Center for Career Development – University of Tennessee

University of Tennessee – Center for Career Development

Experiential Learning

UT and Experience Learning

Learn more about The University of Tennessee’s EXPERIENCE LEARNING initiative which will “transform our culture to give students more opportunities to be involved in civic engagement, to solve complex real-world problems, and to contribute to the welfare of their communities as part of their regular course work”.

Experiential learning is a crucial component of a college education and allows students to enhance their personal and professional development through direct experience and reflection. These experiences can help students to clarify career goals, gain valuable experience and skills and develop a professional network to positively impact job and graduate school outcomes.

Types of Experiential Learning

There is a variety of options for students to gain experience to support their academic and career ambitions. Below are options and resources offered at UT and the Center for Career Development:

Internships & Co-ops

An internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths. They also give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent and therefore can often have direct impact on students full-time job offers.

Externships & Job Shadowing

Externships are similar to internships in that they provide a professional setting for students to gain valuable insight into a specific career field. An externship is a short term job shadowing experience (usually ranging from one day to one week).

Part-Time Jobs, Work-Study and Seasonal Student Employment

Part-time employment can be an excellent way for students to gain valuable transferable skills and professional development while earning extra money. Students may elect to work part-time jobs that provide relevant experience for their major or desired career path (e.g., a future teacher may work in an after school program; a future buyer may work in a retail store; a future computer scientist may work for UT Office of Information Technology). However, even unrelated part-time work experience can provide skills and qualities employers seek.


A fellowship is a short-term opportunity, lasting anywhere from a few months to several years. Fellowships focus on professional development, and are sponsored by a specific association or organization looking to advance leadership in their field. They can be found in a variety of fields including graduate study, research, community development, training and field exploration.

Community Service (Volunteering, Service Corps and Post-graduate Service)

Giving your time to an organization or a cause is a great way to learn more about the cause, prove your commitment and build a networks and identify new opportunities. Various opportunities to serve are available in the UT community and globally.

Student Life & Campus Leadership

Various services exist on UT’s campus to engage as a leader. Whether you are interested in welcoming students to campus, impacting their daily living environment, influencing their academic success, coordinating leadership and service programs, teaching them about health and wellness, engaging in critical issues of the times, or simply entertaining, these opportunities may offer something for everyone to develop leadership and many other transferable skills employers seek.

Undergraduate Research

The University of Tennessee is classified by the Carnegie Commission as a research university with “very high research activity.” As a result, students have access to cutting-edge technologies and well-funded laboratories and outreach opportunities for research experience.

Programs Abroad

International experiences provide the unique opportunity to for cultural immersion and language acquisition during an extended stay in a foreign country; varying programs often include other forms of experiential learning such as study, internship, service, teaching and others. These types of programs are most often tied to a university and an academic department but some can also be completed independently.

Clinical Work

Clinical experiences provide hands-on experiences of a predetermined duration directly tied to an area of study, such as nursing students participating in a hospital-based experience or child development and teacher education students participating in day care and classroom settings.

Field Work/Practicum

Field work, completed in collaboration with (and often as a requirement of) an academic program, enables students to examine the way the theories and the practical experiences of a particular discipline interact. It provides opportunities for observation and participation which are not ordinarily available in class work. Field work, similar to internships, may be completed full-time or in conjunction with academic studies during the semester. Since field work is credit-based students maintain student status automatically and tuition and fees apply. Students must arrange field work with the designating academic department.

Student Teaching

Student teaching provides candidates with an opportunity to put into practice the knowledge and skills they have been developing in the preparation program. Student teaching typically involves an on-site experience in a partner school and opportunities for formal and informal candidate reflection on their teaching experience.


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The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System