Purpose of Internship
Internships are intended to provide the student with an opportunity to apply analytical, interpretive, expressive, and creative skills developed in coursework, as well as to learn how a public history-oriented organization or project operates. Internships ordinarily take place outside the University in museums, historical societies, libraries and archives, heritage tourism sites, historic preservation organizations, historical consulting firms, national and regional parks, and urban revitalization organizations, as well as in oral history and documentary film projects. Each intern must have a clearly designed project that he/she is capable of completing by the end of the internship. In some cases the organization will recommend a project that meets its immediate needs, and in others the intern and the organization may develop a project that is mutually beneficial. In all cases the internship must produce work of value to the organization while also providing the student a meaningful learning experience, preferably one that is indicative of the day-to-day functions in that organization. Although in most cases organizations do not have the resources to pay interns, an internship experience often makes the person more attractive for paid positions. Interns may be asked to do paper work and small tasks as part of their duties, which reflects the reality of working in a public history institution. However, in no case should “busy work” define or dominate the internship.
Internships are arranged for 4 credit hours on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grade basis and require an average of 13 hours per week, or 200 hours of service, to the organization over the course of the semester. This arrangement allows the student to complete a substantial project and is an excellent way to demonstrate dedication, responsibility, and experience to future prospective employers.
Eligibility for Internship
Undergraduate students are eligible to enroll in a history internship when they have completed at least 12 credit hours of History coursework at the 300 or 400 level. They need not be History majors, although History majors are particularly encouraged to apply. Graduate students are eligible to enroll in a history internship when they have completed at least 8 credit hours of History coursework at the 500 or 600 level. Students must be in good standing with Cleveland State University and must have at least a B average (3.0 GPA) in all History courses. All students must obtain approval from the internship coordinator.
Finding an Internship
In most cases it is best to begin looking for internship possibilities at least one semester prior to the semester in which the internship would begin. The student may seek the advice of the internship coordinator or other faculty, who can make initial inquiries with organizations in the student’s area of interest. In all cases the student must arrange with the organization or project head for an interview to discuss expectations and evaluate whether the student’s skills and interests match the organization’s or project’s needs. Students should treat the interview with the same professionalism as any other interview and should be prepared with copies of their résumé. After the interview, the internship coordinator will follow up with the organization or project head to determine if the internship may proceed.
Application for Internships
Once a student has secured an internship, he/she must formally apply to the Department of History for approval of the internship for HIS 499 or HIS 697 credit. This entails submitting a completed internship registration form to be signed by the internship coordinator and department chair. It also entails setting up a meeting with both the internship faculty advisor and the organization or project head who will supervise the internship. At this meeting the advisor, supervisor, and student will agree upon the project to be undertaken as well as guidelines for its completion. The student is responsible for typing a memorandum of agreement and submitting it to the advisor and supervisor. In no case should an intern commence work before completing an internship registration form and memorandum of agreement.
Supervision and Responsibility
I. Organization Internship Supervisor Responsibilities
The supervisor must be in a position to supervise the project the student is pursuing. He/she must be in a position to know the organization’s operation sufficiently to show the student how the organization operates. If possible, the supervisor should acquaint the student with the organization’s functions beyond the individual project because such knowledge will best prepare the student for a future career. Ideally, the student should have the opportunity to sit in on staff meetings.
The organization should in all cases provide the student with the resources, supplies, workspace, and direction necessary to complete the project(s). The organization must be responsible for funding any travel relating to the internship, if applicable.
The organization supervisor should feel free to contact the CSU internship faculty advisor at any time if problems arise.
The organization supervisor must provide the internship coordinator with a letter evaluating the student’s performance in the internship upon completion of the semester, which will facilitate the advisor’s final assignment of a Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory grade. He/she should strive to be as candid as possible and not categorically praise the student unless such praise is truly warranted. This letter will be due no later than 1 week after the final day of the regular semester, prior to the CSU exam period.
II. Cleveland State University Internship Faculty Advisor Responsibilities
The internship faculty advisor will visit the organization during the course of the internship if possible. Meetings will the organization supervisor, intern, and faculty advisor may be scheduled on an as-needed basis.
The internship faculty advisor will consult the organization or project head at least once a month during the semester to ascertain the student’s progress.
The internship faculty advisor will be available to the intern during regular office hours, or by appointment.
The internship coordinator (and faculty advisor if different) will keep a copy of the internship project in a file, as well as the student’s exit report (See “Evaluation and Grading Policies” below).
III. Intern Responsibilities
The intern is responsible for seeing that the internship is approved for CSU credit and that the memorandum of agreement is completed before the internship commences.
The intern must provide his/her own transportation to/from the site of the internship.
The intern is responsible for arranging any visits by the CSU internship faculty advisor.
The intern should in all cases act in a professional manner, including dressing appropriately for the position according to the organization’s established custom.
Interns become, in effect, employees during the internship. As such, they are subject to any organization policies regarding the conduct of their work.
If the organization or project head makes unreasonable or excessive demands beyond the ordinary variations in work time that often accompany public history-related organizations and projects, it is the intern’s responsibility to bring the matter to the attention of the CSU internship coordinator.
Evaluation and Grading Policies
The intern will keep a daily or weekly journal of activities and questions and thoughts that arise during the course of the internship. The intern will submit an 8-10 page, typed, double-spaced exit report (12-15 pages for graduate students) along with any supporting materials that reflect the nature of the project and achievement of goals set forth at the outset. In some cases the project will require a substantial amount of writing such as a research essay, in which case the internship faculty advisor may adjust the length of the exit report as needed.
The exit report will consist of an in-depth evaluation of the internship, summarizing the goals set forth at the beginning, the method the intern used to fulfill those goals, the results of the internship project (including how the project fit into the operations of the organization and how it will be used), and a critical assessment of what was learned. Only the CSU internship coordinator (and faculty advisor if different) will read the report, so the student should feel free to be as candid as possible about what worked and what did not. It is understood that copies of any supporting materials, including research essays prepared for the organization, must be submitted to the faculty advisor.
The student will receive a Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory grade depending on the quality of the report and supporting materials and the evaluation provided by the organization supervisor upon completion of the internship. In no case will a Satisfactory grade be assigned until the organization supervisor is satisfied with the quality of the intern’s work. In the event that the quality of the intern’s work is not reflected in the organization supervisor’s evaluation letter, the CSU internship coordinator and/or faculty advisor will discuss the matter with the supervisor until some understanding is reached.
In the event that extenuating circumstances arise after an internship commences, the intern must act in accordance with official University policies regarding dropping a course. If the organization or project head and the intern agree that a project may be postponed, the student may request Incomplete status from the internship faculty advisor.