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FAQs | Internships

What is an internship?

An internship will provide you with real world experiences with writing in a professional setting. An internship awards academic credit for supervised work experience that is specifically related to your university education. The work must provide:

  • Enough work to justify the registered credits.
  • A job supervisor capable of mentoring the intern.
  • Learning opportunities.

Many times, students leave the university with no work-related experiences in their major area, and they are unsure of the job possibilities available to them. An internship will provide you with a better idea of what you can do with a degree in English, and it will help smooth the transition between school and work. The experience will also help you know how to market your skills after graduation.

What kinds of internships are available?

The English department offers two types of internships: one for students seeking a general English-related experience and another for students in the Writing Certificate Program. We have relationships with local businesses and agencies including university departments and non-profit agencies. The writing internship coordinator can work with you on finding an internship suitable to your needs and on establishing contact with the internship sponsor. Students are also welcome to seek out local internships on their own, as long as they are both professional in nature and writing-intensive. These outside internships should be approved by the writing internship coordinator.

For those students enrolled in the Writing Certificate Program, three hours of internship credit are a requirement in order to complete the program. Students should discuss the specific requirements of the writing internship with the program director prior to applying for an internship with the writing internship coordinator.

Key people to contact for more information are:

Ruby Macksoud
Internship Coordinator
Department of English RBH 129

Shauna Dranetz
Assistant Director of Academic Services
Department of English 
480-965-3535 (to make an appointment)

What kinds of tasks will I perform during the internship? 

Students perform a variety of tasks depending on their interests and skills. Internships available to students could allow them to develop promotional and marketing materials, design and test Web sites, produce manuals and training materials, develop documentation for software or computer products, copyedit documents, write press releases or news articles, compose and revise policy documents, research and write grant applications, assist in publishing processes or create tutorials and other help materials. There may be even more possibilities depending on the internship.

At times, students seeking an English degree may want to earn internship credit by teaching writing or tutoring student writers. The English department recognizes that teaching or tutoring writing offers useful work experience and fosters writing growth; however, the purpose of the internship credit is to help students transition their writing skills from the classroom to the workplace.

What do I need to qualify for one of these internships?

In order to qualify, the student should be a junior or senior English major (or student in the Writing Certificate Program) with a minimum 3.00 GPA. The student should have significant course work in the major and have supporting course work in the specific area of the internship (for instance, students without course work in technical writing would not be qualified for a technical writing internship). The student will also need to have time in his or her schedule for at least 10 hours of internship work per week in order to earn the full three credits. English major may earn up to six hours of internship credit; English minors may earn up to three hours. Students in the Writing Certificate Program are required to earn three hours of internship credit to complete the program.

How much time does an internship take?

A minimum of 50 hours of work per credit hour is required for internships. However, academic credit is not granted for working hours alone. Students must also meet pre-planned goals that are proportional to the registered credit hours and provide evidence of high-quality work and significant learning related to the student's major field of study.

To estimate the number of credit hours for an internship, consider that for a 15-week semester, one would work about four hours per week for one credit, seven hours per week for two credits, or 10 hours per week for three credits. Decreasing the number of weeks of work will increase the number of hours needed per week. For example, an intern may work more during some weeks than others, depending on the workplace demands and the intern's schedule. The estimate also depends on the amount of work to be done and the time required to finish it.

In keeping track of their time, interns record all hours related to internship tasks. Internship hours may include time spent in job training related to assigned tasks, meetings with supervisors, research, note taking, planning, drafting, writing and designing, document production and so forth.

Internships do not usually include time spent traveling, answering the telephones or performing other office duties. If such an activity is necessary to complete a particular document, the time it takes may be counted. Such exceptions should be discussed with the writing internship coordinator beforehand.

The timing of internships is flexible so that interns can work within an employer's time frame and possibly take advantage of semester breaks. With prior approval from the writing internship coordinator, interns may begin work before a semester begins or extend internships beyond the end of a semester. Registration and grade reports conform to university deadlines, however.

After I decide to undertake an internship, what do I need to do?

The first thing you should do is contact the writing internship coordinator. You will need to make an appointment to discuss the internship and to bring a recent copy of your resume with you to the meeting. With approval, you will sign up for ENG 484, which is the companion course for all students engaged in an internship. You will also need to send a professional e-mail/phone call to the contact person at internship sponsoring organization to set up an initial meeting.

Why do I need to take the English 484 course? 

The English 484 course is the companion to the internship experience. It is a course in applied rhetoric where we share one another's internship experiences, analyze and discuss the workplace environment, and receive feedback from each other on work-related projects. In short, English 484 is a support course in which students are asked to reflect on what and how they are learning in their internships.

Are there any paid internships? 

Very few internships are able to offer monetary compensation for the internship experience. The vast majority of internships are unpaid.

How do students find an internship position?

Students are encouraged to seek out their own internships. Some of the best internships are those initiated by students. Companies may post internship opportunities on their Web sites or advertise them in newspapers and journals. Large employment Web sites typically provides internship opportunities as well.

Finding an internship may require making "cold calls," telephone calls to businesses or agencies where the intern does not know the personnel. The prospective intern usually asks whether the organization might have some writing projects for which they could use the help of a university intern. Many do. But most interns know that the first call may not necessarily be the successful one, so they plan a number of calls to prospective organizations. The process is similar to freelancing. Students may consult with an undergraduate English advisor or writing internship coordinator about searching and calling strategies.

As a resource to students, the undergraduate English advising staff, the writing certificate director, and the writing internship coordinator all maintain a file of sample placements and can let students know about past internship positions and help them explore possible new ones.

I would like to get a summer internship. What can I do? 

You can examine the supplemental resources on the internship possibilities Web page for potential summer internships. It is recommended that you develop a portfolio of your professional work and update your résumé.

To discuss the possibilities of an English internship, see the Department of English Director of Internships:
Ruby Macksoud
RBHL 129