An academic internship is a professionally related work or volunteer experience grounded in academic application and learning objectives. It is an educational plan designed to integrate classroom study with planned, supervised, and evaluated work experience that links the academic program with students’ majors, career goals, and interests. The experience should have a reflective component and strengthen the students’ professional, academic, and personal growth.
Note: It is important to note that each academic department holds full authority for the requirements for enrollment in the department’s internship experience.
- Create a course number with credit assigned (usually 3 credits or 1-3 credits)
- Designate person as the internship coordinator
- Establish departmental student eligibility requirements that may include number of internship credit hours (fixed number or variable credits), GPA, academic rank, (sophomore, junior, etc.) and particular courses completed, if necessary
- Discuss syllabus for the internship course that includes course description, course objectives, academic assignments (to include reflective components), student site evaluation, and employer/agency evaluation of intern
- Decide if a letter grade or pass/fail should be given and whether the internship credit can be used to replace an elective, count toward graduation, etc.
- Decide if students require additional insurance and/or background checks. For example, each student in the IPFW School of Education is required by the school to get a criminal history check.
- Assist internship coordinator with student site development
- Development of student application and approval process
- Is the faculty member of record for the internship course and has the responsibility for quality of the internship
- Modifies departmental syllabus to particular internship objectives, if necessary
- Approves and monitors the experience that is related to the student’s field of study
- Develops new or locates current internship openings
- Keeps in contact with the student and supervisor throughout the semester
- Obtains a description from the employer/agency about the internship assignment
- Identifies appropriate methods for students to document their learning to justify earning credit
- Visits interns on site at least one time per semester, preferably mid-semester
Qualities of a challenging internship experience
- The academic integrity of an academic internship program lies primarily in two arenas. One is in selecting and approving only quality positions for internship experiences, and the other is in the monitoring of the experience so the student is fully challenged and engaged in the learning experience embedded in their internship.
- Academic credit is given for learning that occurs through reflection and connection to the course, not for working/volunteering
- Outline of internship expectations of student, faculty, and employer/agency
- Insure position or work assignments are professional in nature
- Students have hands-on work with increasing levels of responsibility
- When using variable credit, the greater the number of credits earned, the more difficult the academic assignment
- Work enhances the employer’s productivity and is not solely job shadowing or observation by intern
- The majority of work should involve critical thinking & decision-making skills rather than clerical work
If resumes, cover letters, letters of reference, portfolios, etc. are required as part of the application process, Career Services provides workshops and appointments to assist with student preparation. They can be reached at 260-481-0689 and are located in Kettler Hall, Room 109.