Communication undergraduate students can receive EE (Experiential Education) credit for an unpaid internship. Students are responsible for finding their own internships (except in the case of the Hollywood Internship Program) and must carefully follow the steps below if they would like to receive credit for their unpaid internship. You may not apply for credit for an internship you have already started.
An internship in Communication is intended to provide undergraduate students with academic experience not available in structured courses. Students benefit from working closely with a practicing professional in the field. Such experience may increase a student’s marketability in the search for permanent employment.
An internship may be completed at any time during the student’s course of study in the department, provided the student has completed at least 9 hours of COMM major credit, however it is recommended during the last two years, when the student’s theoretical background is strongest.
The Department of Communication sponsors an internship directly (the Hollywood Internship program), which has a different application process.
If you are an undergraduate with a communication major, at least 9 hours of major credit, a GPA of at least 2.5, and have not yet begun your internship, follow the steps outlined below to apply for credit.
Check out these resources for help calculating your GPA:
Internship Advisor/Contact Person and Important Dates
Direct all questions and communications regarding your internship, the application process, or COMM 393 to the following individual during the time listed:
- August 17, 2015 – May 6, 2016: Heather Woods, firstname.lastname@example.org
- May 7, 2016 – August 21, 2016: Emily Cooper, email@example.com
- August 22, 2016 – May 9, 2017: Heather Woods, firstname.lastname@example.org
**NOTE** No applications will be accepted between June 1, 2017 and August 22, 2017.
For Fall internships, you will need to get your application in before you begin your internship, either before June 1, 2017 or between August 22nd and August 28th, 2017.
STEPS FOR APPLYING FOR CREDIT
- Find an unpaid internship: see the List of Current Available Internships, or initiate your own search. The COMM department does not maintain an exhaustive list of available internships. Please see the section below on finding an internship for more information, or stop by 117 Bingham Hall to see student evaluations of previous internship sites.
- Fill out the online Internship Application completely before you begin your internship or within the first week of the semester within which it will take place, which ever comes first. This application requires, among other things, email verification from your on-site supervisor. It is your responsibility to solicit this verification; it is not automated. Your internship has to contribute to your education as a Communication major, and your application must demonstrate the educational merit of your internship.
- Email one PDF copy of your official transcript (can be printed from Student Central, but be sure it has your course record and GPA for ALL semesters you have been enrolled at UNC) to the appropriate contact person listed above. See Internship Advisor/Contact Person and Important Dates section for information on when applications are not accepted
- All applications for internship credit must be approved before you begin work at your internship. You can apply for an internship as far in advance of your start date as you would like. Departmental deadlines for applications are as follows: Internships completed during:
- Summer Internships:Before the internship begins or June 1st, which ever is sooner.
- Fall internships: Before the internship begins or within the first week of classes, whichever is first.
- Spring internships: Before the internship begins or within the first week of classes, whichever is first.
- An internship advisor will let you know by email if your internship application has been approved.
- You will receive academic credit for your internship if you enroll in and successfully complete COMM 393. For Fall and Spring internships, you may enroll in COMM 393 while you fulfill your internship hours. For summer internships, you will be enrolled in COMM 393 in Fall semester following your completed internship—remember that you still need to apply prior to beginning the internship or before June 1st, which ever comes first.
- COMM 393 does not follow a regular schedule.You will have an internship advisor during this period, whom you will work with individually to create a project that furthers your career. You will have specific meeting dates and deadlines for this project; only by meeting these dates and deadlines will you receive your internship course credit. Please see the sample syllabus and final project options for more information
RULES AND RESTRICTIONS FOR RECEIVING INTERNSHIP CREDIT
- The Internship course is for Communication Majors only.
- You must have completed at least 9 hours in the major prior to your internship in order to be eligible.
- The Internship Application must be completed by the dates described under “Steps for Applying for Credit”. No applications will be approved if the internship work has already started; the application was turned in late; or between the dates listed under Internship Advisor/Contact Person and Important Dates section.
- You must have a GPA of at least 2.5 in order to receive credit for an internship. If you want to appeal this requirement, you must fill out an additional Internship Appeal Form. Email it to the appropriate contact person listed above. S/he will make a decision regarding your appeal. However, no appeal is approved until you have gathered signatures from the following people:
- Steve May, Director of Internships
- Tony Perucci, Director of Undergraduate Studies
- Patricia Parker, Department Chair
- The number of credit hours granted depends on the number of hours actually worked. Students completing 120 hours of on-site work can earn 3 hours of academic credit. Students working 40 hours can earn 1 hour of academic credit. Anyone working 100 hours or more fulfills the Experiential Education Requirement.
