What Is an Internship?

An internship is three things: 1) a learning experience that provides students with the opportunity to apply and reflect on ideas developed in their course work and throughout their college career, 2) a strategic transition from school to work that helps students build a career direction and a clear connection to the job market and 3) a mutually beneficial relationship in which a student carries out agreed upon tasks and responsibilities and makes a contribution to the organization while gaining the skills and experience of doing an internship.

An internship is the bridge that connects schooling and paid employment. Students are able to apply their sociological skills to a work setting. As a result, students gain an understanding of how organizations function, as well as experience that can help them find a job once their college education is complete.

The internship in Employment Relations is the capstone requirement of the applied concentration in the sociology program. The purpose of the internship is to provide students with an active learning, hands-on experience in which they may apply sociological perspectives and research methods to the workplace. We believe that a successful and worthwhile internship experience will be built on academic learning and that it will expand new skills and capabilities that can only be acquired in an actual employment setting. In addition, the internship is also an excellent opportunity to develop contacts and networks that will be useful to students in pursuing their chosen careers and professional development.

The internship course, Sociology 433, is a three credit course that requires (a) 120 hours on site in an organization; (b) attendance in the 433 class that meets one day a week; c) a written journal that describes and analyzes your daily experiences on site; (d) an analytical paper that is based on journal entries and incorporates the concepts learned in Sociology 338, 431 and other relevant courses and (e) an oral presentation given to the class that analyzes the internship organization.

In the internship program, students find work in an organization of their choice. In choosing an organization, students should be primarily concerned with whether the
organization can offer their interns a learning experience and practical skills that can be used after the internship is complete.

At the internship organization, the student should find a site supervisor: someone who is willing to act as a mentor to the intern within the organization. The site supervisor should be someone who possesses the willingness, the skills and position to insure that the student is getting the fullest learning experience possible.