Faculty section: Internship program best practices

Members of the Huron Committee conducted a survey of eight institutions during the spring 2016 semester and inquired about their internship/experiential learning programs and procedures. The list below reflects information gathered from that survey as suggested “best practices” for UT Martin programs.

  1. There are typically one or two staff or faculty members specifically assigned to direct and supervise student internships in each area. Sometimes a central office handles assignments, when feasible.
  2. A syllabus is required with each internship assignment to specify learning objectives. Some programs have common objectives at the university level, which are then supplemented at the college or department level to be specific to the student’s field of study.
  3. Course requirements for internships vary, but most include presentations and/or papers. Papers may require reflective writing at the conclusion of the experience, and regular journaling can serve as a monitoring process.
  4. Most programs require written agreements between the employer, student and department to ensure the student will be exposed to the types of situations and experiences needed to successfully complete the internship.
  5. Most positions (60-70%) are paid internships.
  6. The programs surveyed avoid all 22-22-22 opportunities. (The student is 22 years old, works 22 hours per day and is paid $22,000 annually.)
  7. International internships are facilitated by companies in host nations.
  8. Employer evaluations are required in most instances and may be a factor in the student’s internship grade.
  9. Some programs assign letter grades for internships and some are pass/fail.
  10. If an internship is required for graduation, a variety of options are presented. Examples include student teaching, leadership positions (both on- and off-campus), traditional internships, co-ops and clinicals.
  11. Students prepare for internship semesters by completing a preparatory course or a series of seminars. Seminars are also used for students other than interns to acquaint them with expectations of the working world.
  12. Some programs also include an internship fair as part of traditional career fairs where current or past interns make presentations to help recruit other students and encourage them to take part in experiential-learning opportunities. This could also be a required presentation as part of internship assignments.
  13. Internships are often secured through personal student contacts, faculty contacts in an academic area, professional recruiters in the internship office, websites and internet searches, long-term commitments between employer and university, contacts by university administrators, alumni contacts and administrators in alumni-support operations.

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