Department of Writing
What is a Writing Internship (WRT 490)?
WRT 490, Writing Internship, is a supervised work experience in an area of a student's potential career interest. It is usually initiated by the student who plans the work experience with the internship coordinator to supervise the internship and the supervisor at the worksite. Credit is awarded only when the student, the internship coordinator, and the work supervisor, have completed evaluations of the internship.
Each student is responsible for finding an internship, but the department will help in the effort. Since internships are learning experiences, they may be unpaid; but since the intern will do actual work, some organizations do offer stipends and other forms of reimbursement. An internship scholarship may also be available through Career Services.
Starting in fall 2006, professional writing students are required to take a three-credit WRT 490 Writing Internship for graduation. For creative writing students, WRT 490 is a course highly recommended to increase the student's competitive edge on the job market.
By taking WRT 490, you not only get work experiences for your resume but also earn academic credits on your transcript under the guidance of a faculty advisor who helps you reflect on these experiences and prepare for future job searches.
The Benefits of Taking WRT 490
A writing internship helps students to:
- Apply course concepts to workplace communication problems
- Try out a career option
- Gain practical work experience in a real-world workplace
- Build self-confidence and gain a competitive edge
- Network with professionals in your field
- Build a professional portfolio
- Obtain work references
You may work as an intern at a worksite without taking the academic internship course (WRT 490); however, an academic writing internship is highly recommended as it has these added values:
- Endorses your internship experience as one related to your major
- Counts as a requirement, for professional writing students, or elective, for creative writing students, toward your major (thereby reducing the number of credits you’ll need to complete)
- Offers timely suggestions and guidance for problems and issues you might encounter at your worksite
- Smoothes your transition process from school to the workplace in a nurturing and supportive environment where you work with other writing interns and a faculty advisor
- Provides career consultations and refine your job application documents and interview skills through workshops
- Helps you develop a professional identity as an emerging professional writer ready to initiate changes in and add value to your future organizations
You must meet both field hour and academic requirements in order to receive academic credits.
Field Hour Requirements —50%
As a rough guide, you are expected to spend 45 field hours per semester in the internship and supporting academic work for each credit awarded. For a three-credit internship, it will be 135 hours a semester (e.g., 10 hrs/week x 14 weeks = 140 hrs). Credit is awarded only when the student, the faculty coordinator, and the work supervisor have completed evaluations of the internship, including the organization’s evaluation, administered by Career Services, and site visits by the academic internship coordinator.
Academic Requirements —50%
For a three-credit internship course, you need to attend a weekly one-hour seminar and complete course work, including reading reflections, work reports, final report, internship portfolio, and other assignments that will help you better understand your internship experience.
Final grades (A, B, C, D, and F) are given based on the evaluations of your fieldwork and the quality of your academic participation. A sample WRT 490 syllabus is available in the Writing Department office.
How Do I Qualify for WRT 490?
To get your writing internship approved, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be a major or minor in writing
- Be at least a junior
- Have a 2.75 cumulative GPA minimum, OR approval of the internship coordinator
- Have taken at least four courses from this list: WRT 200, WRT 210, WRT 219, WRT 251, WRT 350, WRT 351, and WRT 360
- Your internship must be at least 50% writing or editing.
- Your onsite supervisor should be able to provide professional guidance in your specialized area for internship projects.
How to Register for WRT 490
You need to get your internship approved by the internship coordinator before you register for WRT 490. Please schedule a meeting with the internship coordinator right after you are offered the internship position to discuss the nature of the job, possible learning and training experiences you will obtain at the worksite, and how many credits you want to get awarded (a three-credit internship will require your attendance and participation in a weekly seminar).
- After you receive oral approval from the internship coordinator, you need to fill out an online internship agreement.
- Once your internship agreement form is approved, the Writing department coordinator will give you a permit to register for the course.
- Shortly before the end date of the internship you and your site supervisor will receive an email asking you to complete an online evaluation.
Tip: You'd better plan for this early as it takes time to complete paperwork from different parties, and you don't want to miss the deadline of registering for the course.
Tips for Finding a Writing Internship
- Plan early. The search for an internship may take months, so it is important to start looking and working on it in advance.
- Schedule a meeting with the internship coordinator to discuss your background and career interests and set up an action plan. You should try to set up the meeting at least three months prior to the beginning of the semester in which you wish to do the internship to allow time to find a site that meets your needs and interests.
- Join the Writing Job & Internship Listserv to receive email announcements on a regular basis. To sign up, please send an email to the internship coordinator.
- Sign up for the department internship workshops. Every semester a series of internship workshops will be offered to all writing students. Topics include searching for writing internships, resume critiques, and professional networking.
- Sign up for the career counseling workshops offered by the Career Services (206 STU). You can find out the event information at this website: http://www.gvsu.edu/careers/
- Get your resume and cover letter reviewed and critiqued by the internship coordinator, Writing Center, or Career Services.
- Register an account at the website of LakerJobs, GVSU's full-service web-based employment system. You will be able to find a lot of internship information there.
- Network with local professional writers by attending monthly STC (Society for Technical Communication) chapter meetings. Two students will be sponsored every time. Event information can be found at this website: http://www.wms-stc.org/.
- Contact students who did internships before to ask for referrals for internship sites. A list of internship locations is available in the Writing Department office. Some previous internship locations include the Red Cross of West Central Michigan, Zondervan Publishing, the Humane Society of Kent County, and The Grand Rapids Children's Museum.
For Help with Additional Questions
First, consult the WRT 490 FAQ in case your question has already been answered.
Dauvan Mulally, Writing Internship Coordinator
Dawn Nagelkirk, Writing Department Coordinator
Rachel Becklin, Assistant Director of Career Services
Page last modified August 17, 2014