(Click here for the last part of this series on Academic Internships, “Red Flags”)
Brian Frenette of Yale University thinks that “the size/scope of the company is not always the best sign, but the clarity in the role, the ability to have a mentoring relationship with one’s supervisor, and the ability to participate in real, substantive projects is very important when determining the ‘value’ of an internship program”.
Academic Internship Directors from UC San Diego and Cal State Fullerton echoed this statement, and had more tips:
1.Internship program supervisors should be people who care about the growth and development made by their interns and
2. Students should be heavily involved in relevant work, projects and assignments where they can use their skills as well as develop new ones.
First, the environment surrounding the internship should be conducive to learning. The employees and other interns involved should all be focused on the work at hand, assisting each other in order to do well. That is why having a responsible and receptive supervisor is important when our Areteem students are involved in our private school internships. The supervisor should frequently check in with interns to see how well they are doing and offer appropriate feedback and advice when necessary. That way, students will be able to connect more with their supervisors, working alongside each other similar to a mentor-mentee relationship.
The more meaningful projects the intern is involved in, the better. Students need to be challenged during “hands-on” experiences where they develop skills they may not have gained otherwise. Students will benefit from engaging more in their internships as they feel they will have accomplished something.
In the end, an internship program’s strengths rely on both the people and the actual work involved. Interning in professional environments allow students to see first-hand what having a “career” is like and ultimately be a rewarding experience where they may even establish some future contacts!
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By Cameron Yanoscik