Internships

An internship in Communication Studies 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, but is recommended during the last two years, when the student’s theoretical background is strongest.

The Department of Communication Studies sponsors an internship directly (the Hollywood Internship program), which has a different application process. Please see https://comm.unc.edu/undergraduate-studies/hollywood-media-internship/.  All other internships must be sought out by the student, who can follow the application process outlined here.

 

STEPS FOR APPLYING FOR CREDIT

1.    Find an unpaid internship: see List of Current Available Internships, or initiate your own search.

2.    Fill out the online Internship Application completely, including your on-site internship supervisor’s signature.   Fill it out before the end of the semester prior to your internship, or within the first two weeks of the semester within which it will take place.  Your internship has to contribute to your education as a Communication Studies major and your application must demonstrate the educational merit of your internship.

3.   Email one copy of your transcript (can be unofficial and printed from Student Central, but be sure it has your GPA) to Freya Thimsen (thimsen@email.unc.edu) from August 20 to May 05.  No applications are accepted between June 02 and August 19.

4.  For summer internship applicants, no applications will be accepted after June 01.  In all cases, applications will not be accepted after you begin work at your internship.

5.  The Internship Advisor (see step #8) will let you know if your internship has been accepted. This notification will include the requirements for obtaining academic credit.

6.    In the Fall semester following your summer internship, you will be registered for COMM 397: Internship.  If you have an internship during the academic year, you can be enrolled in COMM 397 at the same time as you are fulfilling your internship hours.  During the semester that you are enrolled on COMM 397, you will meet with your advisor and turn in all required work by the agreed upon due date.  Failing to do so will affect your grade.

7.  The internship advisor for the academic year 2013-2014 is Freya Thimsen (thimsen@email.unc.edu).  However, it is possible for you to elect a Communication Studies faculty member to be your internship advisor.  In that case, you must meet with the faculty member and come to an agreement as to what your internship consists of, and what the academic component of your COMM 397 coursework will be.  You will be registered in a different section of COMM 397, for which the faculty member is responsible rather than the internship advisor.

 

RULES AND RESTRICTIONS

1.  The Internship course is for Communication Studies Majors only.

2.  The Internship Application must be completed by the end of the semester prior to your internship, or within the first two weeks of the semester within which it will take place.  Applications for course credit for Summer Internships must be turned in no later than June 01, 2014; Fall Internship deadline is August 01, 2014.

3.  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 Appeal Form.  Email it to Freya Thimsen (thimsen@email.unc.edu) from August 20 to May 05.  After Ms. Thimsen has reviewed your appeal and given you the go-ahead, you must gather three additional signatures: Ken Hillis, Department Chair; Francesca Talenti, Director of Internships; and Tony Perucci, Director of Undergraduate Studies.

4.    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.

5.    No student may earn more than 3 credit hours for internships in the Department of Communication Studies or 12 credit hours for internships and/or independent studies across departments. Student may only receive credit for COMM 397 once.

6.   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

7.    Credit for COMM 397 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.

8. Students are required to be present in an actual workplace for at least 50% the hours worked.  Appeals to this requirement will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

9.  After the Internship is completed, please fill out and submit the forms below to the Internship Advisor.  Be sure to get a copy of your On-Site Supervisor Evaluation Form before you leave the internship to avoid complications later. You cannot be graded without this form.

OnSite Supervisor Evaluation Form

STUDENT EVAL OF SITE FORM

 

STEPS TO SELECTING AN INTERNSHIP

1.    Start Early!

•    The time to start looking for a summer internship is NOT April or May. 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, the application deadlines are generally sometime between January and March.  The John and Tatiana Moore Internship Fund announcement goes out to Comm 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.

2.    Think Big!

• Think about the job or career you ultimately want to have and apply for an internship in that field and 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.

3.    Be Strategic!

•    Check out the career services lists of grants that fund unpaid internship work:
http://careers.unc.edu/students/internship-search/internship-funding.html

•    Working a summer internship can be an ideal time to practice your financial planning as well. 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?

•    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, how they came to do the work they do, and 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.

•    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: http://careers.unc.edu/students/internship-search

4.  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, if you are available to do so.

5.  Ask Questions!

• Email  Freya Thimsen (thimsen@email.unc.edu) from August 20 to May 05. No applications will be accepted between June 01 and August 20.

• We keep a list of internships previous Internship students have worked and their experiences there. Stop in Carly Niland’s office in 117 Bingham Hall, Monday-Friday, 8:30-4:30: she keeps the hard-copy review of organizations on file. You can see if the previous student had a good or bad experience, pros and cons of the internship, and a contact name and email address for the internship supervisor.

Fill out the online Internship Application

Paid Internships