Internships are designed to provide students with structured, off-campus, learning-work experiences in a wide range of community organizations in the Twin Cities and around the world. Each year, increasing numbers of Macalester students participate in credit-bearing internships working in nonprofits, education, government, business, and the fine arts. During the 2010-11 academic year, students completed 311 internships for academic credit with 220 unique community partners.
Participating in the program means engaging in an educational strategy that links classroom learning and “real-life” applications. Organizations provide challenging, substantial work experiences for students and agree to supervise and evaluate their performance. In exchange, host organizations receive valuable work contributions and energy from creative, highly motivated, inquisitive students who may one day enter the work force in that field. For faculty, students who are currently, or who have in the past, engaged in internships may bring relevant real world experience into the classroom in ways that shed light on the theoretical.
Helping Students Plan for Internships
Students may approach a faculty member for advice as they begin brainstorming potential internships, seeking input on types of experiences or particular sites that have the potential to move them toward their intellectual and career objectives. Faculty often have significant professional networks in their chosen field. Even without these connections, faculty can help the student thoughtfully explore his or her options. What does the student wish to gain from the experience: Exposure to a given field and the work involved? Technical skills? Personal growth/sophistication? The selection of a major and career exploration? Who is the best person to act as faculty sponsor for this particular internship? Sometimes the same experience may be examined through significantly different perspectives based upon the discipline of the faculty helping to design and assess the experience.