Faculty Guide to Internships

Internships are valuable opportunities for your students to explore career interests, gain essential skills specific to professional disciplines, and increase their marketability to employers. Designed to be an integral part of a student’s academic program, an internship allows a student to earn credit for learning gained in a work setting. Students often find they are more motivated in the classroom after experiencing practical application of their academic discipline through an internship. 

Benefits of Internships

Internships provide students with many benefits, including:

  • Integrating practical experience in the workplace with academic theory and coursework
  • Developing critical skills specific to professional disciplines
  • Significantly increasing students’ marketability to employers after graduation
  • Exploring career interests and making educated choices about what type of work environment they want after graduation
  • Gaining self-confidence in the workplace
  • Learning how to interact professionally
  • Easing the transition from college to their chosen vocation
  • Earning course credit and, in most cases, income

Internships generally range from 10 to 20 hours of work per week for 1–5 credits (typically three to four hours of work per week per credit). Students are responsible for negotiating the specifics with their faculty sponsor (a faculty member who will oversee the internship, establish parameters for learning objectives and activities, and determine the final grade) and internship site supervisor.

Helping a Student Find an Internship

Although each academic department at SPU sets specific prerequisites for participation in internships, the Center for Career and Calling can help all departments by assisting students in their internship search. Encourage students to make an appointment with a career counselor to help them strategize their internship search. There is also a wealth of information on our website about finding internships.

Faculty can help students determine the suitability of a particular internship. Prior to accepting an internship offer, the student should obtain a detailed job description and ask the following questions to ensure that the internship experience will be an appropriate integration of practical experience and academic theory:

  1. Will I be able to work above my current skill level?
  2. Does the employer offer an established program, committed resources, and an involved supervisor?
  3. Will I have exposure to various departments and/or functions within the organization?
  4. What types of tasks, projects, and presentations will I complete? 
  5. Are there opportunities for full-time positions after graduation?
  6. Are there opportunities to network with other professionals in the field?

The Role of the Faculty Sponsor

To earn credit for an internship, each student must find a faculty sponsor. This could be the student’s faculty advisor or another faculty member in the student’s discipline. Prior to registration, the faculty sponsor must meet with the student to:

  1. Define learning objectives — specific skills to be developed, knowledge to be gained
  2. Identify learning activities and events that support the learning objective
  3. Determine how learning objectives and activities will be demonstrated for course grade evaluation (papers, portfolios, and/or presentations)

Once the above items are established, the student can initiate the registration process by completing the online “Internship Learning Form” on Handshake. After the student submits the form, the faculty sponsor and internship site supervisor will be emailed a link to electronically sign the form before it moves on to the registrar for final approval. It is essential that the form be signed promptly so that registration is completed before the 10th day of the quarter. (For more information, see Finding and Registering for an Internship.)

The faculty sponsor will meet with the student as needed during the internship quarter.  At the end of the quarter, the faculty sponsor will receive an online evaluation from the internship site supervisor, which can be taken into consideration for the student’s final grade, along with papers, portfolios, or presentations the student created during the internship.

Pat Parsons

Why I Work at SPU

Pat Parsons, Program Manager

“I work at SPU because of the richness and diversity of the community, the character of SPU students, faculty, and staff, and the many opportunities for spiritual and intellectual growth available to all. It is a particular joy to serve, support, and collaborate with my colleagues in the Center for Career and Calling — a team of gifted, hard-working, fun-loving, compassionate people who consistently put the needs of our students and alumni first, helping them discover their calling and launch fulfilling careers.”

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