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Internship FAQs

Let Knowledge Serve the City!

The internship experience is a very popular program offered by the Urban Honors College.  Each quarter, participating students spend 8 to 20 hours each week gaining real world experience and exploring their academic and professional goals.  The Portland area is bursting with excellent internship opportunities for students from all academic disciplines; past students have interned with Oregon Health & Science University, Mercy Corps, and on the set of Portlandia.  Students have also found internship positions in other cities, states, and countries! 

What is an internship?

Do I have to do an internship for credit?

When should I plan to do an internship?

When should I start my internship search?

How many credits can I earn?

What are the grading policies for internships?

What is the role of the internship supervisor?

What is expected of me during the internship?

How can I make the most out of my internship?

What assistance is available from the Honors College? 

What are the 2014/2015 Deadlines for Internship Applications?

What is an internship?

Often referred to as "experiential learning," an internship is an opportunity to go outside the classroom to gain real-world experience in a professional work environment. Internships can be an important aspect of your career exploration and development, and can offer the opportunity to gain the professional experience your future employers want to see on a resume. 

There is sometimes a fine line between an internship, a volunteer position, and unpaid labor.  An internship should:

  • involve training similar to that which you would find in an educational setting
  • result in general experience that can be applied to any work opportunity within that field, rather than training for a specific position within that organization
  • not entail job duties that would normally be carried out by a paid employee
  • be directly related to your academic and professional goals.

Volunteer opportunities are also valuable for your personal and professional development, but unlike an intern, a volunteer is donating his or her time without expectation of receiving professional training or compensation.

To qualify for credit with the Urban Honors College, an internship should involve the performance of meaningful tasks for the organization in which you have been placed. Typically, you are expected to perform some type of project, research, or administrative task that can be tied to your academic or professional goals.  The host organization should include training and regular supervision to contribute to your learning experience.  The Honors College retains the right to determine the suitability of internship positions for course credit.  If you are unsure if your proposed internship meets the definition of an acceptable internship, please contact the Honors Internship Coordinator.

Positions that are primarily clerical in nature are not acceptable internship experiences for Honors credit.  While learning how a professional organization operates may be a valuable component of your internship experience, your position should not involve routine or repetitive administrative tasks, such as filing or copying paperwork, more than 30% of the time.  You should not displace regular employees, or being the “on-site expert.”   

Do I have to do an internship for credit?

No! Many Honors students have found internships to be a valuable experience, but you are not required to complete an internship for credit in order to graduate. Of your 12 Junior Honors credits, you are required to take between 4 and 12 credits of junior seminars. You may earn between 4 and 8 credits through an internship or research position.

When should I plan to do an internship?

Many students find that they are academically and professionally ready to undertake an internship during their junior year.  The only prerequisite for the internship experience is completion of the sophomore Honors requirements.  Sophomores may enroll with prior approval from the Director of Urban Honors.  You may earn up to eight internship credits to help fulfill your Junior Year requirements.

When should I start my internship search?

Early! It may take time to find an internship that will fit in with your academic and professional goals. Honors Internships must include either a research component or a project that will significantly help to develop your professional expertise. You may also need time to update your resume and cover letter, develop interview skills, etc.  Students should meet with the Honors Internship Coordinator, Jane Marie Ford, at least one term prior to applying for an Honors Internship. 

How many credits can I earn?

Credits are determined by the number of weekly hours you commit to the internship experience.  To receive credit from Urban Honors, you must work 8 to 10 hours per week for the duration of the 10-week quarter to earn 4 credits, and at least 20 hours per week to earn 8 credits.

What are the grading policies for internships?

Students registered for Honors 404 will also participate in an online course via D2L.  Responsibilities may include participation in online discussions, submitting weekly hours, and reflection papers.  Your internship supervisor will also submit a midterm and final evaluation of your performance.  All assignments will be outlined in the course syllabus.

What is the role of the internship supervisor?

The internship supervisor is the member of the sponsoring organization who is responsible for supervising your work. They will provide you with day-to-day direction, and evaluate your work. Your internship supervisor will be asked to complete a final evaluation of your performance to help provide both you and the Honors College with valuable feedback on the experience.

As in any other type of job, you are expected to fulfill the expectations of your internship supervisor. The primary exception to this is if the supervisor strays from the original internship proposal, and/or uses a student solely for clerical work or in some other inappropriate manner. If any questions or concerns arise, please contact Jane Marie Ford or Dr. Fallon as soon as possible.

What is expected of me during the internship?

Students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner in their internship. This means that they arrive at their work when scheduled, they dress appropriately, they follow directions, and they interact with others in a positive manner. Moreover, students are expected to abide at all times by the ethical standards of the university and the organization in which they are placed. Students who conduct themselves in an unprofessional or unethical manner face a failing grade and/or appropriate disciplinary action.  The PSU Student Code of Conduct is available here.

Students who are selected as interns enter into their positions as representatives of Portland State University and of the Urban Honors College. Internships are not only beneficial to students, but to the sponsoring organization as well. If a student proves incapable of performing his or her job at a certain level of competence and in a professional manner, it could lead to a situation in which the sponsoring organization refuses to accept future interns from Honors. For these reasons, Honors has instituted some restrictions on who is eligible to enter the internship program. This section explains the policies on eligibility and course credit.

How can I make the most out of my internship?

Before you begin your internship, set personal and professional goals and objectives so you have a learning focus during your internship. Identify a mentor at your internship organization and check in with him or her on a regular basis. When you are finished with a task, ask what you can do next. Be sure to take notes when receiving instructions for assignments, and don’t hesitate to ask questions about an assignment you don’t understand. Stay positive and be a team player no matter what the task.  Communicate in a professional manner, no matter how short the email or casual the topic.  The Honors Internship Coordinator is available to meet with you if you’d like to discuss specific questions or challenges about your internship experience. 

What assistance is available from the Honors College?

The Honors College is available to…

  • provide guidance on your resume and cover letter, or refer you to Advising & Career Services for additional assistance.
  • equip you with resources and suggestions to guide your internship search.
  • review and provide guidance on your internship proposal and learning outcomes.
  • give support and advice during the course of your internship experience.
  • provide funding to help cover specific costs associated with your internship

The Honors College does not…

  • write your resume or cover letter for you.
  • “place” you at an internship.
  • write your learning outcomes.

What are the 2014/2015 Deadlines for Internship Applications?

Fall 2014: Friday, September 5th

Winter 2015: Monday, December 1st

Spring 2015: Friday, March 6th

Applications received after these dates may not be eligible for credit.  Please contact the Honors Internship Coordinator at jafo2@pdx.edu if you run into any issues.

Best of luck in your internship endeavors!