How to Earn Academic Credit at UTK for a Tech Comm Internship Via English 493: Independent Study

Note: “tech comm internship” means any kind of internship focussing on professional communication. In other words, internships with publishers, journal editors, advertisers, journalists, “webmasters,” etc. are usually just fine—as are, of course, writing/editing/document design internships at specifically “tech comm” sites both on and off campus (University of Tennessee Press; designsensory; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Science Applications International Corporation; DPRA, etc.).

English 493 (Independent Study) is the UT English Department’s current vehicle for allowing students to receive academic credit for internship work. I’m willing to be your professor for this kind of independent study if:

1. You submit your application to Dr. Mark Luprecht , Director of Undergraduate Studies—312 McClung Tower, 974-5401 (sec.)— by the deadline for any given term—that is, within 10 days of term’s start. Academic credit should not be an afterthought, and certainly it cannot be given retroactively.

Note: your application must explain what the proposed internship will include, what skills you hope to develop, and how your particular internship fits within your career plans.

2. The focus of your internship is technical/professional communication.

3. You have a good mentor (supervisor) on site who will guide you, give you feedback on your ongoing performance, and will write me an evaluation of your performance at the close of your internship.

4. You turn in to me the weekly email reports and final portfolio I require.

There is no requirement that we meet in person; electronic contact is sufficient—but you’re welcome to stop by my office during my office hours or make an appointment if you wish to see me in person.

Generally, I assign no readings or tests for an internship; I assume that necessary readings, and “real life” evaluations, are an integral feature of your internship experience. The typical internship requires about 12 hours per week (not including travel time). In more detail, here is what you must do:

Email me weekly with a report on what you’re learning and doing, and with any other information or questions you may wish to communicate.

• Keep copies of the documents you write/edit/design during your internship. (You will later select representative samples for inclusion in a portfolio.) If you are working with web pages, make some hard copy showing the stages of your work, or at least one “before” and “after” shot. If you are working on proprietary documents and cannot make copies, you must explain this in your final report.

• Keep copies of any memos or reports that you submit to your internship supervisor (your on-site mentor).

• Write up a final internship report at the end of the semester (8 to 10 pages) describing the work you did during the internship and all other aspects of the internship experience. Be sure to assess the internship’s value to your education and projected professional life. Add any suggestions/concerns/etc. that you wish to include.

• Persuade your supervisor (mentor, boss) to write me a letter at the end of the internship–some kind of assessment of your performance. Your supervisor must write me such an assessment and to send it to me within several days of the end of the internship. Be winsome in making your request.

• Combine these materials–representative documents, memos to supervisor, and final internship report–into a well-designed portfolio (complete with title page, introduction, and table of contents). Three-ring binders with tabbed dividers work well. If you wish, you may include in your portfolio the emails you sent to me throughout the semester.

NOTE: Make two copies of your portfolio, one for me and one for you. I will keep my copy of your portfolio. I recommend that you keep yours as well–it is an excellent job-hunting tool. Also note: you may create a “web portfolio” if you wish.


How I Decide Your Grade
I read all the weekly reports, I evaluate your entire portfolio, and I read the statement from your mentor/boss. Then I assign a grade to you. The quality of your writing figures prominently in your grade.

The typical number of credit hours for an internship such as I’ve described here is three. Dr. Luprecht requires all students wishing to receive academic credit for internships via Independent Study 493 to abide by his guidelines and to fill out the planning statement for English 493: Independent Study (see below).

Please post me with your planning statement before turning in the form to Dr. Luprecht. If I’m satisfied with it, I’ll let you know, and you may then bring it to the secretaries in McClung 311; they’ll put in into my mailbox. I’ll sign it and give it to Dr. Luprecht. (You may design your own form or use the one provided in McCLung 311.) If I’m not happy with your statement, I’ll let you know why and you can then revise the statement or negotiate with me about it.

Here are the guidelines and the planning form:

1. A student may take no more than six hours of English 493; only three hours of 493 may count for credit towards the English major.

2. The topics and readings selected for independent study normally should not duplicate the content of courses offered by the English department.

3. A student may ask any member of the professorial staff to supervise her/his independent study.

4. Usually, a professor may direct no more than two students per term in English 493 or 593; but of course, no professor is required to give such a course to any student.

5. The professor and student together will decide the scope of the reading and the methods of evaluation. The evaluation will be based, at least in part, upon some sort of written response by the student to her/his reading.

6. The student will register the arrangement on a “Planning Statement” form provided in 311 McClung Tower, to be signed by the professor and the student. This form will be submitted to the Director of Undergraduate Studies in 311 McClung Tower.


The student and professor should use this sheet to state, as precisely as possible, what is to be accomplished in the course. At the bottom, both student and professor should sign the sheet and submit it to the Director of Undergraduate Studies in 311 McClung Tower within ten days after the term begins.


Subject to be Studied:

Credits to be Earned:

STATEMENT OF PLANS [100-200 words]:

STUDENT (signature):

PROFESSOR (signature):

Note this entry from pages 20-21 of the Academic Guide, 2000-2001 from UT’s Center for Undergraduate Excellence:
An internship is a work experience that is either directly related to your major field of study or career interest. They are typically full-time for one semester either during the regular school year (spring or fall semester) or during the summer. However, internships may also be six-month or even part-time for a specified period of time.

In today’s competitive job market, students with career-related work experience are the students who are getting the best interviews and job offers. Internships can be either paid or unpaid positions. While both opportunities can offer good work experience, you will need to determine if your situation will allow you to work for no pay.

Academic Credit for an Internship
Questions concerning receiving academic credit for an internship should be directed to the appropriate academic department before you report for work. Some departments allow students to receive elective credit for approved internships during a regular school term. You may be required to write a short paper or do a class project in order to receive the credit hours.

How to learn About Internship Opportunities
There are a number of ways to learn about summer job/internship opportunities. The sources listed below will assist you in your search:

• Register on the Summer Job/Internship Database in Career Services To register on the database you need to buy Resume Expert Plus (RE+), a $25 software package available at the University Center Computer Store. After completing your resume, Career Services will download your information.
• Check the Summer Job/Internship Bulletin Board posted in the Career Services Lobby, 100 Dunford Hall.
• Attend the Internship/Summer Job Festival held every year in late February. Employers recruit students from a variety of majors for summer jobs and internships.
• Refer to the Summer Job Internship Directories available in Career Services and Arts and Sciences Advising Services, 220 Ayres Hall.
• On-Line Job Opportunities. You can access Career Services’ job listings from any lab that supports Netscape. From the Career Services Home Page select On-Line Job Listings: JOBTRAK. The password is vol. You may then search job/internships by various categories.
• Check with your academic department and/or advisor for summer job/ internship opportunities. Some employers contact departments directly and Career Services routinely notifies departmental faculty about internships.

Questions? Contact Career Services, 100 Dunford Hall, 974-5435, for academic department, your academic advisor or college advising center.

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