What is an internship?
An internship is a formal educational project involving the student, the department, and an organization that offers a learning experience consistent with the student's major. It is undertaken after the student has successfully completed the majority of the academic work in the major.
In what kind of organizations do students do internships?
Because of our reputation in professional circles, the Communication Department finds that our students are actively sought by media organizations. Usually, students will have a choice of internship opportunities.
Where do students do internships?
Most students do internships in Buffalo and elsewhere in Western New York as part of a full semester class load. Students also may do internships in the summer or as part-time students. In the past, the department has sponsored internships as far away as Taiwan and England. Students may receive no more than three credits for an off-campus internship.
What are the academic prerequisites for an internship?
Students must have at least a 2.6 GPA in their major, and they must have successfully completed the prerequisite 300-level courses - COM 301 and 308 in Public Communication; COM 304 and COM 312 in Media Production; COM 302 and either 303 or 338 in Journalism.
What kind of work will be expected of students?
Student interns are expected to do entry-level professional work, monitored by the department. Ideally, interns will have the opportunity to complete at least one project they have done substantially alone, as well as additions to their portfolios. The department cannot give academic credit for internships in which students work in areas unrelated to their majors or with a company where they already are employed.
How much time does an internship entail?
Plan on spending at least as much time on this course—whether you take it as a 1-, 2-, or 3-credit course—as for any other upper-division elective in your major. Don't take this course for an easy time. Basic requirements are 150 hours (minimum) of on-site time, approximately 10 hours a week throughout the 15-week spring or fall semester. Summer hours are different, but students must log the 150-hour minimum for the 11-week summer term. Most students amass more than the minimum 150 hours.
What is the role of the academic supervisor?
A Communication Department faculty supervisor monitors the intern's work and serves as a liaison between the department and the work site. Currently the internship supervisor is Nanette Tramont (Bishop 211). She works with students to obtain internship placements based on students' career goals and available placement opportunities.
What is the role of the professional supervisor?
A professional at the work site directs the intern's work and provides on-site guidance. The professional supervisor provides feedback and evaluation of the student's work performance.
Where do internships fit in the student audit sheet?
COM 488 is an upper-level communication major elective that or an upper-level All College elective if not needed within the department. Note that only six credits of internship may count toward the 120-credit graduation requirement. Additional credits may be taken as extra credits above the 120 minimum.
Does the department place students in internships?
The department works with the student to find a placement, but the decision to take an intern rests with the professional site. Generally, companies and nonprofit organizations contact the department if they wish to have an intern, or the department recommends interns to places that have had Buffalo State interns in the past or have internship opportunities. Occasionally students recommend a new site for a possible internship. SUNY requies the department to have a formal agreement with the internship site, in part to guarantee that insurance coverage is in place for students while at the workplace.
Can students do internships without academic credit?
It is possible to do internships without receiving academic credit through COM 488. However, such informal internships are becoming increasingly rare because federal law requires that all workers must be compensated, and unpaid interns are considered to be compensated by receiving academic credit. Also, most companies and organizations require that students are covered by insurance, which is gained by enrolling in a course.
Do internships comply with the law?
Increasingly, lawsuits are being filed over unpaid internships and legal issues surrounding them. The Communication Department's internships comply with all the legal requirements governing internships.
- Specifically, federal labor law requires that internships have an educational component. Ours do, with a course setting involving academic oversight by the department and academic credits.
- Internship worksites must offer a legitimate professional benefit to students (such as writing news releases or shooting video, rather than getting coffee and running errands). We require a written agreement stipulating this, signed by the student and by representatives of the worksite and the department. Our interns also file weekly reports documenting their work activities.
- The law is clear that interns may not be used to replace paid employees. Our vetting process for worksites makes this clear.
- Additionally, Communication internships generally are part-time, and the legal challenges have been over full-time unpaid internships. Also, the legal restrictions are mainly on internships with for-profit companies, and many Communication interns work for exempt organizations such as public or government agencies and religious, charitable and other nonprofit organizations, in which the intern doesn't have any expectation of compensation beyond the academic credit and grade.
What do I need to apply for an internship?
You begin the process by printing and completing the Internship Application.
Will I need a portfolio for an internship?
Yes. You must assemble a portfolio with at least three samples of your professional work related to your internship interests. These samples can be written materials from courses such as Writing for Broadcast, Public Relations Writing, Feature Writing or similar courses. They also can be visual or digital products such as brochures, web or social media products, video shorts or news pieces, audio productions, or short segments from longer pieces you have created. After you have gathered these examples of your work, submit your completed Internship Application along with a printed copy of your portfolio or a digital site where the portfolio can be accessed.
How do I apply for internship credit?
Several steps are involved:
When should I apply for an internship?
You want to be as well-prepared as possible to do quality professional work. Thus strategically, most students wait until their final semester or summer term, so they can put the most into their internship and thus get the most out of it. You may apply in the semester in which you are completing the prerequisite courses.
Is there an application deadline?
Yes - 45 days before the start of the semester or term. So plan ahead. An internship should be a carefully thought-out activity, and students canot expect to do an internship as a last-minute whim. SUNY legal requirements call for an agreement between Buffalo State and the professional internship site to be in place one-month before the internship can begin. Thus the 45-day appllication deadline, meaning that the deadline to apply is approximately December 10 for a spring internship, April 15 for a summer internship, and July 15 for a fall internship.
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