This discussion provides brief answers to common questions. For further detail or information not provided in this discussion, please contact the Internship Coordinator, Dr. Baker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
1. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN INTERNSHIP AND A FIELD EXPERIENCE?
An internship is for students who work temporarily in an agency/organization with the goal of learning about multiple parts of the agency/organization. Interns typically move around the agency and engage in different types of work. They work closely with a Site Supervisor who is responsible for training, managing and evaluating the intern.
A field experience is designed for students who are already working in a field related to their major. During the semester these students enroll in the Field Experience Program, students continue their normal work. Their manager/superior is responsible for overseeing their normal work and providing an evaluation at the end of the term.
2. WHEN DO STUDENTS TYPICALLY ENROLL IN AN INTERNSHIP/FIELD EXPERIENCE?
The internship/field experience program is designed for upper-division students (junior or senior level). For those students who enroll, it typically takes a couple of months to complete the application process (see application details below). So interested students should begin the application process early.
3. WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR ENROLLING IN THE INTERNSHIP/FIELD EXPERIENCE PROGRAM?
Internships/Field Experiences are designed for Sociology/Anthropology/Criminology majors (minors should consider completing an internship in their major field).
For majors, additional requirements include at least junior standing (60 completed credit hours); completion of at least 12 credits within the major; major GPA 2.80 or higher; approval of the student’s academic advisor; and consent of Internship Coordinator and department head.
Finally, other issues may be taken into consideration when a student applies. For example, a student in the internship will not be allowed to enroll in overload credits (more than 18 credits in the fall/spring or more than 9 credits in the summer). Additionally, a student will not be allowed to work a full-time job while enrolling in a separate internship.
4. ARE EXCEPTIONS MADE FOR ANY OF THE REQUIREMENTS?
Occasionally, exceptions are made for students who do not meet one of the requirements. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Students who would like to considered for an exception should go ahead and apply for the internship. When they submit their applications, they should submit a separate letter explaining why they think an exception should be made in their case. In addition, this student will need to meet with their SAC advisor and complete the academic advisor form.
5. HOW MANY HOURS IS THE TYPICAL INTERNSHIP/FIELD EXPERIENCE?
Students can earn 1 academic credit for every 40 hours or work. Most students complete a 3-credit internship/field experience so they work at least 120 hours during the semester. During a normal fall or spring semester, these hours break down to about 10 hours per week. In addition to the work, students also complete a variety of academic and professional assignments throughout the semester.
The maximum number of credits a student can earn varies by major. Sociology and Anthropology students can earn a maximum of 3 academic credits in an internship/field experience. In Criminology, students can earn a maximum of 6 academic credits (although only 4 credits count toward the Criminology major)
6. HOW DO STUDENTS REGISTER FOR INTERNSHIP/FIELD EXPERIENCE CREDITS DURING REGISTRATION?
Students cannot register themselves for internship/field experience credits. The Internship Coordinator will register students after they have been accepted into the program and a placement has been secured.
7. HOW DOES A STUDENT APPLY FOR THE INTERNSHIP/FIELD EXPERIENCE PROGRAM?
First, interested students should attend an information session. If students are unable to attend an information session, they should meet one-on-one with the Internship Coordinator. After an initial meeting, the student should complete the two-part application (details available on the main Internship page - https://csbs.uni.edu/sac/sac-internships).
While the application is under consideration and the student and Internship Coordinator are searching for a placement, the student can continue with the additional application requirements, including meeting with their advisor and attending the career services workshops.
8. HOW FAR AHEAD OF TIME DOES A STUDENT NEED TO APPLY FOR THE INTERNSHIP/FIELD EXPERIENCE PROGRAM?
A student typically needs to begin the application process several months in advance. Students interested in a Summer/Fall placement should start applying in late February/early March. Students interested in a Spring placement should apply in late October/early November.
