Internship Guide


While ENS majors may pursue community-based or on-site learning experiences to fulfill their 2-credit internship or practicum requirement, the impact of COVID-19 is unpredictable. It is recommended that alternative or extended plans be considered in case public health directives, GVSU administration, or agency policies insist face-to-face and service activities be temporarily converted to remote. Students are encouraged to discuss their ENS 490: Internship or ENS 491: Practicum plans with their ENS faculty advisor.

The ENS Internship Coordinator for the 2021-2022 academic year is Professor Crystal Scott-Tunstall. Students may reach out to Prof. Scott-Tunstall for guidance and questions pertaining to ENS internships at or (616) 331-8234.

Students pursuing a major in Environmental and Sustainability Studies are required to complete 2 credits of either ENS 490: Internship or ENS 491: Practicum. While it’s not required for students earning the ENS minor, ENS 490: Internship and ENS 491: Practicum are still available to minors and fulfill an upper-level elective.

A practicum involves proposing and completing an independent project under a faculty member's supervision. For information about ENS 491: Practicum, visit the Research and Practicums page on the ENS website. An internship, on the other hand, is usually completed under a supervisor’s direction at an external organization.

Internship Requirements and Expectations

Internships provide supervised work experience through which students can relate environmental and sustainability studies principles and academic work with practice in the field. Completing an internship NOT for credit is an option. However, if students want to earn credit for their participation, they must complete the Internship Agreement Form and enroll in ENS 490 prior to starting the internship. Students seek out their own placement and can earn between 1 and 6 credits with 1 credit hour equivalent to 50 hours of work. The student, ENS Internship Coordinator, and site supervisor agree on the scope of the internship and its components.

See the ENS 490 sample syllabus to review detailed requirements and expectations.

STEP 1: Find an Internship

Form an idea of a project or the type of work you would like to contribute, and then begin contacting organizations with which you are interested in interning. When approaching a company or organization, be sure you are able to articulate what you would like to get out of the internship as well as what you can contribute.

Our Community Engagement and Employment Resources page is packed with ideas for leads in and around West Michigan and lists several online sites to check for internship and job postings.

The State of Michigan is a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. As of March 2017, students are allowed to participate in internships in any state.

Connect with ENS

  • The ENS Internship Coordinator, Prof. Scott-Tunstall, is available to provide guidance and may have leads for you to consider.
  • Follow ENS on social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, to learn of internship opportunities as they're shared with us by area organizations.

Talk to your Faculty and Peers 

  • Your classmates who have already completed an internship can often make great recommendations and referrals.
  • Many faculty members are connected within the community and may have ideas of other potential internship sites.

Utilize the Career Center

If you're completing your internship during spring/summer, we highly recommend extending your placement across the full (12-week) semester, as opposed to a condensed (6-week) placement. 

Once you receive and accept an offer from an agency to fulfill an internship, follow up with the ENS Internship Coordinator to confirm that the arrangements meet the criteria for ENS 490.


STEP 2: Complete the Online Internship Agreement Form

After securing an internship, log into GVSU's Internship Management System to complete the Internship Agreement Form. You will need to know your site supervisor’s contact information (name, email, phone, and address). You may request 1-6 credits for your internship with 1 credit hour equivalent to 50 hours of work. This includes time spent working at the internship, as well as time spent writing journal entries, a reflective essay, or fulfilling other requirements. In the “Description of Internship” field, you’ll need to identify at least 3 key learning objectives for the internship that you and your site supervisor agree to achieve. Learning objectives should include the duties, responsibilities, and activities for meeting each objective. 

Examples of learning objectives:

  • Develop and advance thorough, professional, and culturally-competent patient/provider communication skills 
  • Learn to design staged plans of care for clients and staff members 
  • Produce spread sheets documenting levels of care for clients and staff members 

Meet with the ENS Internship Coordinator to review any additional requirements. Please note that you cannot access your form in the Internship Management System once it has been submitted. If you need to make changes, contact the ENS Internship Coordinator.


STEP 3: Register for ENS 490 

Once you have submitted your online Internship Agreement Form, it will be reviewed by your site supervisor and the ENS Internship Coordinator. After your internship has been approved (based on the information provided on the Internship Agreement Form), you will then submit a request in Banner for a registration permit to enroll in ENS 490.

To initiate the registration permit request in Banner, follow these Instructions for submitting registration permits. The section number of ENS 490 you register for should correlate with the number of credit hours you indicated on the Internship Agreement Form. If your internship is during the spring/summer semester, be sure to check the start and end dates of the ENS 490 section you're registering for to confirm that it aligns with your placement (i.e. spring term/1st six weeks, summer term/2nd six weeks, or full 12 weeks). If you do not see a section number offering the appropriate number of credit hours you're pursuing, contact the ENS Office, and a new section can be added to Banner.


STEP 4: Complete the Internship and Required Assignments

Prior to starting your internship, familiarize yourself with common expectations and best practices for making your internship placement a success for both you and the organization. Read through these Helpful Internship Tips. We encourage you to seek out other resources as well.

There is no “class” to attend for ENS 490 - you will be learning on the job. Your grade for the internship will be based on the assignments you turn in to the ENS Internship Coordinator, as well as your site supervisor's evaluation. Upon completion of ENS 490, you will receive a grade of "credit" or "no credit," as opposed to a letter grade (A-F). 

Submitting your ENS 490 Assignments 

Requirements, expectations, and due dates are detailed in the ENS 490 syllabus provided by the ENS Internship Coordinator. 


About three weeks prior to the end of the semester, you and your site supervisor will receive an email with a link to your online evaluation. Both of you must complete this evaluation, which is required to receive credit for the course.