The 5 Questions I Asked At Least 15 Times Before Getting a Credit Internship

Welcome to Part 3 of my 5-part obligation to post about Cornell academic credit internships!

If you’re a Cornell student (or prospective student) thinking about taking on an academic credit internship, then let me be the first to tell you that there are some questions you will need to ask at least a dozen times to your program’s coordinator. To save you that time, here are some of the answers I got from Cornell representatives during my application to the ILR Academic Credit Internship Program:

  1. Can you guarantee me on-campus housing when I get back? Sort of. Once you secure an internship position through one of Cornell’s academic internship programs, the program’s coordinators will direct you to Cornell’s housing department. There, you will receive specific instructions on how to cancel your housing contract for the semester you will be participating in your internship. Concurrently, you will receive instructions on how to apply for housing through Cornell’s housing portal for the following semester, when you will be returning. Regardless of whether you will be returning in the Spring or Fall semester, you will be able to participate in the housing lottery. However, beyond that point, securing on-campus housing becomes a gamble which you take on alone. Cornell University can guarantee you a spot in the housing lottery, but it is still a lottery. Given poor availability or bad luck, you might not be able to live in a building you like, to secure a room size (single, double, triple, etc.) you prefer, or to secure a room you can afford. Still, the housing department will reassure you that most Cornell students never have a problem finding housing through Cornell’s lottery. So rest easy. Know that you will most likely get a room…just not necessarily the room you would prefer.
  2. Is this going to affect my graduation? Probably not. Participating in an academic credit internship can only prevent your graduation in two scenarios. The first scenario is if, by taking a credit internship, it prevents you from completing the credit requirements outlined by your college. However, this scenario is unlikely because most credit internship programs require that you have completed all the required courses for your degree and have a certain number of credit hours already under your belt before you can participate in an internship. It doesn’t hurt to check again, though. I thoroughly recommend it. The second scenario is if you are already failing, or are close to failing, and you fail the seminar or other academic portions associated with your internship. Internship semesters can still affect your GPA, so students on the brink of academic failure shouldn’t rely on an academic credit semesters to be their “easy semester” in college. Once again, however, most programs have GPA requirements which would all but eliminate this possibility. So, 9 times out of 10, if you’re in a Cornell academic internship program, then there is nothing for you to fear regarding graduation. 
  3. When will I know if I’ve been chosen for an internship? Only God knows. My recommendation is to be patient, and expect an answer later rather than sooner. The window for internship offers ranges widely according to industry, companies, and internship type. For example, in my case, some of my classmates secured offers in late April and May when they applied in March. However, other students (including myself) applied in March as well and received their offers in late June, July, and early August. There are many factors which can contribute to the delay. A slow application process and high demand for the position will slow a company’s ability to choose its desired interns. Some industries advertise internship position earlier in the year and take longer to make their decisions. Other industries wait until the last minute but have perfect speedy applicant turnover.  It’s not ideal for you, the applicant, but expect that you might not hear if you even have an internship until several months after you apply. In all cases, checking in with your program coordinator can give you insight into how much longer you will have to wait.
  4. Is there anything else I’m supposed to be doing right now? At some point, you will finish your long to-do list and find yourself waiting for other actors to finish their ends of the deal. Don’t be restless. Check in periodically with your program coordinator to stay on the ball for each phase of the application process, but don’t annoy them with daily emails asking what to do next. Instead, demonstrate your conscientiousness by developing a list of tasks which need to be accomplished and assign them due dates. Completing this list early on in the process and having a program coordinator look over and verify that list can give you some peace of mind at later dates.
  5. How much money do I have to pay this semester? The tuition cost of an academic credit internship semester is, in almost all cases, the same as the tuition cost for spending a semester on-campus. The differential will lie in what you pay for housing, meals, transportation, and other academic expenses. While you won’t need to pay for on-campus or off-campus housing in Ithaca, the location of your internship may demand that you pay for housing in the city closest to your work site. Similarly, you will save on Cornell’s meal plans, but groceries are a new demon you will soon battle. Transportation costs are a new cost which surprises a lot of students, because on campus you can walk almost anywhere. However, depending on your housing and internship location during your internship semester, you may need to burn a couple hundred dollars on public transportation alone. These other costs depend on your particularly situation, and so only you can calculate it exactly. Instead of asking your  program coordinator for this estimate, I suggest you ask them for advice on where to find cheaper housing, transportation solutions, and the like. They might know of some things past students who have interned at your location have done to offset these costs. This advice is what you should be looking for; the math is on you.

And there you have it! I hope this post can be of some use to you. At the very least, I might save some internship program coordinator somewhere on Cornell campus a hour or two of answering these questions for a student 10 or 12 times. In any case, keep a look out for my last list post on academic credit internships, which will be coming out soon! In the meantime, check out some of my other posts below:

So, you want a credit internship…
How to Secure a Credit Internship (Resumes, Interviews, and Other Nuisances)
The 5 Answers I Had To Give At Least 15 Times Before Getting a Credit Internship (Coming Soon!)
The Don’t-Forget List for After You’ve Gotten a Credit Internship (Coming Soon!)

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