By Jessica Pike, Staff Writer
Instead of being rewarded financially, academic internships offer experience and academic credit, while helping apply skills learned in college that can help further connections in a student’s chosen field of study. Academic internships, which make use of course teachings, at USM are run through a course, and students can be placed in an internship throughout the semester. Non-academic internships still offer experience, but doesn’t usually include academic credit. However, it is still possible to get credit for an internship that doesn’t take place on campus.
Internships are not typically used until the third or fourth year of college, and not all majors at USM offer or require internships. If a major doesn’t offer an internship, non-academic internships are available or a Career Advisor can work with students to find other possible opportunities. The departments that offer internships at USM include Art, English, Media Studies, Business, Theatre, Political Science, Music, Sociology, Anthropology and Social work to name a few. Also, while not common and most are not available for academic credit, some internships can be a paid job.
If an internship course is taken through USM, it follows the same guidelines as a regular course and includes a cost per credit. Other internships can have a greater cost, but usually has greater benefits and outcomes, like taking place in another part of the world or having a longer work period.
To find an internship through USM, the USM Career Connections site on the campus portal can be used or meet with a Career Hub advisor who will help set up meetings with employers in a specific area of study. To find the Career Connections, log into the campus portal and click on the blue cube. Afterwards, enter in specific requirements and information to find the perfect internship. This will involve submitting cover letters, resumes, interviews, and everything needed for a normal job interview.
While working an internship, students can make a network of contacts that can be used for future employment or as recommendations. To get academic credit for an internship, there are specific requirements and varying credit hours. To find out the specific requirements for each internship, students can contact the internship coordinator for their specific academic department. These advisors are available to answer questions and to inform students about the process of applying for an internship.
Some of the requirements for internships include certain prerequisite courses, having a minimum GPA of 2.33 or higher, filling out approval forms or working a certain amount of hours, which usually 140 hours. Only nine credits can be used towards graduation with each internship being one to three credits each, but students can have multiple or longer internships to help earn credits.
A new program that is offered by the Career and Employment Hub to help students with getting internships is the USM Career Exploration (Maine Economic Improvement Fund (MEIF) Funded) Internship Program. This program accepts applications from both student and employers, and matches them based on the compatibility of the answers provided. However, this program is geared more towards the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students, but can still be helpful for building a resume, writing a cover letter and make employee contacts. Students have a higher success rate and are satisfied to have taken an internship given the chance.
A survey by USM was administered in the fall of 2015 to see the effectiveness of internships on students, which showed an overall positive outcome. The survey can be found on the USM website under the internships tab of the Career and Employment Hub. Also part of the survey is quotes from students about their experience with internships, and how it helped.
“I loved interning in this setting – It definitely gave me stronger writing skills and ultimately got me hired full time. I now have a salaried position doing a job I love and feel confident and supported in!” said Lexi, an intern at The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting.
Applying for an internship can potentially help students to advance faster towards graduation, and ultimately, employment.