn techniques to be used in dissertation research, or to gain exposure for a potential field of employment. Summer internships designed to expose students to potential fields of employment will not be permitted until after a student has been admitted to candidacy.
Students are limited to two summer internships. Additional internships will require a Leave of Absence.
Fall and Spring Internships

Internships during the fall or spring semesters require a leave of absence that begins on the first day of the internship. Once on leave, students cannot return until the following semester. Unless an internship is to run for a full semester, it is best to schedule the internship so that it ends within the final week(s) of a semester. It is important to note that academic year leaves of absence result in a suspension of GSAS student privileges, such as health insurance coverage through Yale, and forfeiture of funding during the leave period.

1.  Students must complete the Yale Graduate School Request for Summer Internship and Summer Course Registration form and secure the following documents:

  • Offer letter from the internship host.
  • A statement describing the nature of the internship and work to be done, and how this experience will advance the dissertation research or promote career goals. Include the work location and contact information.
  • A copy of the employer’s intellectual rights or proprietary data agreement, in the event that the employer restricts in any way a student’s right to use or publish data produced during the internship.

2.  The student must provide the above documents to the individuals below and obtain their approval and signature:

  • The Director of Graduate Studies
  • The Dissertation Advisor
  • The Graduate School Associate Dean

3.  Students who have been approved for a summer internship must enroll in one of two summer courses, as described on Request for Summer Internship and Summer Course Registration form:

  • GSAS 901c Pre-Candidacy Applied Research Experience
  • GSAS 902c Post-Candidacy Applied Research Experience

Students who conduct internships during the academic year do not enroll in a course and instead take a leave of absence.