Exercise Science Internship Information
Are you ready for the internship?
If you answer NO to any of the following questions, you’re probably not ready to start the exercise science internship and should see your academic advisor or speak with the division internship coordinator.
Will you have completed all of the required courses by the term you want to do the internship?
- YES Keep reading.
- NO See your advisor and set up a plan for completion.
Have you identified your career goals and interest beyond graduation?
- YES Keep reading.
- NOCheck out the links on the Service Learning and Career Development website to see some of the career possibilities with an exercise science degree.
Do you have an idea of potential places where you want to intern?
- YES Make an appointment with the internship coordinator TWO terms in advance to the term you want to intern.
- NOTime to Google! For example, if you think you might want to be an athletics coach, Google something like “athletic coach near me” and see what organizations come up.
The information on this page is designed to help maximize your internship experience in exercise science. This experience is intended to be a partnership between you, your internship site, and the Division of Health and Exercise Science at Western Oregon University.
Through participation in an internship, you learn to apply academic learning in a professional setting, perform work related to your career interests, receive supervision and training, and assess the possibilities of permanent employment. The internship experience provides an opportunity to bridge the gap between theory and practice and offer opportunities to be employed in entry level positions or to gain experience to enhance your admittance to graduate school.
In select circumstances, you may receive some financial compensation for internship work. However, reimbursement agreements must be directly between you and your internship site. Our division is not in a position to negotiate payment for you.
Western Oregon University students have the potential to leave our institution competent and capable of beginning a fulfilling and successful career in exercise or sports science. After completing the internship, we expect you’ll be able to:
- Plan effective exercise interventions based on assessment of individual, environmental, and task constraints, and on assessment of interactions among constraints.
- Implement and evaluate strategies, interventions, and programs.
- Demonstrate professional development and advocate for research-based practices within exercise science.
The internship program allows you to demonstrate that you are capable of applying academic competencies in a professional setting. Specifically, the internship will provide the opportunity to:
- Gain an understanding and appreciation of the roles, duties, and the responsibilities of full-time professionals in exercise science, health and fitness industry, and allied health occupations.
- See the work of professional organizations and agencies.
- Participate in activities on the local, state, and national levels.
- Take on leadership opportunities.
- Observe and participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation of programs within various agencies and organizations.
- Establish professional contacts and references.
For an internship to be approved, the internship and internship site should:
- Be community-based. In other words, the organization should be local and focused on working with individuals and groups in the same community where they’re located.
- Have someone who is trained in exercise and sports.
- Be related to exercise, sports science and/or an allied health field.
- Result in a tangible product.
- Incorporate exercise science methods, such as:
- Exercise education (e.g. presentations, conferences, classes, etc.)
- Exercise communication
- Planning and implementing fitness programs
- Assessment and evaluation
- Case studies
- Fitness classes
- Sports or exercise coaching
Before Your Internship
The following items should be completed before you start your internship.
Complete required exercise science courses
The required courses are:
- EXS 230: Foundations of Exercise Science
- EXS 310W: Motor Learning
- EXS 371: Kinesiology
- EXS 373: Physiology of Exercise
- EXS 444: Adapted Physical Activity
- EXS 470: Sociological and Psychological Aspects of Physical Activity
- EXS 483W: Biomechanics
- EXS 485: Exercise Testing and Prescription
Meet with the division internship coordinator
The division internship coordinator is Janet Roberts. Janet can help you find and approve internships. You should contact Janet at least two terms before registering for EXS 498 (the exercise science internship course).
Attend the first mandatory internship meeting
An initial internship meeting is held each term during the week of registration. You should plan on attending the meeting the term prior to the term of your internship. In most cases, you should know where you will be doing your internship before the meeting. Registration overrides to register for EXS 498 will be submitted at this meeting.
|If your internship is in…||You should attend the meeting in…|
Check your WOU email regularly for the specific date, time, and location of the meeting.
Complete required forms
The forms below must be completed and turned in to the division internship coordinator before you can start your internship. After clicking on the links, you’ll be prompted to make a copy of the google doc so you can start to fill it in.
- Student Internship Agreement (Google Doc): Should be signed by the student and the division internship coordinator.
- Internship Learning Objectives (Google Doc): Should be signed by the student, site supervisor, and the division internship coordinator. See below for objective tips and examples.
NOTE: All internship sites need a university affiliation agreement. The internship coordinator will complete this form but for sites without an existing affiliation agreement in place, this may be a time-consuming process so please communicate with the internship coordinator as early as possible.
