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Communication Internship Guide

10-Step Internship Guide

COMMUNICATION AND ADVERTISING/PUBLIC RELATIONS MAJORS

Credits and Requirements: Communication (COM) majors and advertising and public relations (AD/PR) majors can participate in internships for credit (COM 354 Internship) or noncredit. If you choose noncredit, see Career Services for instructions. You do not need a faculty member’s supervision or the instructions below. If you choose to do an internship for credit, you must have junior or senior standing (at least 60 hours completed at time of registration) and a minimum 3.0 overall GPA. The next step is to choose the number of academic credit hours you would like to earn. You must work a minimum of 40 hours per semester per academic credit hour. During a typical internship, this works out to around 1 credit = 4 hrs/week, 2 credits = 8 hrs/week, 3 credits = 12 hrs/week, and 4 credits = 16 hrs/week. Also note that you must have room in your schedule in order to add an internship. For instance, if adding the internship would push your total credits over 18, you will either need to drop a class before the end of Drop/Add or contact Academic Advising for a credit overload before registering for the internship. If you do drop a class, please be sure to do so before the Drop/Add deadline or those hours will be included in your tuition bill. Once you submit your form, the registration process typically takes two to three days. But please be aware that it is your responsibility to confirm that the internship actually shows up on your schedule; if you don’t see COM 354, you will not get credit for it. Also note that you will be charged summer tuition rates for internships taken over the summer.

Fair Labor Standards for Unpaid Internships: An unpaid internship should be an educational experience that benefits the intern more than the host site. This is why the United States Department of Labor requires host sites to assign unpaid interns a range of interesting and challenging tasks, teach them transferable skills that can be applied in other contexts, and provide them with oversight and feedback based on helping students to establish and achieve their learning objectives. If this is not taking place at your internship, talk with Christopher Boulton, the faculty internship coordinator for communication and advertising/public relations majors. Your host site may need to either pay you for your work or increase the educational value of the experience.

Major Restrictions: Internships cannot be used to fulfill 300-or-above level requirements. Communication and advertising/public relations majors with general or public relations concentrations can count up to 4 internship credit hours toward the major and any additional internship credit hours toward general electives. Advertising/public relations majors with the advertising creative concentration can only count internship credit hours towards general electives.

Supervision: If you would like to earn college credit for your internship experience, you will need a full-time faculty supervisor. This guide is written from the perspective of Christopher Boulton, but please note that you may also request other communication department faculty to supervise your internship instead. If you would like Boulton to supervise your internship, please carefully follow the ten steps below.

WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOUR INTERNSHIP:

  1. Research internships already approved by UT or find your own.
    Students in the communication department looking for an internship should start by reading over Career Services' very helpful Student Internship Guide. Next steps would be searching HireUT on SpartanWeb, scheduling a 15-minute drop-in appointment with Career Services, contacting Kelly Allgeier, assistant director of internship programs and/or asking faculty members in your major. You might also employ your personal/professional network of contacts to approach a potential internship site on your own. If a site expresses interest, or even offers you an internship, you will need them to fill out an online Internship Request Form (IRF) in order for the internship to be considered and hopefully approved. If the internship host site has questions about this, please refer them to Career Services' equally helpful Employer Internship Guide.

  2. If necessary, apply for the internship.
    The host site will determine the criteria of what is required for the application, but a cover letter and CV (resume) are typical along with the occasional request for a work sample. In order to give yourself the best possible chance of getting hired for the internship, I recommend that you customize both your cover letter and CV for the host site and specific duties of the internship. In other words, try to emphasize which aspects of your own experience, talents and interests align most closely with the host site. At this stage you will also need to establish how many hours you intend to work per week.

  3. Determine your work hours and number of credits.
    Most internships are taken for either 2 or 4 credits. A typical 2-credit internship would require a minimum of 8 hours per week while a typical 4-credit internship would require a minimum of 16 hours per week. The choice of how many credits to register for is entirely up to you. However, do keep in mind that some internships have minimum work hour requirements. Thus, while the number of work hours should correspond with the number of credits that you register for at UT, do make sure that your work hours can also meet your host site's expectations.

  4. Complete a UT Internship Agreement.
    Once you are hired for the internship, you will need to download an Internship Agreement form, and then fill it out by entering your information into the empty cells of the PDF (note: Course Prefix and Number is COM 354). Then save the file to your own computer as YOURLASTNAME_internship_agreement.pdf, add all of your information, then save it again and email the PDF file to cboulton@ut.edu so I can sign it and send it along to the Registrar for processing. Your internship should then show up as part of your class schedule on your SpartanWeb account within a few days. Note: You must have space in your schedule in order for the registration to go through. If you already have 16 credits, you might consider a 2 credit internship so you don't have to petition for an overload (more than 18 credits). Also, keep in mind that registration must be completed within the first three weeks of the semester. Failing this, you will not be registered for the internship and will not receive credit for completing it.

    WHAT TO DO DURING AND AFTER YOUR INTERNSHIP:

  5. Start and establish a work schedule, learning objectives and evaluation methods.
    On the first day of your internship, find out who will be supervising or managing you. Then request a time to sit down with them to establish your weekly work schedule and a set of specific learning objectives that you hope to accomplish over the course of the internship. Finally, do your best to set up a reliable mechanism of evaluation, preferably in the form of monthly feedback from your internship host site manager. This is important, because in order to accomplish your learning objectives you will need a continuing process of on-site evaluation to help you succeed and reach that goal.

