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Supervising Your Intern - Topics to Consider

Faculty Sponsor Responsibilities

Before the Internship

  • Verify the student is a major in your department and has met any specific departmental internship guidelines
  • Review the student’s internship job description as presented the Learning Agreement to ensure it qualifies as a learning opportunity within your discipline
  • Assist the student in developing realistic learning objectives. Discuss how their learning objectives will be used as the basis for assignments and for determining their final grade
  • Establish measurable internship learning outcomes
  • Identify specific academic assignments, grading rubric, and due dates
  • Establish a regular meeting pattern (in person, phone, and email)
  • Designate a course title
  • Designate the type of grading (letter grade or pass/fail). Some departments have strict policies about types of grading allowed for internships
  • Review and sign Internship Learning Agreement via electronic signature through the Handshake​ system.

During the Internship

  • Maintain regular contact with student intern(s) to ensure they are making appropriate progress toward meeting their learning goals and objectives
  • Communicate, as needed, with site supervisor. Visit sites when deemed appropriate. Internship Advisors are also available to assist you in arranging a site visit
  • Identify any problems as they arise. Contact an internship advisor at the Experiential Learning Center to assist in mediating/resolving issues
  • Evaluate all academic assignments and provide feedback to help the student integrate theory and practice

End of the Internship

  • Review performance evaluation from site supervisor (provided via email from the ELC)
  • Review final projects and collect intern’s time log
  • Determine final grade

The Internship Learning Agreement

The Internship Learning Agreement is completed by the student in collaboration with the faculty sponsor and site supervisor. The Agreement serves several purposes, which include:

  • To provide a framework or structure for the internship experience
  • To document the intern’s work duties, learning goals, and academic assignments
  • To serve as a reminder to all parties (student, supervisor, and faculty sponsor) of the purpose, activities, and responsibilities of each party
  • To outline the conditions for academic credit and to confirm the experience is worthy of University credit
  • To provide a basis for evaluation and validation of the learning experience

An internship learning agreement is required for all internship placements and must be signed by all parties (student, employer, faculty, internship advisor) prior to the beginning of the internship. Students must submit their Learning Agreement to their internship advisor through the Handshake​ system in order to enroll in an internship course. A copy of the Learning Agreement is provided to the student, employer, and faculty sponsor. The original is kept on file at the Experiential Learning Center.

Learning Objectives

Learning objectives describe clearly and precisely what the student intends to accomplish during the internship. The learning objectives reinforce classroom learning by focusing on specific skills, information, and applications related to the student’s major and career goals. The faculty sponsor assists the student in developing appropriate learning objectives that serve to shape and deepen the student’s learning. It may also be appropriate to identify learning outcomes associated with your department’s assessment plan.

We recommend students have 3 – 5 measurable learning objectives. Each objective should contain a statement of what the student expects to achieve through their work experience. Some examples include: to gain a working knowledge of the company budget process, to become proficient in the implementation of the employee benefits program, to learn new counseling techniques, etc. Objectives can involve skill acquisition, knowledge integration, personal and professional development.

Academic Assignments

Following are examples of academic assignments to consider using that will assist your student in reflecting on his/her experience and integrate academic knowledge.

Daily / Weekly Journal or Log
Journals help students to consciously reflect on their work, integrate their experience, and recognize what they are learning. Students record activities, impressions, new skills, professional relationships, and areas of growth.

Midterm Progress Reports
The progress report summarizes how well the student is moving toward achieving his/her learning objectives and academic assignments. It is also an avenue to address any difficulties the student may be having.

Assigned Readings and Annotated Bibliography
Assign relevant readings that will help your intern deepen his/her academic and professional learning. Reading examples include: professional publications, newsletters from professional associations, academic journals, etc.

Portfolios illustrate what the student has learned and how he/she has contributed to the organization. Portfolios include: samples of work, photographs, videos, reports, interview transcripts, certificates of training, reference letters, and other documentation that illustrate skills and knowledge.

Internship Presentation
Students present their internship experience to a group of faculty or students explaining their duties, academic integration, skills, professional development, etc. This type of assignment can encourage other students to participate in internships. Some employer sites also provide opportunities for students to present at professional conferences and associations.

Term Paper
Students integrate the internship experience with one or more topics related to specific courses or academic interests. Researched references are cited to support conclusions. The topics should be selected by the student and faculty sponsor and listed as part of the academic component on the Learning Agreement.

Final Reflective Report
A Final Reflective Report addresses many different aspects of the student’s internship:

  • A thorough review of the learning objectives with a description of how well the student was able to achieve each objective
  • A brief description of the organization's history, function, products, or services
  • Strengths and weaknesses the student discovered about his or her self as a result of the experience. Possible steps the student can take to address weaknesses and apply strengths
  • A discussion of a problem the student had to solve during the internship
  • A workplace conflict either observed or experienced, with a description of how the student dealt with the conflict
  • A reflection on how the internship affected the student’s attitude about self, career decisions, and educational choices

Internship Placement Issues

Internships and other off-campus learning activities may involve additional problems, risks, or hazards to students, and may create liability for the University. The Experiential Learning Center staff will assist faculty sponsors with any difficulties, threats, or problems their interns may face.

Internship Placement Difficulties
Occasionally internship placements do not work out. If a student experiences problems at any time during the course of the internship, he/she must notify the faculty sponsor and internship advisor immediately by phone or email. An alternative placement may be arranged in the event the student feels the internship is inappropriate or if difficulties arise that create undue problems for the agency or the student.

  • If an employer creates an untenable situation for the student (unethical, illegal, or dangerous situation or environment), the Experiential Learning Center director will investigate the situation. In consultation with the faculty sponsor, the student may be removed from the internship and the University may sever the relationship with the organization.
  • If a student fails to fulfill his/her internship duties, the faculty sponsor will determine academic consequences and the internship advisor will work with the organization to salvage the relationship. If appropriate, the internship advisor will attempt to find another intern for the employer.
  • If an organization chooses to terminate a student’s internship placement for cause, the site supervisor must disclose the reason to the student, the faculty sponsor, and/or internship advisor. The faculty sponsor will determine academic consequences.

Colorado State Law indicates that students enrolled in credit-bearing internships shall be covered under a college or university Workers Compensation Plan if the intern is not receiving remuneration. Internship advisors provide instructions for unpaid students to follow in the event of a workplace injury. Paid interns are covered under the employer’s Workers Comp.

Hold-Harmless Agreements and Other Contracts
Employers may ask students to sign various types of documents including: release/assumption of risk statements, non-disclosure statements, non-competing statements, and other contracts. Please advise students not to sign any documents they do not understand. Internship advisors serve as advocates for students and will assist them in understanding the implications of such statements. Internship advisors routinely contact employers for clarification.

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