For more information, see Business instructor Michael Martin’s webpage
Internships are structured work experiences that directly expose students to jobs and careers in the field of business. They can be paid or unpaid. In either case, college credit is granted to interns who successfully meet the requirements. College credit is only a part of the reason for getting involved in an internship.
Internships can be an important part of a business or economics education. They provide opportunities to apply what you have learned in the classroom and to explore careers that interest you. An internship is more than just a job because you get to work with professionals on a one-to-one basis. At the very least, an internship enables you to make better career decisions because of the direct contact in the field, but many students use their internships to help them obtain paid employment after graduation.
There are three key requirements for a business or economics internship. You must be a currently enrolled WOU student in good standing in your junior or senior year of studies. Finally, you must be willing to represent Western Oregon University in a positive manner. Interns are expected to conduct themselves professionally with all outside contacts.
Interns are expected to work a total of 30 hours for every one unit of college credit. Therefore a 3 credit internship would consist of 90 hours of on site work. In addition there will be outside academic assignments such as writing a paper or keeping a journal. Students may apply up to 12 internship credits toward their degree.
- Consult with a business or economics faculty internship advisor for advice, tips, and direction.
- Find an employer willing to sponsor an internship. Unpaid internships are more prevalent than paid internships. Securing an internship may require student initiative and creativity.
- Meet with the faculty internship advisor to clarify outside assignments, determine the number of credit hours, and methods of evaluation. Work contracts are available in the Division of Business and Economics Office. PLEASE NOTE: The deadline for turning in signed internship paperwork to the Registrar’s office is the Friday before classes begin each term.
- Register for BA 409 or EC 409, observing WOU’s deadlines for the term that the course will be taken.
- Complete the internship. Bring closure to the course by completing all outside assignments to the satisfaction of the faculty adviser.
Internships are evaluated by the faculty adviser at the end of the term. The Division of Business and Economics policy is to accept credit for internships on a Pass/No Credit basis. In evaluating the internship, the faculty advisor may take into consideration all or any combination of the following means of assessment:
- An internship journal analyzing professional experiences, skills learned or applied, the application of theory, related readings, and personal reactions.
- A paper relating the internship experience to the student’s business studies. In general, 2 to 3 pages is required for each credit hour, but the final decision is at the discretion of the faculty internship adviser.
- A portfolio of materials developed during the internship.
- An evaluation of work performance by the site supervisor.
Here are a few ideas on where to look for internships:
- Career Services. Located in the Werner University Center, Service Learning and Career Services maintains a clearinghouse of numerous ongoing internships. They have a professional staff and a variety of materials to assist students in finding an internship. They also sponsor internship workshops each term. You should start your search here.
- The Business & Economics Bulletin Board. Located in the first floor hallway of West House.
- Present employers. You might propose additional work that is relevant to an internship with your present employer.
- Business contacts. Personal acquaintances who work in business may know how you can arrange an internship. Exploring your contacts is known as networking.
- Student proposed internship. You can identify companies that meet your work experience needs and develop a proposal that targets specific types of work assignments they are capable of offering. If you have to “cold call” a potential internship employer it often helps to have a specific idea of how you can help the company.
WOU’s business and economics graduates agree that internships are an important part of a well rounded education. In a survey of recent graduates, 77% recommended that an internship should be a required part of the major. Many participants at a recent Alumni Night event noted that their college internships led directly to their current jobs.