INTERNSHIP in COMMUNICATION
- Why DO an internship?
An internship is NOT a requirement of the COMM major plan of study, but is highly recommended. Among other advantages, internships provide (a) practical working experience; (b) skills in writing and in operating communication technologies and current software packages; and, (c) networking opportunities. An internship can help students boost self-confidence, achieve greater focus to their academic study, and help them build a resume. Internships can also provide insight into career decision-making—often helping to confirm or rule out certain career paths. During your time at UConn, COMM 4991 and UConn’s HuskyCareerPrep can help begin your career preparation early as well as help you develop your Career Capital—the skills and experience that will make you attractive to employers.
- How do I CHOOSE an internship?
Think about what kind of job you want when you finish school. What internship setting can give you the necessary skills? (Often small organizations will let you do more.) Where will you learn more about the industry? What organization will give you tangible “products” (videos, press releases, advert copies, etc.) that you can use in a “portfolio” when you job hunt? Where can you make contacts that will help you get a job after graduation? (If you want to work in a specific organization, make those contacts now.) Is it possible that the internship can turn into a job later? What will be impressive on your resume?
If you are unsure of what you want to do, pick a career track to “test” and do an internship at that type of organization. Finding out that you DON’T want to go into an area of communication is as informative as finding out that you love it; it is easier to switch career tracks now than later. Remember, you can do a second internship later for a new experience.
- How do I FIND an internship?
To help you locate an organization with which to intern, the COMM department has created an Internship Database to serve as a reference. This database contains a list of the names, addresses, and phone numbers of several dozen organizations that have offered internship experiences to our students in the past.
It is also possible to intern at an organization that is not on the list. Many students will use their personal contacts (especially parents’ acquaintances) and network of friends to find organizations close to home. A significant resource for all things career related is available to all UConn students: the Center for Career Development (CCD). In addition to internship help, the CCD website contains HuskyCareerLink, as well as access to national search engines that are available once you are ready to enter the workforce. UConn interns have worked for financial and insurance institutions (Travelers, Merrill Lynch), public relations firms and event planning organizations, non-profits, fashion houses and design firms, and in broadcasting and film production—including internships at NBC, MTV, ESPN, and on the production crew of the film Mystic Pizza! We have had interns in almost every industry. The important criteria for new sites are: (a) your duties are significant and communication-related (not more than 20% of your duties consist of sales, clerical/secretarial, or phone reception); and, (b) your supervisor is qualified and willing to mentor and teach you important industry- and field-specific skills.
- How do I receive COMM credit for an internship?
To receive COMM credit for an internship in a COMM-related field, students may enroll in COMM 4991 Internship in Communication. The course is open to students with Junior or Senior status, who have completed at least 12 credit hours of Communication courses at the 2000 level or above. The internship may be repeated once, but the internship must have different job duties and a different supervisor.
- How many credits can I receive through COMM 4991?
Through COMM 4991, an intern may earn up to three (3) credits for an internship, based on the number of hours worked:
- 3 credits, for a minimum of 126 hours worked during a semester
- 2 credits, for a minimum of 84 hours worked during a semester
- 1 credit, for a minimum of 42 hours worked during a semester
It is the intern’s responsibility to arrange a work schedule with the intern supervisor that will meet the minimum number of hours required for the credit value the intern expects to earn for the internship.
- What are the steps to receiving COMM credit for an internship?
- Find a suitable internship. It is the student’s responsibility to secure an internship, to complete the necessary application procedures, and meet the acceptance criteria of the internship organization. Should the prospective intern need it, a letter introducing our COMM internship program and describing the duties and responsibilities of prospective internship supervisors is available from the COMM advising office, ARJ 245. Internship supervisors will be expected to sign an Internship Supervisor Agreement, which will be mailed to supervisors when the internship has been approved by the course supervisor for COMM 4991. The internship supervisor will also be required to complete a brief evaluation of the intern at the conclusion of the internship.
- Obtain permission to enroll in COMM 4991. Once the internship has been secured (or the student is close to doing so), the student must email the COMM 4991 Course Supervisor for a permission number. The email should briefly describe the proposed internship and how it will contribute to the student’s COMM plan of study. Because enrollment in COMM 4991 is by instructor consent only, the student must use the permission number issued by the course supervisor in order to enroll in COMM 4991—in much the same way a student would register for any other course. As with all other courses, the last day to enroll in COMM 4991 is the 10th day of the semester. A STUDENT CANNOT ENROLL IN COMM 4991 AFTER BEGINNING THE INTERNSHIP, nor can credit be earned after the internship has already been completed.
