Southeast Missouri State University

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. A practicum is a practical learning experience within the Southeast Missouri State University community.

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 Mass Media 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 or do practicums throughout the year, although some experiences are available only during specific periods (i.e. summer).

Because they involve a rather heavy time commitment, internships/practicums 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.

The process leading to an internship/practicum is structured to move the applicant to the most appropriate internship/practicum for each qualified student.  Remember that the student, the internship/practicum organization, and the proposed site supervisor are reviewed to insure that each internship/practicum is a productive, learning situation.

In general, prerequisites for an internship include:

  • successful completion of at least 75 semester hours in a college/university setting,
  • minimum university GPA of 2.5,
  • minimum departmental GPA of 2.75,
  • the completion of 12 hours of mass communication courses from any single option not included in the core.

Note: Students who do not meet the required GPAs will be required to take a practicum on campus.

In general, prerequisites for a practicum include:

  • successful completion of at least 75 semester hours in a college/university setting,
  • minimum university GPA of 2.5,
  • minimum departmental GPA of 2.5,
  • the completion of 12 hours of mass communication courses from any single option not included in the core.

Whether you will be doing an internship or a practicum, you will need to make an appointment with the Internship Coordinator.  Bring to the appointment:

  • completed Internship/Practicum Application
  • your resume
  • letter stating your interest in an internship/practicum.

Your appointment with the Internship Coordinator will determine your preference for a "type" of internship/practicum.

Sometimes you may have individual contacts or leads that enable you to seek a particular internship.  The Internship Coordinator does not "find" internships for students; however, the Internship Coordinator can assist by telling students of places and businesses that have previously provided internship opportunities for our students.  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 or doing a practicum during a specific semester. Be selective as to what type of experience you propose for an internship/practicum.  Make sure that the experience will relate directly to your intended career goals.

After a potential internship/practicum site is determined, you will probably have the responsibility of contacting the  proposed organization and setting up an interview with the on-site supervisor.  Make sure, once you have committed yourself to a time, to keep the appointment.  Dress appropriately 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/practicum and on your abilities and interest.

A formal working Internship/Practicum Agreement must be completed and signed by you, the on-site supervisor, and the Internship Coordinator based on the previously created job description.

You are now ready to enroll in either MC486 Internship or MC496 Practicum, 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 180 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 180 hours on-site to gain information and/or skills to enhance career possibilities.