Internships can serve a variety of purposes for a student. It can help them explore careers and types of work, build professional experiences, or apply what they’ve learned in the classroom in a “real-world” setting. At Illinois State University, some majors and minors require an internship.
Internships are considered a high-impact practice. High-impact practices were identified by higher education scholar George Kuh. Using data from the National Survey of Student Engagement, he identified several activities that a student can experience during their time in college that have a positive impact on student engagement and development. Effective internships address several key characteristics of high impact practices:
Students apply what they have learned in the classroom.
Students reflect on the experiences they are having.
Students build a mentoring relationship with internship supervisor or other organization staff.
Students are exposed to different people and ways of thinking.
Students clarify their values, interests, and goals related to career (O’Neill, 2010).
Here are a few things to consider as you recruit interns.
Career Services manages the Illinois Cooperative Work Study Program. This grant is for paid internships and reimburses non-profit organizations for up to 50% of the intern’s wages (40% for for-profit organizations). If you offer paid internships and would be interested in participating in this grant, contact Megan Patterson.
Each department at Illinois State approaches internships differently. The internship coordinator role in an academic department can vary. While some departments have dedicated staff to guide students through the internship experience, other departments have a faculty member that supports interns in addition to their teaching load. As such, you may experience different expectations of documentation and communication from the academic department.
Tips for managing interns:
Internship supervisors serve as a co-educator helping the student to learn and make meaning of their internship experience. Ask the student and/or department contact for learning outcomes or other documents to contextualize the experience they want the student to have.
Have a weekly 1:1 or status meeting, even if it is only 15 minutes.
Provide opportunities for the intern to observe other parts of the organization such as attending staff meetings or meeting with other staff.
Provide feedback on intern performance via informal conversations and formal evaluation. Departments may provide specific documents and time frames to complete performance appraisals. For example, consider this mid-term evaluation and this final evaluation.
Ask the intern to provide 2-3 personal goals they would like to achieve as a result of the internship experience. Periodically revisit the goals to see how they are progressing and to create an opportunity for the intern to reflect on their experience. See this sample document to help map your intern's goals.
The Center partnered with Career Services in March 2022 to offer community partner organizations a virtual workshop on internship description creation as well as intern recruitment and supervision. The workshop can be viewed on YouTube via the video below.