= Introduction =

What is an internship?

An Internship is a work experience characterized by intentional learning. During this experience, the student assumes a responsible role in an organization and actively reflects on what he or she is observing and learning. It is important that the student make the link between academic preparation and the world of work.

Planning is key to any internship. The student plans the internship in advance in collaboration with a faculty sponsor and a site supervisor, who also monitor and evaluate the student's work. Students who register their internships for academic credit also submit an academic project which relates the practical experience to academic theory.

Three important elements distinguish an internship from a short-term job or volunteer work: the academic background which the intern brings to the practical experience, active reflection during the internship, and the final project which demonstrates the learning accomplished as it relates to the student's academic discipline.

Since a successful internship requires an agreement on the objectives, nature of the work, and outcomes among the three parties involved - the student, the site supervisor and the faculty sponsor - it is essential that careful planning precede the direct experience: a learning contract is the best way to achieve this agreement in advance (see sample).

Internships can take place in a variety of settings, from corporations, banks, publishing houses, and marketing firms to television studios, human service agencies and research institutes. Some students receive remuneration, some do not. But all internships involve planning.

This manual is a guide for you - the students, faculty and site supervisors who are involved in internships through Muhlenberg College. It is intended to help you understand policies, roles and expectations, and to assist you in the planning process. We hope, as a result, your internship experience is a positive one.

We'll be referring to key documents throughout this manual. Some of those you will want to pay particular attention to are:

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