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Your internship is the culmination of the undergraduate program in Communication at Eastern Connecticut State University. This is your opportunity to work with communication professionals and obtain practical, on-the-job experience, as well as make contacts that may prove valuable later in your career. Your advisor will help you make the most of this opportunity.

Communication internships are designed to benefit both students and employers. An intern from the Communication Department at Eastern Connecticut State University is expected to bring to the organization the expertise necessary to provide high quality support at the beginning professional level; organizations are expected to offer the intern practical experience in a communication-related career setting. While some routine or clerical work is acceptable, the internship experience should also offer substantial hands-on professional experience to the intern.

Finding an Internship

  • You should begin looking for an internship when you are a junior or senior – interns are expected to have completed at least 60 credits towards a degree. You should also have considerable classroom experience in your chosen field. A student interested in a Public Relations internship, for example, should have completed at least six credits of PR related classes before searching for an internship. Employers have come to expect Eastern interns to arrive with a solid foundation in the field, which allows them to offer the intern more challenging assignments.

    Don’t wait until the last minute! Many internships are competitive and have application deadlines well in advance of your start date. As a general rule, start looking for an internship during the semester prior to when you plan to complete the work.

  • All internships must be communication-related in some way. While the Communication Department defines the term “communication” in a broad and reasonable way, all internships must involve some form of effective oral, written, and/or electronic communication, and should help the student make progress towards achieving long-term career goals. The internship must provide the student a learning experience by applying previous coursework in the Department or opening new avenues of inquiry. Although simply doing low-level tasks in certain environments can provide valuable information and networking contacts, our interns are expected to do more than merely run errands, fetch coffee, or perform clerical duties.

    Students planning an internship must remember that the employer invests time and energy supervising and training the intern. Services of value are expected in return. The internship is a reciprocal arrangement: students exchange their work in return for on-the job training, work experience, and an important resume item.

  • The principal responsibility for finding an internship rests with the student. (Think of it as training for your post-graduation job search.) Your advisor and other professors will, of course, be happy to give you suggestions of appropriate organizations. The Communication Department offers an annual internship workshop and periodically hosts information sessions with regional employers such as ESPN.

    It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the bulletin board just outside the Communication Department office suite. Internship and job openings are posted there regularly. Students in the past have interned at many kinds of organizations, including:

    • television stations 
    • advertising agencies
    • hospitals
    • amusement parks
    • small mom-and-pop businesses
    • newspapers
    • dance studios
    • magazines
    • casinos
    • aquariums
    • radio stations
    • public relations firms
    • banks
    • insurance companies
    • tourism agencies
    • government offices
    • day camps
    • film studios
    • social service agencies
    • nonprofit group

    …if there’s a communication opportunity, there’s probably an opening for an intern!

    Many organizations are open to hosting interns but do not advertise for them. Informal conversations with friends and family can provide valuable leads. In addition, many of the Communication clubs focus specifically on career opportunities. Get involved with TV-22, WECS, the Campus Lantern, the American Advertising Federation (AAF), or the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) – these activities are fun and also look great on a resume! Another great resource for establishing yourself professionally is Eastern’s Center for Internships and Career Development.

  • While it is recommended that the student obtain off-campus experience, the location of the internship is less important than the learning opportunities presented by the experience itself. Communication students have successfully interned for university offices including:

    • University Relations
    • Sports Information Office
    • Alumni Office
    • Center for Early Childhood Education
    • Chartwell’s Dining Services

    and other campus offices.

    There are also a number of internship opportunities located close to Eastern. These include many local businesses and nonprofit groups. Particularly popular have been:

    • WILI Radio
    • Red Cross
    • Charter Communication
    • Windham Hospital
  • As long as it’s communication-related, your internship can be based anywhere. Many students choose to do an internship closer to home, but others enjoy travelling into New York or Boston. Students have done internships across the country, and some have even found international internships!

  • Provided that you can fit in the required 120 hours (that’s three weeks of full-time 9-5 work or about 10 hours per week during a regular semester), you can take the internship at any time. However, you should be aware that when taking the internship in the summer or winter session, you will be charged for it as a three-credit class. During the fall and spring semesters, the tuition cost of the internship simply is included as part of your fulltime courseload.

  • We empathize. However, the Communication internship is designed as an unpaid activity. You are “paid” in college credits. The reason for this is that, as an intern, you will be functioning as a quasi-professional, sitting in on meetings, shadowing reporters and so on. Interns are expected to do more than fetch coffee and make copies, unlike entry-level employees who are paid for those tasks (but not much).

    On rare occasions, the Communication Department will waive this requirement when a student has found an exceptional opportunity in the field. Check with your advisor if you think this exception might apply to you.

  • Because some companies have exploited interns, especially post-graduate interns, the federal Department of Labor has established criteria for internships under the Fair Labor and Standards Act. Interns at for-profit organizations may participate in training programs without compensation when the following six criteria are met.

