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Four reasons underlie the department's conviction that an internship is invaluable in preparing students for their career after leaving Whitworth:
- Preparing for the job market: Finding an internship and spending a concentrated time in a work environment is the best way to gain experience in the field you may enter after you graduate. An internship also helps you build professional contacts for a future job search. It is extremely difficult if not impossible to get a full-time job in any communications field without having had internship experience in that specific area.
- Confirming career goals: An internship provides a valuable check to determine if you really do want to pursue a particular career area, and gives a first-hand look at the working environment for the given profession.
- Making connections from the classroom: Internships help you apply what you have learned in classes to the job situation. If students have a semester or more left after completing the internship, they also may wish to select courses to address certain questions or concerns that arise during the internship.
- Learning what it means to be on the job: An internship helps students learn the norms and expectations of the professional workplace. Many students have never worked in an office or other formal work environment, an experience for which the classroom simply cannot prepare them.
Finding the right internship for you
The communication studies three-credit internship is designed to be a capstone experience. That means that you already will have considered career options and that you anticipate pursuing a job after graduation with responsibilities very similar to those from your internship.
You are encouraged strongly to do multiple internships during your college career, and most students do two or three. However, except in special cases, students complete only one internship for credit in our department
Freshmen and sophomores in particular should consider job-shadowing professionals in several fields. Identify organizations that are doing the kind of work that you want to do. Contact someone within that organization and ask to follow him or her while he or she works. Once you have observed several professionals or more, you will have a better idea of what you do or do not want to pursue. You also may want to try an exploratory internship without credit to gain experience and widen your exposure to different fields. The department’s internship supervisor is available to help you consider options.
After you have explored your opportunities and narrowed your options, you will be ready to seek an internship for credit. The Whitworth Career Center can help you with researching available opportunities, preparing a résumé, and setting up interviews. Know that you are responsible for identifying and securing your internship, but do not commit yourself until you have cleared the site with the communication department’s internship supervisor.
Getting paid for doing your internship is a wonderful bonus. Unfortunately, paid internships aren't as plentiful as we'd like, and in some highly competitive areas (such as TV), many more students desire internships than there are opportunities available.
Internships can take place during the fall or spring semesters, as well as in Jan Term or the summer. Students earn one academic credit for 40 hours of internship work. Most students complete the required three academic credits in a single term, meaning they work at least 120 hours over the course of a semester. However, students may spread work over more than one semester, for instance taking two credits with 80 hours of work at one site in the fall and 40 hours at another site in Jan Term.
Communications internships must meet all the following criteria:
- The internship must be in a field you plan to pursue after graduation.
- The internship must be work that a college graduate would do, with less than 40 percent of the total work time being observation or clerical. (Note that time in training sessions cannot be included in the required 120 hours.)
- The internship must be either at a site you have not worked at previously or a significant change in job responsibilities.
You will have to complete a contract and a liability waiver before starting the internship. The contract will include your signature and the signatures of the site supervisor and the Communication Department’s internship supervisor. You will be expected to keep a time log and to complete a workbook during the internship, and to check in with the Communication Department’s internship supervisor at about the midpoint of the internship.
Whitworth requires you both to pay for your internship and earn academic credit during the term when the work occurs. That means if you complete an internship in the summer, then you must receive credit and pay for that internship in the summer. Retroactive credit is not granted.
If you are a Communication Studies major, you can register up for either JMC490 or SP490. As you would expect, the JMC internships are media-related, while the SP internships relate to some aspect of speech communication.
Our students have completed numerous internships in news media, public relations, ministry, and government, just to name a few. Previous students have held positions at locations such as:
- Catalyst Marketing
- Cascade Radio Group
- City of Spokane
- Corner Booth Productions
- Dutch Bros. Coffee
- The Fig Tree newspaper
- Funnelbox Productions
- Girl Scout Mountain Prairie (Colo.) Council
- Inland Northwest Homes & Lifestyles Magazine
- New Horizons Community Church
- The Northwest Inlander
- People to People
- Pinnacle Investigations
- Power 101.9
- Red Cross
- Relevant Magazine
- Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers
- Sacred Heart Hospital Foundation
- The Salinas Californian
- Sen. Maria Cantwell
- Sen. Patty Murray
- Shiloh Hills Fellowship
- Spokane Center for Justice
- Spokane Chiefs
- Spokane Excelsior Youth Center
- The Spokesman Review
- Vision Launchers
- Washington State Legislature
- World Concern
- Young Life