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An Educational Experience, Not Just A Job

Since academic credit is granted for the successful completion of the internship, sponsoring organizations must agree to make the internship an educational experience and not just a job. That is, the intern should be asked to complete assignments that, while drawing on past education and experience, take the intern into new areas, providing opportunities for testing and growth under the guidance of an experienced professional. Potential sponsors are required to provide a description of the proposed internship assignment, which must be approved by a faculty committee before an intern can be placed with the organization.

The following example of a proposed internship from the Voice of America, Washington, D.C., gained faculty approval:

The internship will be divided into three parts:

  1. A core assignment of eight weeks duration in the Labor and Employee Relations Division. Intern would participate in negotiations with employee unions and assist labor or employee relations specialists in investigating and resolving employee grievances and union disputes and in preparing cases for litigation.
  2. A two-week orientation and familiarization assignment with the Training and Development Division.
  3. The remaining four weeks would be devoted to one of the following assignments, depending on the interests of the intern:
    • Recruitment and Placement Division. Intern would be given the opportunity to draft vacancy announcements; provide basic information to applicants on qualification requirements; complete reference checks; monitor promotion panels and job interviews; administer examinations; participate in planning recruitment strategies; and attend meetings.
    • Position and Pay Management Division. Intern would work under a senior specialist on projects in the areas of compensation, position classification, and organizational analysis.

The following description is from the New York State Office of Employee Relations, Public Employees Federation Joint Labor/Management Committee on Professional Development and Quality of Working Life, Albany, New York:

Under the general supervision of the executive assistant to the neutral chairperson, the intern will assist in representing the interests of the Committee on Professional Development and Quality of Working Life in reviewing correspondence, gathering data relevant to questions or problems to provide a basis for a reply, and drafting the annual legislative report. The intern will also conduct research to identify the features and costs of various microcomputers and minicomputers to be used in conjunction with the committee''s Tuition Reimbursement Program, monitor projects in progress, and assist in implementing committee determinations. Those duties will require interacting with both labor and management on a daily basis.

This description, from the American Federation of Government Employees, New Brunswick, New Jersey, was also approved:

Intern will work directly under the supervision of the national vice president as an assistant. Will research local collective bargaining agreements and constitutions to ensure accuracy and compliance with national union policies and public law. Will assist with the preparation of the district''s newsletter, which is distributed to local members. Will sit in on arbitration hearings and be exposed to all areas of labor relations within the federal sector.