The UNC Asheville Environmental Studies Internship Program is an integral part of each student’s education. Not only do internships help bridge the gap between the academic world and the working world, these hands-on experiences also help students develop awareness of the needs and opportunities in the community, allow students to put theories into practice, and offer opportunities for more personalized learning beyond the traditional classroom setting. Internships may also give students a head start in the job hunt – in fact, many UNC Asheville students have taken full-time positions with their internship sponsor upon graduation. Student internships (ENVR 490) or senior research projects (ENVR 499) are required of every student in environmental studies.
An internship involves off-campus work with a participating public agency, public interest group, or industry, combined with academic work under a UNC Asheville faculty member. The intern must have junior or senior (preferred) standing in one of the program tracks or individualized options and permission of the internship program director. The student will register for ENVR 490, Internship, for at least three credit hours during the semester or summer in which the project takes place. Students are not permitted to enroll in the fall or spring for internships to be done in the summer term. The sponsoring agency or industry selects an intern following screening interviews of prospective interns. Students are strongly encouraged to develop their own contacts with prospective sponsors, much the same way as you would initiate contacts for a regular position.
The student is responsible for developing a contract, which describes the nature of the internship project, to be approved by the sponsoring cooperator from the agency or industry, and by the Environmental Studies Internship Program Director. The contract should include:
- Your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address
- Course title — Internship 490
- Amount of academic credit to be received [at least 3 credits required for graduation]
- Name of the academic adviser
- Intern supervisor, name, title, address, phone number, and email address
- Location of the internship
- Purpose of the internship
- Outline of the program objectives
- Duration and time line of internship, including the start date, and anticipated dates for completion of the project, submission of final paper and presentation
- List of any appropriate literature to be reviewed
- Blanks for appropriate signatures (supervisor, internship director, yours)
Final copies of the approved contract are to be given to the student, agency sponsor, and UNC Asheville’s Internship Director at the start of the internship. Failure to produce a contract before the semester withdrawal date will result in an automatic one letter grade reduction for the course. A sample contract is found online or in 137 Robinson Hall. Contracts must be finalized before you begin work.
Students are expected to work a minimum of 100 work hours for three hours of internship course credit (35 hours per credit hour). The weekly schedule is to be worked out between the agency sponsor and the intern. Internships frequently run past the normal end of a semester. If so, a student intern is eligible to take an “in progress” (IP) grade until the project is finished. However, the bulk of the work hours should be performed during the semester of enrollment for Internship.
The sponsoring agency is asked to complete an Internship Progress Report at mid-semester and at the end of the semester. At the end of the project each intern will submit a summary written paper and make an oral presentation describing the accomplishments of the internship. The exact nature of the paper/presentation will be determined by the nature of the internship project. A course grade will be assigned by internship director and will incorporate feedback from the sponsoring agency. The numerical summary of the progress reports and the evaluation of the paper and presentation will constitute the key elements in determining the grade. The internship director will call the sponsor or visit the internship site when feasible. The call or visit is used to consult with the agency sponsor and to review the intern’s work.
The summary paper should include a description of work completed during the internship, the importance of the work, and place the internship in context with the environmental or ecological issues related to the work. At a minimum, the paper should include an abstract (required at the presentation), an introduction explaining the relative importance of the work (including literature reviewed) and objectives of the work, methods used, results and discussion, and conclusions.
The presentation may follow the summary paper to some extent. Students are encouraged to use PowerPoint or other appropriate software packages to create professional presentations. Students are required to have an abstract for the audience at the presentation that summarizes their work. Presentations tend to run for 30 to 50 minutes. A flyer announcing the presentation should be posted one week before the presentation.
For students receiving an “IP” grade, you are expected to complete your presentation and paper during the following semester.