= Making The Most Of Your Internship Experience =
Student Guidelines

What is an internship?

An internship is an experience in which you learn by taking on a responsible role as a worker in an organization and by observing and reflecting on what happens while you are there. Internships are many things to many people. They can range from seeing a Congressional office in action to working with teen-age runaways, working in a hospital, or even behind the scenes at a television station. Since you select your internship, the possibilities are endless.

Why should I do an internship? What can it do for me?

    Test the waters. An internship is a way to try out a possible career in order to pinpoint your area of interest.

    Gain employment experience. It is a chance to develop and extend your skills. Students with internship experience are more competitive in the job hunt. It has become a "must" in today's job market to demonstrate interest and experience in your chosen field.

    Establish contacts. Through an internship, you will have the opportunity to make valuable career contacts, network with professionals in your field, and possibly develop a mentor relationship.

    Apply your knowledge. An internship experience can add more meaning to academic study by giving you the chance to integrate theories learned in class with "real life" situations.

    Take charge of your education. An internship is a way for you to design your own curriculum. You decide what you would like to learn, how you intend to learn it, and how you will synthesize your experience with your academic knowledge.

    Financial rewards. Although most internships are unpaid, some employers may offer some financial compensation for your work. Internships need not be paid in order to be of value.

How do I find an internship?

Most academic and administrative departments will sponsor internships. There are several ways you can go about arranging one.

Some academic departments (including Communication; English; Accounting, Business & Economics; and Political Science) have internship coordinators who will assist you in arranging an internship. They may be able to give you a list of organizations who sponsor interns and assist you in the selection process. Contact them directly.

If you are interested in arranging an internship with a department other than those listed above, here are some ideas:

Contact the academic/administrative department in which you are interested. They may be able to give you some suggestions about possible internships and let you know who might be willing to serve as faculty sponsor. Many departments keep listings of internship opportunities.

Contact the Career Center.
They have:

  • a career resource library which contains internship listings and national directories of opportunities.
  • hundreds of internship postings available to you online through your Career Connections account.
  • lists of alumni who are interested in sponsoring internships or advising you in their fields.
  • workshops on how to identify what you can do and how to arrange an internship that suits your interests and skills.
  • individual advising.
  • referrals to faculty who might sponsor you as an intern.
  • special programs such as Resume Preparation and Interview Workshops (such programs can better prepare you for the interview experience and increase your chances of being hired into the internship position).
  • a web site with links to helpful sites for identifying internship opportunities.

Talk to students who have completed internships in your field of interest. They may be able to give you valuable insight and information.

What are the ďrulesĒ?  What do I need to know about academic policies regarding internships?

    The following information is a summary of the academic policy you need to observe if you want to earn academic credit.  To be sure you donít miss anything, we suggest that you read over the entire policy on the Internships and Practicums form.

    Who can take an internship?

    If you want to apply for academic credit, you must be a junior or senior who is a degree candidate in good academic standing.   You must be either a full-time student in residence, enrolled in an approved off-campus program, or a part-time student enrolled through The Wescoe School.

    What guidelines should I follow if I have a disability or special need? 

    Students with disabilities and special needs have access to internships under the same guidelines and criteria established for all students.  It is important, however, to discuss in advance any special arrangements or accommodations with either Academic Support Services, Counseling Services, or Student Health Services so that your experience can be as positive as possible.  As always, your documentation and diagnosis must support your request for any special arrangements or accommodations.  Although Muhlenberg will endeavor to provide similar support and accommodations to those you have received on campus, some sites may not be as accessible as others, and the support and accommodations may differ from what you have previously received.  The accommodations should not compromise the essential elements of the experience, but should provide equal access to all facets of the program.

    In addition to working with the appropriate service provider at Muhlenberg, it is helpful to provide information to the faculty sponsor and internship supervisor regarding your special needs and the requested accommodations.  The supporting office can provide a letter of suggested accommodations to assist in your discussions.

    How do I register for an internship?

    Internships must be registered through the Registrarís Office prior to the end of the third week of classes in the term in which the work is recorded.  Complete the Internships and Practicums form.  Make sure that you have the approval of your academic advisor, the faculty member who will sponsor you, and the on-site supervisor.  Without all of the signatures, the registration cannot be processed.  The internship must be completed during the semester in which it is registered.  No retroactive credit will be considered.

    What about summer internships? 

    Using the Internships and Practicums form, available through the Registrar, you must register for a summer internship by the deadline noted in the summer academic calendar, and the internship must be completed prior to the end of the summer term.  No retroactive credit will be considered.  An internship will be billed at the same rate as any other summer course.  You must complete 126-168 hours of work for a summer internship consistent with the standards established for the traditional academic year.