While these target dates are generally true, some internships operate on a different schedule. Some competitive internships (especially those with the state and federal governments) begin the application process as much as six months in advance. In addition, some internships are more popular than others. Internship placements are generally filled in a first-come-first serve basis. So, popular internship sites tend to fill early.
Occasionally students discover later that they want to do an internship. It is possible to begin the process closer to the start of the semester. In these cases, many sites may already be full and an internship may not be secured.
9. DO STUDENTS HAVE TO KNOW WHERE THEY WANT TO INTERN BEFORE BEGINNING THE APPLICATION PROCESS?
No. The Internship Coordinator maintains a list of internship locations in the Cedar Valley (Cedar Falls, Waterloo, and surrounding area). If students don’t have an internship in mind, the Internship Coordinator will work with them to find a placement that fits their academic field and professional interests.
10. HOW DO STUDENTS TYPICALLY FIND INTERNSHIP PLACEMENTS?
The Internship Coordinator works closely with students to help them find placements in the Cedar Valley. The Internship Coordinator maintains a long list of internship placements in Cedar Falls, Waterloo, and the surrounding area. In addition, the Internship Coordinator maintains a list of some contacts in other communities in Iowa as well as surrounding states.
Alternatively, some students find internships on their own. Students may locate internship opportunities through family and friends as well as other professional contacts. If a student hears of an internship that seems like a good fit, it is okay for the student go ahead and apply.
Whether the student finds the internship on their own or with the help of the Internship Coordinator, the student is ultimately responsible for applying for and securing the internship. In addition to the application, most internships will require additional steps such as submitting a resume, completing an interview, undergoing a background check, etc. The internship site has full discretion on whether to hire an applicant.
11. ARE ALL STUDENTS WHO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS AUTOMATICALLY PLACED IN AN INTERNSHIP?
No. Placement is never guaranteed. The Internship Coordinator will work hard to find a placement for students. There are some circumstances, however, that make placements difficult. Students with inflexible schedules, criminal backgrounds, or no transportation can be very difficult to place. In addition, students who are only willing to consider one placement can be difficult to place. While the Internship Coordinator will try to work with the student to find a placement, a placement cannot be guaranteed.
12. IS IT POSSIBLE TO FIND AN INTERNSHIP PLACEMENT OUTSIDE OF CEDAR VALLEY?
Sometimes students are interested in interning at sites outside of the Cedar Valley (Cedar Falls, Waterloo, and the surrounding area). In recent semesters, students have had placements in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, and Sioux City. Beyond Iowa, students have also been placed in Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Colorado.
The Internship Coordinator has some contacts outside of the Cedar Valley, but the list is limited. In these cases, the student may have to do more research and apply to more locations to find a placement in their desired areas.
13. HOW DO STUDENTS ARRANGE TRANSPORTATION TO AN INTERNSHIP/FIELD EXPERIENCE SITE?
The student is responsible for arranging transportation to the site. The Internship Coordinator and the SAC department are unable to help with transportation. A student who does not have transportation may not be able to find a viable internship location.
14. HOW DOES A CRIMINAL RECORD AFFECT INTERNSHIP PLACEMENTS?
Most internships will inquire about an applicant’s criminal history. In addition, some sites will conduct formal background checks. In some cases, a criminal history can prevent placement. In other cases, a site may still consider a student. In all cases, it is important for the student to be upfront about their history with both the Internship Coordinator and the agency/organization during the application process. As long as the student is frank about their criminal history, the Internship Coordinator will work with the student to find a placement. In any case, placement cannot be guaranteed.
15. IS IT POSSIBLE TO DO AN INTERNSHIP WITHOUT ENROLLING FOR ACADEMIC CREDIT?
Yes. Sometimes students do not want to earn academic credit for an internship because they do not want to pay for a summer class, do not want to do the assignments for the course, or some other reason. In these cases, it is still possible to have a notation on a student's transcript that they have completed an internship. For more information on the option for a transcript notation, see the Career Services webpage: https://careerservices.uni.edu/internships-cooperative-education