Students in the advertising, broadcasting, journalism, and public relations concentrations are required to complete an internship as part of the curriculum.
Internships are an incredible opportunity to get on-the-job training and experience in the field where you'd like to work after graduation. For many graduates, the internship turns into part-time or full-time work after they've earned their degree.
Here are some answers to many of our students’ frequently asked questions concerning the communication internship, CMCN 490(G):
1. Whose responsibility is it to secure an internship for me?
2. Can the Communication Department help?
Yes. The instructor for CMCN 490G maintains a list of sites that have employed students in the past. Job descriptions and past intern reports and assessments are available in the Department Office, Burke-Hawthorne 101.
3. Will I be paid?
Some sites pay, others don’t. Those that pay usually are claimed first.
4. When should I begin looking for an internship?
It’s a good idea to begin interviewing before your CMCN 490 semester begins. In addition, you may wish to consult with your faculty adviser for the names of prospective employers who have a good track record with student internships. It is your job to follow up with the necessary telephone calls and interviews in order to secure the position. It’s a good idea to interview at several internship sites and take the job that seems to fit your needs best.
5. When is the best semester to take the internship?
Usually your final semester. First, you’ll have more training, more maturity and more job skills. Second, if you do a great job and your internship site wants to hire you, you’ll be available to take the job because you’re graduating at the end of the semester. Public relations majors should take CMCN 321 before attempting an internship
6. How many hours do I work?
At least 10 hours a week.
7. Can I work 20 hours one week and get off the following week?
No. You must work 10 hours each week during the internship.
8. Does the Department offer summer internships?
Usually, but this depends on faculty availability. Summer internships require more hours per week, because summer sessions are shorter than regular semesters.
9. Can I do out-of-town internships over the summer?
Yes, although you must arrange special reporting requirements with the internship faculty member. Public relations majors should schedule out-of-town internships in the summer of their senior year.
10. Other than my job duties, what else must I accomplish to fulfill course requirements for CMCN 490?
You must complete a learning contract, turn in weekly informal reports, meet weekly with the CMCN 490 class, turn in mid-semester and final reports, prepare a formal resume and job search, and complete other readings and assignments.
11. How will I be graded?
Your grade will depend on your course work described in question 10 above, and on your evaluations completed by your job supervisor.
12. My uncle is a dentist. He says he could use some PR. Can I do my internship for him?
To this and similar questions, consider the Department’s position: The internship is primarily a learning experience. You should work under the supervision of a professional in your field.
13. I’ve been working at Knives R Us at the mall for the past two years. Can this count as my internship?
To continue your current job as your internship, you should be able to show that you will be doing professional-level tasks under the guidance of an experienced communication professional. How will you learn more and grow professionally by staying within your old job? Sometimes this is possible by upgrading your duties within your current employment.
14. When does my internship work end?
Your final week of work should coincide with the final full week of classes in the semester for which you’re registered in CMCN 490.
15. Can I switch jobs if I don’t like the internship?
This would be highly irregular. You would have to show that your internship job supervisor is not fulfilling the terms of the learning contract.
16. Can my internship job coordinator fire me?
Yes. And your CMCN 490 grade would reflect this.
17. What are the main qualities job supervisors want?
You will probably be supervised by someone who is already very busy. Surveys have shown that internship supervisors value your initiative and independence even more than your specific job skills. Offer to undertake new tasks once you’ve completed assigned tasks. Make yourself invaluable to your employer. Do not engage in “upward delegation” by telling your supervisor, in so many words, “I’m helpless; you do this task for me, because you’re experienced at it.” Your thoroughness and attention to detail are also important.
18. What should I expect of a good internship?
First, you should learn a lot. You should be given professional assignments and not clerical or maintenance duties. (Occasional clerical work is OK, but in general you should be given tasks commensurate with your nearly complete university training.) You should meet lots of people in the communication field. You should attend meetings and begin to build a network of contacts for future employment. You should receive clear instructions about tasks to be accomplished. You should get story bylines, clippings, photo credits or videography credits that you can show to prospective employers. You should be able to get letters of recommendation from your site supervisor. It’s not unusual for an internship site to hire an intern full-time upon completion of the internship. However, this is often a matter of availability of a position and you should not feel that you’ve failed if you’re not hired.
19. How should I dress?
Dress as other professionals at your internship site dress. You are an ambassador of the Department and the University. Your professional comportment will not only reflect well on you, it will encourage your internship supervisor to hire future communication students.
20. Can I take more than one internship?
You can, but only one can be used for degree credit.