- Complete the Internship Application. In order for the course supervisor to properly assess the educational value of the internship, the student must complete the COMM 4991 application. Upon submission, the form will be routed to the course supervisor for approval. The form asks for a description of your internship objectives and proposed internship duties as well as the correct names and addresses for you and your supervisor. (Credit for the internship is DEPENDENT on approval of the internship as a COMM internship, and therefore REQUIRES that the Internship Application be approved by the course supervisor of COMM 4991 in order for you to receive COMM credit.)
- Ensure that all relevant fields on the application form are complete and convey sufficient detail, especially the following:
- Supervisor Position/Title and Relevant Qualifications
Your supervisor must be a trained communication professional. A trained communication professional has the ability to be a mentor. This should be a mentoring experience. Be sure to ask your supervisor all of his/her relevant communication qualifications and list them on the application.
- Description of Internship Duties
It is acceptable for you to do some clerical work, but typing, filing, and phone reception should not be your primary duties. Those tasks should compromise no more than 20% of your internship experience. The majority of your time should be spent getting practical communication-related work experience.
- NO APPROVAL for COMM 4991 credit may be given AFTER you have begun the internship; so, make sure to complete your internship application form EARLY and have it approved before the 10th day of the semester.
- STUDENTS WITHOUT AN APPROVED APPLICATION FORM BY THE 10th DAY OF THE SEMESTER (i.e. THE ADD/DROP DATE) MAY BE withdrawn FROM THE COURSE BY THE COURSE SUPERVISOR.
- Be sure to do your paperwork in a timely fashion. If your site is not approved early enough, you may not have the time to select another internship site, or to register for another course to replace COMM 4991.
- How is my grade determined?
By the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences rules, you will be assigned a grade of “S” (Satisfactory) or “U” (Unsatisfactory) for the internship. This grade will not be used in computing your GPA, but the credits will count toward graduation. At the end of the semester your internship supervisor will be asked to fill out a form to evaluate your performance. This will be the primary evaluation that you will receive. If you receive an “Unsatisfactory” evaluation from your supervisor, you will be asked to discuss the evaluation with our Internship Coordinator. The final grade will be assigned by our Internship Coordinator, after taking into account both the site supervisor’s evaluation and your comments.
- Do we have class meetings?
A meeting during the first week of the semester will orient students to the internship experience and explain course requirements. This will be the only meeting for the semester.
- What if I am unhappy with the internship after I’ve begun?
During the internship, if you find yourself being unfairly treated because of race, gender, religion, national origin, political view, or any other illegitimate reasons, you should contact the Course Supervisor for COMM 4991 or the Internship Coordinator in the advising office immediately. You should wait for a response from the Course Supervisor before continuing the internship. For on-campus internships, you may contact the Office of Diversity and Equity directly or seek assistance from any of the institutions cited in the President’s Policy on Harassment such as the Women’s Center, the Office of the Dean of Students, etc. University regulations require that you must file the complaint within 30 days after the discriminatory act. For more information on the policies and procedures on harassment, consult the following sections in the Student Handbook referring to: (a) “Discrimination and Complaint Procedures”; (b) President’s Policy on Harassment (for on-campus sites); and, (c) “Protection of Students and Staff from Discrimination and Harassment During Off-Campus Experiences.”
If you feel your supervisor’s evaluation performance is not fair (such as based on inadequate information), you can appeal to the instructor. Your supervisor’s evaluation is suggestive in determining your grade, and the instructor will not alter that part of the grade unless there is evidence of unfairness.
If it is simply a matter of not liking your supervisor or some of your particular internship duties, you may wish to remain with the internship for the duration of the semester and learn what you can. Even a ‘poor’ internship experience (so long as it is not abusive or dangerous), may prove to be helpful in the long run, as it may supply you with valuable experiences that may only be learned through trial and error. Failure and setbacks are learning opportunities, when assessed for what they might teach you—rather than merely for how they failed to measure up to an ideal. The internship in Communication course may be repeated once; so, try another internship, perhaps with a different focus or a different organization. Just don’t give up! The internship has the potential to enhance and enrich your plan of study, by supplying the invaluable experiential component of your Communication education.
If you or your company would like to offer our undergraduate COMM majors the opportunity of a communication-related internship experience, please complete our Internship Form: http://comm.uconn.edu/comm-related-internship-form/. If you have any additional questions feel free to contact José (Joel) Nebres, our Internship Administrative coordinator.