Overview for Faculty and Advisers
Internships are vitally important for today’s college students. Nine out of ten employers indicate that they are more likely to hire a recent college graduate if they have had a successful internship; more than 40 percent of new college hires come directly from an employer’s internship pool.
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Academic internships are academic courses. They are taken for academic credit; they differ fundamentally from “work” or employment in this instructional aspect. Students put together a Learning Network, which includes an instructor from the college and a workplace supervisor from the internship host site.
Your primary responsibility as an internship instructor is to regularly pose questions or otherwise offer feedback to help students understand the internship experience through the lens of their academic studies.
- Academic internships are a three-way partnership among the college, the employer or host site, and the student. Student-interns work on meaningful, professional projects of significance to the host site.
- Assigned tasks and responsibilities should enable students to draw upon, apply, and expand the knowledge/skills they are developing in their coursework.
- Interns work a minimum of 40 hours on-site per academic credit and typically work a minimum of eight weeks.
- Academic credit is granted not for hours at the work site nor for work per se, but rather for successful completion of assignments that showcase discipline-based knowledge and/or skills connected to the experience.
- Assist the student in preparing his or her Internship Proposal.
- Clearly articulate academic expectations.
- Communicate regularly (weekly) with the student-intern throughout the semester.
- Carefully review student and host supervisor evaluations as they are sent to you. Follow up with your student(s) as indicated.
- Evaluate the student’s performance.
The purpose of the Internship Proposal is to help a student frame the internship in disciplinary or academic terms. It is designed to spark and guide a conversation with you about the academic focus of a proposed internship.
Questions to consider when reviewing an internship proposal
- What connections with the student's degree program are evident? What discipline-based knowledge or questions, theories, skills or perspectives could inform the roles and responsibilities of the internship?
- Can the proposal be customized to better fit the interests, academic background, and/or experience of the student?
- How might concepts or theories that ground your discipline be explored or tested during this field experience? How might research methods or creative techniques be used?
- How will a student’s observations, interactions, etc., be recorded and organized to shed light on these theories, concepts, and/or problems?
- How will you and the student gauge whether she or he is making progress toward achieving the objectives?