Objective Tips and Examples
Tips for Writing Objectives
A well-formulated objective:
- Specifies a single key result to be accomplished.
- Specifies a target date or timeframe for its accomplishment.
- Is readily understandable by those who will be contributing to its attainment.
- Is realistic and attainable, but still represents a significant change.
- Is consistent with the resources available or anticipated.
- Is consistent with organizational policies and practices.
- Develop a news release by the end of the month.
- Design and implement three health education interventions for the target population by the end of the year.
- Attend four board meetings this fall.
Attend the second mandatory internship meeting
This is when you’ll turn in your required forms and go over remaining internship instructions. The second mandatory internship meeting will be held the first week of classes. Check your WOU email regularly for meeting information, date, time, and location.
During Your Internship
The following list should be completed during your internship. This is not a comprehensive list – more information about requirements will be available in the internship class.
Keep a detailed daily log of your internship experience
The daily log should reflect what you’ve learned and experienced at the site and how this relates to your coursework and career goals. You’ll submit the daily log online as part of the EXS 498 course weekly or every other week. Open the Daily Log (Google Sheet). You will be prompted to make a copy of the sheet.
You need to spend at least 120 hours at the internship site over the course of the term.
Work on your tangible product(s)
The tangible product(s) are a unique contribution to your internship site or to an existing site program. The product or project should be left with the site and a copy submitted with your final internship materials.
Examples of tangible products include:
- Educational materials (presentations, handouts, brochures, bulletin boards, etc.)
- Case studies
- Group or individual fitness classes with handouts for participants
- Coaching and training materials
- Assessment and evaluation of fitness programs
Last Week of Your Internship
The following list should be completed when you are close to finishing your internship. This is not a comprehensive list – more information about requirements will be available in the internship class.
Send thank you letter
Send a thank you letter to the site supervisor at the end of your internship or shortly following completion.
Complete performance evaluation
Both you and your site supervisor will complete an evaluation of your performance in the internship. Separate links will be emailed to you and your site supervisor starting week 8 of the term (week 5 for summer term). The professional skills and exercise science competencies you’ll be evaluated on are below. Completion of this survey is part of your internship grade.
General Professional Skills
- Display appropriate level of confidence in professional abilities.
- Ability to effectively communicate orally.
- Ability to effectively communicate in writing.
- Ability to effectively utilize and apply knowledge.
- Ability to analyze problems and effectively problem solve.
- Ability to develop a professional network (within the agency and community).
- Ability to meet deadlines.
- Ability to work beyond minimum expectations.
- Ability to accept feedback.
- Ability to maintain appropriate professional appearance and attitude.
- Ability to interact appropriately with all audiences (clients and colleagues).
- Display an interest in the operations of the agency.
Exercise Science Competencies
- Apply appropriate qualitative and quantitative measurement and analysis techniques in assessment of constraints and constraint interactions.
- Determine intervention outcomes based on constraint and interaction assessment.
- Demonstrate effective manipulation of individual, environmental and task constraints in intervention development.
- Select and implemented intervention components appropriate to a diverse range of individuals and groups.
- Apply interventions using a diverse range of equipment, facilities, resources, and methods.
- Assess effectiveness of a diverse range of individual and group interventions.
- Effectively communicate findings and recommendations for future practice to multiple audiences.
- Develop a personal plan for professional development.
- Use oral, electronic, and written techniques to communicate effectively with a diverse range of audiences.
- Retrieve and evaluate research-based information from a variety of resources.
- Develop and communicate research and content knowledge-based positions relative to critical questions in exercise science.
- Demonstrate professional skills and ethics appropriate within the field.
Complete a reflection on your internship experience
The reflection on your internship experience should be approximately 5 pages (double-spaced).
Use the following outline when writing your reflection.
- Overview: Provide an overview of what you did during your internship. Include information about your internship site, including the site’s mission, how the site contributes to health in the community, and the extent to which the organization is working to achieve that mission.
- Objectives: List your personal internship objectives and your internship site objectives (from the internship objectives form you completed before starting your internship). Also include the degree to which you feel you accomplished these objectives.
- Professional Growth: Explain how your internship experience has contributed to your professional growth and how you’ve redefined your professional goals as a result. Also describe any problems you encountered during your internship and how they were solved (or could have been solved).