  6. Fill out the online Internship Intake Form within the first two weeks of your internship. 
    After you get settled in, go online to fill out the Internship Intake Form so that everyone (including you, me and your host site manager) can all be on the same page about the educational aspects (such as learning objectives and evaluation methods) of your internship. Make sure that your manager is aware that they are responsible for providing a final evaluation that is not simply based on your general performance but rather should be specifically oriented towards addressing your learning objectives. Note: At the end of your internship, I will send your manager an evaluation form to fill out and return to me (see step 10 below). 

  7. Show up, be on time, work hard and stick to it.
    An internship is an exercise in pre-professional training. Therefore, you will be expected to exhibit a professional attitude and work ethic throughout the experience. Plan to always be on time and complete your work assignments as expected. Remember, you are not just representing yourself; you are also representing UT. Therefore, withdrawal from an internship is strongly discouraged. Not only will it reflect poorly on you and the University of Tampa, but it will also jeopardize your classmates’ chances of securing a future internship with that host site. If, despite all this, you still wish to withdraw from your internship, you must first notify and seek permission from me. Failing to do so will result in an “Unsatisfactory” grade for that particular internship course and make you ineligible for any future internships through the Department of Communication. If any conflicts or problems arise during your internship, it is your responsibility to inform me in a timely manner, so that the situation might be remedied as soon as possible.

  8. Submit a Mid-term Report.
    Halfway through your internship (no earlier than six weeks in and no later than eight weeks in) you will need to email me a one to two page midterm report of your internship experience thus far. This report should provide specific examples and address the following five areas: 

    1. the company’s founding, mission statement, product, clients/customers, and number of employees and departments;

    2. your internship duties/responsibilities, the kinds of projects are you working on and people you are working with;

    3. any skills or insights gained relevant to your learning objectives and major and/or career goals;

    4. problems or challenges you’ve had and what you’ve done to solve them; and

    5. the amount and quality of supervision, feedback and evaluation you are getting from your host-site manager.

     
  9. Submit a Final Report
    At the end of your internship or during the last week of the semester (whichever comes first), you will need to write up and email me a two to three page reflection on your experience that provides an overall evaluation of your host site as well as a demonstration of what you learned using specific examples. Therefore, I would strongly recommend that you keep an ongoing journal throughout your internship, so you will have plenty of material at-the-ready when it comes time to write your final report. In your remarks, be sure to answer the following 10 questions: 

    1. What were your major accomplishments in terms of projects completed and/or goals reached? 

    2. Which of your learning objectives did you achieve and how? 

    3. What were the biggest challenges you faced and how did you overcome them? 

    4. Which aspects of your academic preparation (particular classes, professors, student organizations, etc.) were most helpful during your internship? 

    5. How might the Department of Communication better prepare students to be successful interns? 

    6. What did your host site teach you (equipment/software, teamwork, specialized vocabulary, etc.) that you didn’t already know? 

    7. What are the most valuable lessons that you will take away from this internship? 

    8. How has this internship helped prepare you to enter the work world? 

    9. Would you recommend your internship site to other UT students? Why or why not? And, finally, 

    10. Do you think this particular internship or UT’s Department of Communication Internship Program in general could be improved for next time? If so, what changes would you recommend? 

     
  10. Remind your host site manager to submit their evaluation.
    Towards the end of your internship, I will send your host site manager an evaluation form. Please remind them to complete it. Send it to me before the end of the semester, so you can earn academic credit for your internship experience. The evaluation contains the following questions: 

    1. What were the intern’s major accomplishments in terms of projects completed and/or goals reached? 

    2. Which of their learning objectives were achieved and how? 

    3. What were the biggest challenges the intern faced, and how did the intern overcome them? 

    4. What did you teach the intern (equipment/software, teamwork, specialized vocabulary, etc.) that intern didn't already know? 

    5. How might The University of Tampa better prepare our students to be successful interns? 

     

Grading Policies

Remember that taking an internship for credit is like taking a class. The only difference is that the work takes place off-campus, and the grading is pass/fail ("satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory"). In other words, yes, you can fail an internship. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the grading policies of your internship course, please consult this guide carefully (along with the linked resources) and, if you are still confused, contact me directly at cboulton@ut.edu.

Report Guidelines

Both reports should include a title page with your name, academic semester, and the name and address of the company, along with the name and contact information of your host site manager. The report should be typed, double-spaced, numbered and have been carefully edited for spelling, grammar, syntax, etc. Email your reports to me at cboulton@ut.edu.

Calculating Your Final Grade

At the end of the semester, based on your midterm report (20%), final report (40%) and your internship host site manager’s evaluation (40%), I will submit a grade for your internship of either “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.” Please take care to ensure that both you and your host site submit these assignments to me before the deadlines noted above. If I do not receive either your final report or your host site manager’s evaluation by the end of term in which the internship takes place, you will automatically receive a grade of “unsatisfactory." Should you wish to request an extension or "incomplete," it is up to you to propose an alternative arrangement with me in advance of the end of the term.