An internship is a practical learning experience outside the confines of Southeast Missouri State University to provide students a first hand preview of the professional world of work she or he hopes to enter following graduation.
Some students intern to learn more about particular aspects of the career they wish to enter; others intern to apply theory learned in the classroom to an actual work situation, others intern because they believe an internship may lead directly to a job within a company. While the latter reason seems practical, you should be aware that most companies do not use internships as screening mechanisms for their employee pool.
Whether engaged in an internship or a practicum, you are treated as a quasi-employee. You are assigned specific tasks to accomplish. You contribute ideas and accomplishments that will aid an organization, and you are allowed to observe various operations of professionals in a relatively non-threatening manner. Generally, your activities are under the direct guidance of a single working professional; but a University faculty member oversees your progress, counsels you on your work, and assigns academic credit for your experience.
While internships exist throughout the nation, where you intern will depend on your particular interest, opportunities in your community, and ties that you or the Department of Communication Studies have with various companies. Most students want to intern near the University; however, in some circumstances the student may choose a distant location which requires moving away from campus.
Southeast will permit students to intern throughout the year, although some experiences are available only during specific periods (e.g., summer).
Because they involve a rather heavy time commitment, internships are best taken by students having proven certain academic competencies and during a semester or session when students may be enrolling in a fairly light load of classes (or no classes).
The process leading to an internship is structured to move the applicant to the most appropriate internship for each qualified student. Remember that the student, the internship organization, and the proposed site supervisor are reviewed to insure that each internship is a productive, learning situation related to the student's academic background and career plans.
In general, prerequisites for an internship include:
- the completion of 18 hours of communication studies courses (i.e., courses with an SC prefix and/or UI301, 345, 423, 425, or 504).
To set up an internship, you will need to make an appointment with the Department Chairperson who is the Internship Coordinator. You will need to bring the following items to the appointment:
- the completed Internship Application--which is posted at www.semo.edu/commstudies/academics/internships/application.htm)
- your resume
- a cover letter stating your interest in the particular internship
- the completed Internship Agreement (discussed below--if you already have a possible internship lined up and are seeking approval from the Department Chairperson).
Sometimes you may have individual contacts or leads that enable you to seek a particular internship; the Internship Coordinator may know of other possibilities. See the link to a list of possible internships at
When there are no available openings in your specific area of interest, you will need to consider available opportunities or abandon the idea of interning during a specific semester. Be selective as to what type of experience you propose for an internship. Make sure that the experience will relate directly to your intended career goals.
After a potential internship site is determined, you will need to apply using the same process as if you were applying for a job. The process will vary, from place to place, but generally you will indicate your interest and request an interview with the on-site supervisor. Once you have an appointment, arrive about ten minutes early, dress appropriately to the position, and convince the interviewer that you are eager to learn and will provide assets to the organization. If the organization selects you as an intern, this on-site supervisor will complete a detailed job description of your duties for approval by the department's Internship Coordinator. Duties, of course, depend on the particular internship and on your abilities and interest.
A formal working Internship Agreement must be completed and signed by you, the on-site supervisor, and the Internship Coordinator based on the previously created job description.You will find the Internship Agreement at
Once approved, you are ready to enroll in SC 483: Internship , a non-graded 3-hour course for which you receive only academic credit. Once you are officially enrolled, you are responsible for completing at least 150 hours for the internship/practicum and for various other course work responsibilities. These responsibilities may include class meetings, oral reports, written reports, logs, portfolios and/or work samples.
Whether the internship/practicum is paid or unpaid, both the on-site supervisor and the intern should realize that the primary aim is learning. Your on-site supervisor has an obligation to see that you have adequate opportunity during the 150 hours on-site to gain information and/or skills to enhance career possibilities.