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Career Services
Internship Success Stories

Lisa HuffstetlerI am the intern coordinator for the Department of Political Science. One of the largest programs we offer is the internship program with the Tennessee State Legislature. We send 16-20 students to Nashville during the spring semester where they are assigned to either a legislator or a committee and they spend the entire semester there learning about the legislative process. Virtually every intern will tell you it is a life changing experience, one of the best of their college careers. This program is good for students of all majors, not just political science. Anyone interested in politics will enjoy this experience!

—Lisa Huffstetler

Supervising the Intern

As an intern supervisor, you use all of the skills necessary in any effective supervisory relationship:

  • Providing leadership
  • Motivating
  • Delegating
  • Communicating
  • Developing and training
  • Evaluation

Additionally, the students will look to you as a mentor who will assist them in their transition from the classroom to the work environment. Since the internship is an extension of the learning process, you will need to provide opportunities to bridge the two experiences.

We suggest that you meet with your interns regularly to provide feedback concerning their performance. During these meetings, the students can:

  • report on the status of a project
  • ask questions
  • learn how their work is contributing to the organization
  • participate in an evaluation of their strengths
  • discuss areas needing growth and development
  • get a sense of what kind of work lies ahead

At the same time you will have an opportunity to coach, counsel and reinforce positive attitudes and performance.

You should anticipate that you will have some interaction with your students' internship coordinator through telephone calls, on-site visits, and written evaluations. Such persons will help you find a solution if difficulties occur (intern attendance or punctuality problems, low motivation, unsatisfactory work, or personal conflicts). Also, you should get in touch with the college contact if the internship conditions must be altered, such as a change in supervisors, delays in the availability of data needed by the students to complete an assignment, a strike by unionized employees, transfer or termination of an employee involved in the interns' work, or other unanticipated changes.

Encourage your interns to keep a portfolio of work accomplished during the experience. This will help fulfill the students' academic requirements and provide a sense of accomplishment. In addition, it will give you a basis to discuss their personal growth. Specific work documents to include in a portfolio might be any of the following:

Job Descriptions Company Newsletters Contracts
Financial Reports Performance Appraisals Proposals
Displays and Exhibits Correspondence References
Charts/Graphs Survey Reports Manuals
Citations and Awards Press Releases Cost Analyses
Computer Print-outs Program Outlines Certificates
Research Report Legislation  

In addition to spontaneous and informal meetings, you should use the form provided by the Internship Center to evaluate your interns' performance at the midpoint of the internship, so the students know where they stand. You should consider the quality and timeliness of the work produced to date, ability to take and follow direction, work habits, and areas needing growth and development. This information will also provide data for the final evaluation and serve as a reference point for the student's subsequent performance.

Key Points

  • Provide opportunities for increasing responsibility.
  • Encourage professionalism by assisting the interns in developing decision-making abilities, human relations skills, and managing office politics.
  • Remember that you are a role model.
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Last Updated: 9/26/12