    1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
    2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
    3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
    4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
    5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
    The Communication Department only approves internships which comply with these legal requirements.
  • Although some students have found ways to make this kind of scenario work out, it is unlikely to be successful for a variety of practical reasons. Can you really arrange to work your regular job on MWF and then come in on TR for an unpaid internship in another department at the company? As always, check with your advisor if this is a possibility you are considering.

  • The Communication Department offers internships for either 3 credits (120 hours) or 6 credits (240 hours). Students selecting the 6-credit option must demonstrate a strong rationale for that choice, such as an organizational requirement, and the work done for the second 120 hours must differ substantially from that done for the first 120 (i.e. you might do public relations for the first 120 hours and work in video for the second 120). Frankly, your resume will be stronger if you complete two separate 3-credit internships at two different organizations.

  • Internships are a great way to network and get a foot in the door to start your career. Students may register for a total of 6 credits of internship. The Communication Department encourages students interested in extensive internship experience to pursue additional opportunities independently. Note that only one internship is counted toward the Communication major. Additional internship credits count as general university electives, not Communication electives.

Resumes and Job Interviews

How do I write a resume?

If you haven’t already found the Center for Internships and Career Development (CICD), you should check them out immediately! They are located on the Second Floor of the Wood Support Services Building and are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 – 5:00.

They can help you with everything from writing a resume to finding an internship to the etiquette expected at a job interview dinner. The services of these professionals are included in your tuition – take advantage of them!

Some of the most important pointers about resume writing include:

  • Keep it to one page
  • Use bullet points for emphasis rather than full sentences
  • Put your experience in reverse chronological order (most recent first)
  • Never over-inflate your qualifications
  • Use action words to describe your accomplishments
  • Make it easy to read
  • Proofread! Then proofread again.

What should I say when I contact a potential internship employer?

Along with your resume, send a cover letter indicating that you are looking for an internship. Include a short statement of why you would like the internship, what you can offer them, and how the internship would complement your career goals. Indicate that you will be receiving college credit for the work performed and that no compensation is required. This is especially helpful if you are applying to a company or organization that does not advertise publicly for interns. Follow up with a phone call within a week or so.

Any tips for the job interview?

If you do your homework and know something about the organization before the interview, you’ll find it easier to relax and be yourself. Dress appropriately, be punctual, be prepared to talk about the contributions you can make to the organization, and have a couple of questions ready to ask the interviewer.

Some typical questions you may be asked at an interview include:

  • How did you get interested in this field?
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What is your past experience working with ?
  • Which of your courses did you like the most?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are your long-range goals?
  • Why do you want to work for our company?

Before you start work

  • Celebrate….and go talk to your advisor. You’ll be given the “Internship Registration Form” and the Internship Information Sheet, both of which you’ll need in order to register. Fill out the top portion of the Internship Registration Form with your information, then bring it to your advisor for a signature. Your advisor will collect the signatures from the department chair and the dean for you.

    Attached to the Internship Registration Form is the Internship Info Sheet, which you should complete together with your supervisor at the internship site. Each intern has two supervisors, one on-the-job site supervisor and the other from the faculty of the Department of Communication (usually your advisor). It is important that all three parties – you, your faculty advisor, and your on-site supervisor – share an agreement about the number of hours you are scheduled to complete, the starting and ending dates of your internship, and the tasks you will be performing. Completing the Info Sheet protects you from any misunderstandings about your responsibilities that might arise during your internship.

  • Congratulations! Every internship should benefit both the intern and the organization.

    Some questions to ask before accepting the internship include:

    • What days and hours will I be expected to work?
    • Can I fit the internship into my existing class and work schedule?
    • Do those times line up with the 120 hours required for the internship?
    • If the organization expects more than 120 hours, am I willing to put in additional time?
    • Will I be able to finish the 120 hours by the university’s deadline for completion?
    • What duties will I be expected to complete on the job?
    • Do I currently have the skills to meet those expectations?
    • What opportunities will I have to learn new skills?
    • Will this internship improve my ability to get a professional position after graduation?
  • Please note that this form MUST be submitted either prior to the start of the semester in which you plan to do the internship or within the first few days of that semester, before the add/drop period closes. Late registrations are never accepted by the Dean.

    The other form you must complete prior to beginning your internship is the Internship Information Sheet. This is filled out with your supervisor at the internship site and then submitted to your Communication advisor along with the Internship Registration Form. The Info Sheet is your “contract” with the employer for the duration of the internship.

  • No. You will need to complete another internship in the future once the paperwork is correctly filed.

  • No problem. Just see the Department Secretary and we’ll send one out right away.

On the job

  • There are six action items you will need to finish in order to get credit for an internship. You can begin on the first two items right away, and keep the others in mind for the end of the internship. The evaluation forms (#4 and #5) are attached to this packet and are also available online on the Communication Department’s website. All of these items are submitted to the faculty advisor who signed your Internship Registration Form.

