There are quite a few steps in the process of securing an internship, each of which will be described in some detail below. So let me start with a check list of all the things that need to happen along the way:
- Secure an internship
- Fill out the internship request form and submit it to the PSM coordinator
- Ask the PSM coordinator for permission to register for PSM 691
- Complete your internship experience
- Give your oral presentation
- Write your internship report and submit it to the PSM coordinator and your program director
The first step is to secure an internship.
The second year students are a great resource for possible internship sites, as is your program director and the PSM program coordinator. We also hold a workshop in the fall on how to approach the process of searching for an internship. When contacting possible internship mentors always be respectful and professional. Many of them will already be familiar with our programs, but some will not. The PSM program coordinator has information regarding the purpose and expectations of the internship if that would be helpful. If there is an employer you would like to contact but you don't know where to start, ask the PSM coordinator for assistance. We will do our best to help you find an internship, but it is ultimately your responsibility.
Once you have found an internship please talk with your mentor about expectations and requirements for the experience. Some places have had many interns through the years and they have a well thought out set of expectations and requirements and your experience will be very organized. Other places won't really know what to do, so that's where you'll have to be more involved.
The PSM program expects three basic things from the internship experience. First, we expect you to spend ~440 hours on your internship. More is fine, but less can be problematic. You can complete more than one internship if the full hours cannot be completed at one place. Second, we expect students to gain practical experience in their discipline. This means you should perform meaningful work within your discipline and have an opportunity to develop your technical skills, preferably under the mentorship of someone at the internship site. Third, we expect students to be exposed to the business and professional side of the workplace. This means that you should have an opportunity to develop your professional skills - teamwork, communication, leadership, ethics, etc. - under the mentorship of someone at the internship site.
Please fill out the PSM internship request form with the help of your mentor and return it to the PSM coordinator once you have had this discussion about expectations and requirements. The form is brief and simple, should only take a few minutes to fill out, and is used in program evaluation and assessment.
You will be permitted to register for PSM 691 once you have turned in your internship request form. It's the PSM coordinator's responsibility to register students for PSM 691, so don't bother asking your program director. Each student needs to complete a minimum of 4 credits of PSM 691 for their degree, and the course can be taken for 1, 2, 3, 4, or 9 credits at a time. This flexibility allows you to select an appropriate number of PSM credits in a semester to maintain full-time status or to limit the impact on your bank account. You can complete more than 4 credits of PSM 691 (sometimes students do that to have enough credits for their GA), but only 4 credits will count toward your degree. All semesters of PSM 691 are graded as incomplete until the oral presentation and written reports have been completed. At that point the grade will be changed to CR.
Then go out and enjoy your internship experience. Ask to learn new technical skills that will be useful to you later. Give talks whenever possible. Attend as many meetings as you can. Meet as many people as you can. Take on leadership positions when possible. Be ambitious and interested. Use this time to learn as much about your discipline as possible.
As the internship begins to draw to a close it will be time to think about completing the final requirements. Three things are required:
- Submit a written report. This report should be reviewed and approved by your internship advisor before it is sent to your graduate program director and the PSM coordinator. Report guidelines are attached.
- Give an oral presentation on your internship. The contents of this presentation should be approved by your internship advisor and the date and forum for your presentation can be arranged with your graduate program director.
- Be evaluated by your internship advisor. Once your internship is completed the PSM coordinator will send a request to your advisor asking her/him to fill out a short evaluation. Final grades for PSM 691 will not be impacted by this evaluation since it is mostly evaluation of the program and not of the student.
And that's it. Any questions should be addressed to the PSM coordinator, who is always willing to sit down and talk about things with students.