- No student may earn more than 3 credit hours for internships in the Department of Communication or 12 credit hours for internships and/or independent studies across departments. Students may only receive credit for COMM 393 once.
- No student can receive course credit for a paid internship. Here are the Fair Labor Standards Act guidelines for unpaid internships: http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.htm
- Credit for COMM 393 counts as general university elective credit and cannot be used to fulfill the 30 hours required for completion of the COMM major. It does, however, count towards the 120 hours needed for graduation.
- Students are required to be present in an actual workplace for at least 50% of hours worked. If you would like to appeal this requirement for your internship, please contact the appropriate person listed above.
- The following forms are required for you to receive internship credit. Your internship advisor will contact you on how to submit these forms. In order to avoid complications, it is best if you get a copy of your On-Site Supervisor Evaluation Form before you leave the internship. You cannot be graded without this form.
ADVICE ON SELECTING AN INTERNSHIP
- Start Early!
- Start looking for an internship RIGHT NOW. Whether you’re looking for a summer internship or one for the academic year, it is important that you stay ahead of the game. For example, for summer internships you should begin to look at internship opportunities in early to late December, as some competitive internships, especially at well-established companies and organizations, have winter application deadlines. Starting early also enables you to have the time and resources to apply to many different kinds of internships.
- If you wish to seek funding through the university or external sources for a summer internship (more on this later), the application deadlines are generally sometime between January and March. The John and Tatiana Moore Internship Fund announcement goes out to Communication Studies majors in early March, with a deadline in late March.
- Students who graduate in the Spring will not be given academic credit for internships worked the summer after they graduate. The ideal time for a summer internship is between your Junior and Senior years. Some students have rewarding internships between Sophomore and Junior years.
- Think Big!
- Think about the job or career you ultimately want to have and apply for an internship in that field or organization. If you want to be a screenwriter, start looking for internships assisting screenwriters or on movie sets. If you want to be a wedding planner, apply to a company that does wedding planning.
- An internship should teach you skills you do not already have, immerse you in an unfamiliar organizational culture, and provide an opportunity to build professional connections that you can return to for feedback, skill building, referrals, connections, and potential employment.
- Begin your internship search with the IDEAL opportunity, even if it is unpaid, or in an expensive city. Apply to big, unfunded, far away internships as well as internships in or near the place you live in the summer or during the semester.
- Be Strategic!
- Schedule informational interviews. Informational interviews are a practice in which you contact someone who has a job, career, or works for an organization you think you might be interested in. You’re not asking for an interview for a job, but rather, you are asking the person to tell you about the work they do and how they came to do the work they do and to give you advice on how to meet your career goals. This is a great way to build connections and to better understand the field you’re interested in.
- Check out the career services lists of grants that fund unpaid internship work
- Think about your current financial planning abilities and how an internship might challenge you. Can you secure funding for your internship from the university or an outside funding source? How can your internship build toward your long term career goal with the best long term result? Can you find a way to secure low-cost housing while you work an internship (for example, with family or friends)? Can you work a part-time paid job while working a part time or full time summer internship? Can you secure well paid work for one month and do an unpaid internship for two months?
- Start thinking about your career now. If you’re unsure about what your ideal future career might be, seek out career counseling by scheduling an appointment at University Career Services. See more tips on how to get a great internship from University Career Services’ internship search
- Seek Quality, Respectful, Effective Internships!
- Choose an internship that respects your capacity to work and contribute value to the organization, as well as your well-being as a person.
- Be wary of internships that attach housing with your internship employment. Your safe living environment can become compromised if conflict arises at the internship workplace.
- Apply for and accept internships that are prepared to actively train you in new skills. Often these internships will have a formal internship program, a supervisor who can lay out a work plan before you accept the internship, and/or a discrete project you will produce that you can leave the internship with documents, publications, independently completed events, reels, or webpages that can be used in your portfolio. You are not merely an unpaid laborer, but a trainee.
- Pre-negotiate set work hours and dates, and hold yourself and your organization to keeping these hours or re-negotiating comparable hours to fit their work needs.
- Ask Questions!
Email the appropriate contact person, listed above, with any questions you might have. Be aware that questions received in the time frame referenced in the Internship Advisor/Contact Person and Important Dates section will have low priority, as we do not accept applications during that time.