If you are headed directly toward a career in a Communication-related field, one of the most important things that you can add to your program of study is an internship experience. Our Department strongly encourages students to pursue internship opportunities, when relevant to their area of interest—so much so that some of our specializations require them!
However, there are a few things to know about the internship process…so please read through the following information before you start planning for your internship experience! After you have reviewed this information, feel free to contact the Department’s Internship Coordinator, Prof. Juanita Weaver.
Prof. Weaver will have internship advising hours in Fall 2011. She will also be available other times by appointment. Her office is Garey B6B, and her office phone is 9-4794.
An internship is a great way for you to get some entry-level experience in some area of Communication, fulfilling basic roles for a for-profit or not-for-profit organization. However, an internship is much more than “practical experience.” Internships are opportunities for students to integrate their academic studies with a specific profession, in order to show the strong connection between theory, research, and practice within the field of Communication.
Both the Communication Department and the College of Arts & Sciences have updated information regarding a host of organizations that have internship opportunities available to undergraduate students, but the exact number and variety of openings changes each semester. In addition, you should look through the database of internship opportunities maintained by the College Director of Internships.
You also can find internship opportunities on your own, through personal networking, via the web, or by talking to a faculty member here at VU.
Regardless of how you find your internship opportunity, you should first determine whether it requires you to receive academic credit. Even if your COM specialization requires an internship, this does not mean that you have to receive credit for it; however, particular organizations may require that you receive credit in order to participate in their internship program. Either way, you can receive payment from your organization—just because you receive a small stipend or salary, in other words, doesn’t mean that you have to forego the academic credit in the process!
If you are doing an internship for no credit, but the internship is meant to fulfill the requirement within your COM specialization (including Journalism, Public Relations, or Media Production), then contact the specialization coordinator to find out what documentation you need to substantiate your work as an intern.
Please be aware that virtually all for-profit organizations will require college credit if they are not paying you at least minimum wage.
Interning for Credit: Getting Started
You should by setting up a meeting with our Department’s Internship Coordinator, Prof. Juanita Weaver. She will be able to talk to you about the internships that best fit your specific interest in Communication. She can also help you determine whether you meet the requirements for internships, and assist you in taking the next step in the application process.
Interning for Credit: Requirements
Students interested in receiving academic credit for their work as an intern may choose to earn this credit in the summer, as well as during the fall or spring semesters. Typically, depending upon the hours worked, an internship earns 3 or 6 credits, but more extensive, semester-long internship programs may earn students 12 to 15 credits. However, regardless of the amounts of credit desired for the internship, note that there are academic requirements, set by the College of Arts & Sciences, that must be met before a student is allowed to register for an internship—which means that you must meet these requirements before you apply for an internship that requires you to receive academic credit. The requirements are as follows:
- 3.0 overall GPA (spring/fall internships) or 2.7 overall GPA (summer internships). Please note that the Communication Department does not grant any exceptions to these minimum requirements;
- At least 6 credit hours completed in Communication; for some internships (such as many in public relations, media production, or journalism) you must also have introductory coursework in that specific area of Communication. As a result, most internships are advanced openings for which special skills and/or preparation in specific academic courses are expected. Opportunities for students who are just beginning communication courses are usually not available;
- A completed application for internship credits, submitted to the College of Arts & Sciences Internship Director;
- A completed course registration form (an “add slip”), signed by you and the Communication Department chairperson, which will allow you to register for your desired amount of internship credit. This form is available in the Communication Department main office, but will only be signed once the rest of your application for internship credits has been processed.
Interning for Credit: Academic Component
Once you’ve been registered for your for-credit internship, you need to ensure that you fulfill the academic requirements for receipt of internship credit. For the Communication Department, this means that, in addition to completing the duties central to your internship, you must:
- Attend all seminars as required by the Internship Program Office;
- Complete any other requirements as specified by the Internship Program Office;
- Complete a “Learning Goals” statement about the internship experience;
- Keep a weekly log of internship activities;
- Ensure that the supervisor completes the internship evaluation form about your job performance;
- Submit your required 7-10 page research paper directly to the Internship Office by the last day of class for the semester.
Once all of these have been completed and assessed by our Department’s internship coordinators, then you will receive a satisfactory grade for your internship credits!