    What standards must I meet in designing my internship? 

    You must consult with the faculty sponsor and the site supervisor in designing your internship.  Normally, no more than one course unit is awarded for such an experience.  You will be expected to work an average of 9-12 hours per week (a total of 126-168 hours per semester) for each course unit you earn. 

    You will complete an academic project which will be defined by and submitted to your faculty sponsor for evaluation.  This final project may be written or presented, as in a seminar, at the discretion of the faculty member.  Also, a learning contract may be required by the faculty sponsor.  The site supervisor will submit a written evaluation of your work; the faculty sponsor will assign the grade.  Your internship will be graded on a pass/fail basis except when it is required by your major. 

    Please note that, in order to avoid any conflict of interest, no family member may serve as on-site supervisor for your internship.

    How many internships may I take at Muhlenberg? 

    Normally, you may take only one internship during any semester or summer session except for internships taken as part of approved programs such as the Semester in Washington, D.C., Dana Associates, and Study Abroad.  However, you may combine an internship with an independent study/research project in a given semester.

    You may earn no more than a total of four course units through individualized instruction, internships, practicums, independent study, research, or special arrangement.  These four course units are the maximum you may apply to the 34 course unit degree requirement, except as required by special programs.

    You may not use an internship to satisfy a general academic requirement.

    What if I want to do an internship, but not for academic credit?  

    We commend you on your initiative and commitment to learning and service!  Many students participate in non-credit experiences each year.  The experience can be rewarding and interesting whether or not you receive academic credit for your efforts.

    Just as in a credit-bearing internship, you will gain valuable work experience, develop contacts, and have an opportunity to test a career in which you are interested.  Additionally, many employers give high points to job candidates who have demonstrated a commitment to service.

    The process of finding a non-credit internship is much the same as for credit-bearing experiences as we described above: check with the Career Center, attend workshops on internships and the job search process, ask your academic department for leads.  Also, check with the Community Service Office for information about volunteer positions in the community.

    Because you are not applying for academic credit, you need not fall within the bounds of the academic policy.  That means you can do non-credit work as a first-year student or work as many or as few hours as you can reasonably handle.

    Because you will not necessarily have a faculty sponsor, a non-unit experience stands the risk of being less clearly defined than a credit-bearing internship.  This can work to your disadvantage.  You owe it to yourself to make the experience worthwhile by identifying your goals and agreeing to expectations with your site supervisor.

    One way of accomplishing this is to write a learning contract with your supervisor.  It will allow you to define your responsibilities and establish a method of evaluation, and it will help you to see your accomplishments.  Additionally, it will lend written support to the quality of your experience, and that will help you in the future as you apply for jobs and graduate programs.  Give a copy of this manual to your site supervisor and ask for his or her involvement in preparing the contract.  We are certain your supervisor will be impressed with your commitment!

    Is there anything else I need to know?

    An internship is comparable to any job for which you will apply in the future.  Prepare for your experience as you would for regular employment.  Learn about the organizations in which you are interested, schedule interviews and visits to the site, and sell yourself.  Donít forget to dress appropriately for your interview:  first impressions are crucial!


Wait!  All this information - I donít know what to do first!

    Hereís a quick summary:

  1. Reflect.  Analyze your skills and begin to define your career interests.  Decide what you want to learn from an internship.

  2. Gather information.  Talk to faculty, career counselors, and students who have completed internships.

  3. Narrow your choices.  Select 10-15 organizations which may be able to offer what youíre looking for in an experience.

  4. Research.  Find out how the organization places interns and who the right person is to contact.  Find out about the programs in which you are interested and their requirements.  Send letters of inquiry or make initial phone calls for information.

  5. Choose your target.  Narrow your search further (to 5-10 organizations), send resumes and cover letters, arrange interviews and/or visits, continue to eliminate organizations based on their capacity to provide the experience you want.

  6. Present your best side.  Prepare to sell yourself by attending the Resume Preparation and Interviewing Skills workshops.

  7. Apply, persist, and follow up.  Send a top-notch application and make follow-up phone calls to let the employer know you are the right one for the position.

  8. Make your choice.  Select the right internship for you.

  9. Complete the internship application.

  10. Arrange academic credit with your faculty sponsor.  Make sure you have the appropriate form from the Registrar ready to be signed as soon as you make your decision.

  11. Finalize arrangements.  Agree on when you will start, how many hours per week or semester you will work, what duties you are expected to perform, and your responsibilities.  Make sure the form is processed by the Registrar.   Write your learning contract.

  12. Begin!  Good luck!

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