- Skills and Competencies: Explain the skills or competencies you used in your internship, including those you felt prepared to use and those you felt unprepared to use. Describe any new skills you have developed through the experience.
- Challenges and Rewards: Describe the experiences that challenged you the most and those that gave you the most satisfaction.
- Future: Explain how you think your internship experience will impact your future.
- Demonstrates an open, non-defensive ability to self-appraise, examine personal experiences, and discuss both growth and frustrations.
- Articulates multiple connections between this learning experience and course material, content from other courses, past learning, life experiences and/or future goals.
- Addresses all sections of the provided outline in sufficient detail.
- Includes clear and detailed examples.
- Viewpoints and interpretations are insightful and well supported.
- Well-written and free of grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
Answers to common questions about the exercise science internship
How do I register for the internship?
You will need a registration overrides to register for the internship. These overrides are submitted at the first mandatory internship meeting, which is held during registration week every term. Once the override has been entered for you, you’ll register for the internship the same way you register for other classes through the WOU Portal.
Do I pay tuition for internship credits?
Yes. Internship credits count the same as other classes. This means you pay normal tuition and fees.
How and when should I contact the division internship coordinator?
Staying in close contact with the internship coordinator during your Junior and Senior years is recommended as you will be more aware of the internship opportunities available to you.
Meeting with the internship coordinator face to face is required two terms in advance. The internship must be approved, and the paperwork must be filled out before starting your internship. The current division internship coordinator is Janet Roberts. You can call or email to make an appointment.
What should I consider when selecting an internship?
Ask yourself the following questions.
- What do I want to learn from the internship?
- What skills do I have, and how can I contribute to an agency?
- Is it located in a community with which I am already somewhat familiar?
- Is it located where I might be able to stay with friends or relatives to reduce costs?
- Is the environment of the site, and travel to and from the site, safe?
- Does the internship represent the type of setting in which I would eventually like to be employed?
- Is it located in a community large enough to likely contain significant employment options into which I might network?
- Is it located in an area of the country where I would like to live?
For information on the requirements for an approved internship, see internship criteria.
Where can I find an internship?
Some possible steps for finding internships are below.
- Talk with the division internship coordinator about available internships.
- Visit the Service Learning and Career Development Center for help in finding additional resources for finding internships.
- Review sites listed at the website and contact the person or agency listed to make an appointment.
- Talk to previous students or classmates about their internship experiences. You can see what some of our students have done for their internship on the HEXS blog.
- Call agencies or organizations and ask about available internship opportunities.
- Connect with any volunteer agency, local or state health department, etc. where previous volunteer experience has been given.
How should I approach an organization to ask about an internship?
After you’ve done some brainstorming and generated a list of agencies where you might like to intern, follow the steps below.
- Find the name and contact information of the program manager or director. This is usually listed on the organization’s website.
- Call or email this person and ask to set up an appointment to meet to discuss potential internships.
- Before the meeting, do some background research to learn more about the agency, what they do, who they serve, etc. Again, this information is probably on the organization’s website though it may also be on social media.
- During the interview, articulate what you want to learn in your internship, what your skills are, and how you can contribute to the organization. Also be prepared to discuss possible internship objectives and tangible products to be produced in order for the proposed internship to be evaluated and approved by the division internship coordinator.
Do not wait until the last minute to contact agencies. Start exploring options for internships at least two terms before you want to start.
Can I be “fired” from my internship?
Yes, though it’s rare. If your work performance does not meet the established reasonable standards, the internship site is not obligated to keep you as an intern.
Discharge may be for one of several nondiscriminatory reasons such as:
- Unsatisfactory performance
- Irregular attendance
- Inability to perform expected tasks
- Habitual tardiness
- Unsatisfactory attitude
- Improper behavior
- Lack of dependability
- Damaging relationships between the agency and its partners, etc.
The circumstances that led to a student being discharged should be carefully documented and reviewed by both the site supervisor and the division internship coordinator. As a safeguard for all parties, the case should be referred to the Division Chair, Dean, and if deemed appropriate, legal counsel.
If you are terminated without adequate warning: Immediately contact the division internship coordinator and be prepared with the following information:
- Your city and state location
- The name of the site where you are interning
- Your immediate site supervisor’s name
- The phone number for your site supervisor
- A full explanation of the possible reasons for the impending or immediate termination
The division internship coordinator reserves the right to contact the site supervisor for reasons including checking in on student progress, solving problems, determining the value of the internship, providing input, and explaining expectations.