Internship in Depth
An internship is an opportunity for a student to gain practice in a real world setting under the guidance of a knowledgeable, experienced, and successful supervisor. The internship can be established in any setting in which information is gathered, stored, managed, retrieved, and disseminated. Internships are typically completed by the student for the purpose of earning academic credit only. In some cases, however, as long as the requirements for academic credit are established as a portion of the overall internship experience, students may receive payment for their work.
Specific skills or courses required for an internship are listed in the descriptions. M.L.S. students may register for 3 credits; students in dual, M.I.S., or specialist programs may complete up to 6 credits with advisor approval.
Guidelines to Note
Common Requirements for Academic Credit
Academic credit is granted for those internships that include the opportunity for the student to experience, as nearly as possible, the professional role of the supervisor. The student should take an active part in such activities as program planning, task analysis, program implementation, direct contact information users, attending meetings or training sessions, recommending options, and evaluating decisions. It is expected that the student will work independently or with minimal supervision during a substantial portion of the internship.
- Normally, the internship is for one semester, approximately 16 weeks. The fall semester usually begins the last week of August and runs through the second week in December. The spring semester usually begins the second week in January and runs through the first week in May. The summer term usually begins the second week in May and runs through the second week in August.
- The internship is a part-time position and should not exceed 20 hours per week. Normally, the internships should be equal to 8 to 12 hours of on-task activity each week of the semester. Actual schedules, however, are determined by mutual agreement between the supervisor and intern.
- Normally, an institution does not employ the same intern for more than one semester. This allows a greater number of students to gain the experience and does not commit the institution to long-range employment obligations. Institutions are encouraged to provide internships on an ongoing basis.
- Interns should be interviewed by prospective employers at least one month prior to the start of the internship. Placements will be determined no less than one week prior to the beginning of the semester of the experience.
Role of the Student
The student should raise the potential for an internship with his or her academic adviser early in the planning stages for the graduate program of courses leading to the master's degree or certification. Although the internship comes at the final stages of the student's academic program, course work which will best prepare the student for an internship should be determined and completed in the academic program.
A student may explore the potential for internship placement at a specific site and discuss the possibilities with a potential supervisor. There should be no commitments made however until the internship has been negotiated by the coordinator.
During the first few weeks of the semester prior to the internship the student should contact the coordinator to discuss options for the placement. Application should be completed before mid-term of the semester prior to the expected internship experience. In most cases, supervisors will require that the student make an appointment to interview for the internship. Just as the coordinator may deny placement, a supervisor has the right to decline serving as a mentor for a student and the student may decline an offered internship placement. The goal is to secure an environment that will provide a quality internship experience for all parties involved.
Role of the Student's Adviser
It is important for the student's adviser to give guidance and recommendation as to when and where the internship should take place. The adviser is expected to help judge the adequacy of the student's academic and skill background for the internship. Normally, at least 18 credits should be completed prior to the internship. Those courses which are core or required for the masters degree should be completed at a grade point average of B or better. Courses which are directly relevant to the internship should also be completed. Thus, it is normal that the student enroll in the internship experience during his or her final semester.
The internship is intended to provide some practical application of skills, and also for students to come as close as possible to "entry level" experiences for positions similar to that held by the supervisor. The internship should involve a wide variety of tasks, problems, opportunities, observations, and challenges. It is never to be a clerical or a routine experience. A special project may be established by the supervisor which may consume a great deal of the student's time, but this one project should not comprise the entire internship experience.
In most cases, the student will be expected to have completed at least 18 graduate hours toward either the MLS or the MIS prior to entering an internship. Students may be expected to have completed several specific courses relevant to the internship prior to beginning their duties.