Short-term opportunities with lifelong impact.
The skills that communication majors develop — from critical thinking to content creation — are valuable in a variety of careers. Through internships, students apply those skills in professional situations and simultaneously learn what work environments best fit their personality and interests. For that reason, the communication department requires students to complete at least one two-credit internship before graduation.
- Build experience and work history
- Practice skills learned in the classroom
- Gain confidence in their abilities
- Connect with mentors and role models
- Experiment with their interests without making a long-term commitment
The areas in which students can complete internships are as broad as the communication curriculum. Generally, internships meet the department’s requirements for credit if they have counterparts in the courses taught in the department. Those would include positions related to:
- Print and digital reporting and editing
- Web or print design
- Video and audio production
- Television and radio news reporting
- Nonprofit communication
- Law firm office operations
- Public relations agency work
- Online content creation and approved work with Internet service providers
Students often locate internships on their own, though the communication department also posts internship announcements online. Several Valpo support offices offer appropriate internships on campus.
Valparaiso University maintains a broader list of internships on Handshake (accessible only to current Valpo students). Students can visit IndianaINTERN.net, an excellent source of current internship openings around the state.
Valpo’s Career Center regularly hosts workshops on finding an internship and also offers one-on-one appointments for advising. They can help students:
- Brainstorm possible internships
- Contact employers
- Complete paperwork
- Complete an evaluation
To receive credit for an internship, students must:
- Register for COMM 386 before completing the internship (see the Registration tab)
- Complete a minimum of 90 hours at the internship location during the semester or summer session
- Keep a daily journal, write an exit paper, and submit both to the internship coordinator by the posted deadlines (see the Expectations of Current Interns tab)
While independent studies and work on Valpo’s student media are valuable learning experiences, neither of these can be considered for internship credit.
All internships are graded as Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory only. At the end of the internship, the on-site supervisor will submit a confidential written evaluation to the internship coordinator, rating the student on a set of criteria ranging from work quality to general attitude.
Registration is necessary for students who want to receive institutional support for their internship, including getting academic credit and meeting the department’s internship requirements.
- Identify an organization that is offering an internship in a communication-related field
- Make an appointment with Lanie Steinwart, internship coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Have the organization’s internship coordinator send a brief description of the intern’s duties to email@example.com
- Complete the University’s required Student Self-Transportation Agreement and turn it in to the Department of Communication office
- Await permission from the internship coordinator, and then register for COMM 386 (2 credits)
To receive credit and fulfill departmental requirements, students must register and pay for COMM 386 in the semester that they are completing the internship. Summer internships must be registered and paid for as part of summer session. No retroactive credit can be given after an internship is completed.
The internship coordinator is available to answer any questions about this process.
Because an internship is a learning experience, students must actively reflect on their experiences throughout the internship and at its conclusion.
Interns complete daily journal entries throughout the internship and submit them through Blackboard. The writing should summarize the work the intern did each day, and the intern’s reaction to it (e.g, whether it was beneficial as a learning experience, involved new skills, etc.) The journal aids in the student’s reflection and learning throughout the internship and as she or he prepares the exit paper.
The exit paper, completed at the end of the internship, should be organized around the following headings:
- Type of work (e.g., production assistant, reporter, etc.)
- Equipment used (e.g., Adobe Photoshop, XLR microphones)
- Strengths of the internship
- Weaknesses of the internship
- Your professional goals (within five years)
The exit paper should be three to five typed pages, double-spaced, with one-inch margins. Interns must submit the paper through Blackboard by the appropriate deadline.
When should I do my internship?
The best time is during your junior or senior year, or the summer in between. That way you can show employers you have had recent experience in a position-related work environment while also having completed essential foundational courses. Many internship providers require that students have successfully completed foundational courses prior to beginning the internship (e.g., COMM 230 Desktop Publishing, COMM 251 Media Production, COMM 261 Media Writing Styles or COMM 265 Principles of Public Relations). Students may not be eligible for internships if they have yet to complete appropriate coursework.
Does the communication department assign internships, or can I choose one?
While the department can assign you to a particular internship, it’s far better if you use the internship opportunity as practice in obtaining your first job. That means contacting the internship provider yourself. The department has a large collection of available internships, locally and nationally (including support offices at Valparaiso University), on file. Just stop by and ask to see the internship descriptions. Regardless of where your internship will be, it must be approved in advance by the appropriate internship coordinator.
Will my internship provider require me to provide anything prior to starting?
Some providers, particularly radio and television stations, may want a letter from the department chair confirming that you are currently enrolled at Valpo while taking the internship. Contact the Internship Coordinator if you need such a letter.
Do I have to be registered for COMM 386 to receive internship credit?
Yes, and there are no exceptions. In particular, students doing internships in the summer must be sure they have registered for, and paid for, COMM 386 through the registrar’s office in Kretzmann Hall. Summer internships must be registered for during the summer session.
Are internships paid?
Some are; most aren’t. This does not affect whether the internship may be taken for academic credit.
If I’m not a communication major, can I register for COMM 386?
In general, no. The department maintains its internship program for the benefit of its majors. Exceptions: with approval from the internship coordinator, some communication minors, or those with individualized majors with significant communication components, may sometimes be approved for enrollment in COMM 386. See the internship coordinator.
Will the internship provider place any limits on what I can do during the internship?
Providers vary in what they will need interns to do. Some providers, particularly television stations in major markets (e.g., Chicago), may place significant limitations on what interns may do, because of union work rules. In such environments, the intern may be restricted to observation only. Students will need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of an internship that has such restrictions.