    1. Complete 120 hours of work on site (for a three credit internship)
    2. Maintain an ongoing log of those hours including details about your activities
    3. Write a ten-page reflection paper about your experience.
    4. Submit your evaluation of the internship site to your campus advisor.
    5. Have your site supervisor send an evaluation form to your campus advisor.
    6. Include a portfolio of work completed at your internship – if applicable
  • You will receive an email from the Communication Department with specific due dates for each of these. Typically, the logs should be handed in to your advisor when you are about one-third of the way through the internship (40 hours), again at the two-thirds mark (80 hours), and again at the end (120 hours). The paper, portfolio (when appropriate), and all evaluation forms are due at the end of the semester.

  • The intern log is nothing more than a daily diary that lists the date, number of hours you worked, and what you did. The content may be informal. Some faculty advisors prefer the logs to be typed, and some accept logs via email. Check with your advisor for specifics on that person’s preferred format. The more detail you include in each entry, the more help the log will be when it’s time to write your final 10-page paper. It is helpful to keep a running summary of your hours in the log book.

    Sample Log entry

    January 8, 10:00 – 4:00 (6 hours, total hours = 24)

    I spent a half hour this morning meeting some new producers and people I don’t know where to put into the system yet as I made my way down to the control room. Doug explained to me again how he captures graphics and assigns them randomly until he gets a finalized program.

    I spent the rest of the morning in the audio side of the control room with John and Steve as they showed me how the board works. They were discussing how the strategy would change between this week’s programming and next week during the telethon.

    I spent most of the afternoon editing video, picking sound bites and cutaways, and jotting down ideas for voiceovers.

  • You will be working in the real world and making real decisions. Every aspect of your behavior contributes to your image in the business world. Common sense and good judgment will help you establish good rapport with your internship supervisor and coworkers. You are in charge of what you learn and how much you learn. Most importantly, your internship will help you determine whether or not you want to pursue your chosen field.

    You may feel somewhat unsure of yourself when you start your internship. By following these suggestions, you may alleviate some of your anxiety.

    • Be pleasant and polite to everyone with whom you come in contact.
    • Be enthusiastic about your internship opportunity. Remember, all tasks are
      important, no matter how menial!
    • Be punctual. Show your professional attitude
    • Dress appropriately for your position. When in doubt, dress up rather than down.
    • Check with your supervisor regarding policies before a problem arises.
  • Occasionally, interns experience a conflict with their supervisor or find that the tasks they have been assigned don’t match what was promised. (This is one reason why filling out that Internship Info Form completely is so important – it can save you from potential problems!) If this happens, be sure to contact your advisor promptly. They can offer you advice, talk directly to your internship supervisor, or brainstorm other solutions with you.

  • Remember that Info Sheet you filled out with your supervisor before you began? That’s your "contract" for the internship. The organization may be depending on you to perform certain tasks until the date they anticipated you would be finished. If you can’t work things out amicably with your supervisor, have a talk with your faculty advisor…and remember not to burn any bridges professionally.

  • Most interns enjoy their experience, but occasionally, there’s a mismatch between the intern and the organization (or the supervisor). Chalk it up to a "learning experience." It’s better to find out now that your planned career in x would be a disaster than after graduation when you’re committed to a job in the field.

    Don’t get pulled into conflicts among coworkers. These may have started long before you appeared on the scene and probably will continue long after you leave the internship. Just do your best and be nice to everyone.

After the internship

As your internship winds down, you can start reflecting on your experiences and evaluating how your internship fits in to your long-term career plans. Now is the time to begin work on your ten-page paper, fill out your evaluation of the internship, and remind your internship supervisor to send in the organization’s evaluation of you to your academic advisor. Don’t forget to update your resume to include the internship!

Ten pages?!! I did pretty much the same thing every day. What can I possibly say about my internship for ten whole pages?

Here are some suggestions. This is not an exhaustive list, but a place where you might begin to reflect upon your experiences.

  • What did you learn on the job?
    Read through your log for inspiration – don’t just summarize the logs (your advisor has already read them!), but build upon them. Did you learn technical skills? People skills? Communication skills? How to take the train into the city? Even if you did absolutely nothing of interest and had a terrible time, write about that.
  • Move from specific to abstract.
    If you learned to write a press release, what did that activity teach you about public relations in general? If you did paperwork for the promotions department, what did that tell you about the behind-thescenes operation of a television station?
  • Did the real world match up with your expectations?
    Did people do things “by the book” or did they break the rules you learned in class? Were you surprised at anything you found? What were the best and worst parts of the internship?
  • The paper should offer a big picture, philosophical view of your internship.
    After all, this was supposed to be the capstone of your undergraduate experience, one of the last things you do before you venture out into the world with a “real” job. Use the opportunity to contemplate your own place in your chosen profession. How will you do things differently on your next assignment? Where do you see yourself ten years in the future?
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Any questions? Contact your advisor or the Communication Department secretary at 860-465-4340. Enjoy your internship!!
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