One reason that students are interested in attending American University is that our DC location offers unparalleled opportunities for internships and other experiential learning opportunities. While that certainly is a benefit of being a student here, it is important to understand that internships are a supplement to and not a replacement for your undergraduate education.
The university requires that students complete 30 credits of academic work at AU before completing an internship for credit. This is to ensure that you have a strong start in your academics before taking on additional responsibilities.
Employers are often very interested in your research skills. The research sequence (SISU-206 and SISU-306) that you take in your sophomore year helps you to develop these skills. You will be more competitive for internships if you apply after you have completed your research courses.
The fact that you complete an internship is less important than what you learn from doing the internship. Make sure to network effectively, earn a strong reference, and stay in touch with your former employer as you approach graduation.
Internships are only one part of your overall profile. The strength of your academic performance, your involvement on campus, and your study abroad experiences also play a role in building your skills.