An internship is a great way to learn how to apply ideas and concepts that you’ve learned in the classroom to a real-world work setting. As part of your Geography program, you are eligible to participate in an internship and receive credit towards your degree. Students are responsible for finding an internship, but the Undergraduate Advisor can help students with where they can look. Our alumni have been a major source of internships, as have several public and private organizations in the local area. Internships provide not only practice in applying concepts, but professional contacts and job experience that can enhance any resume.
Below you will find more information about what an internship is, where you can find internships, how you obtain faculty authorization, and the process of obtaining credit for your internship.
Basic Requirements for an Internship
- A well-defined internship project with a government agency, non-profit organization or business
- A faculty advisor who approves the project and signs a written contract with the student
- An on-site work supervisor
Finding an Internship
There are many resources for finding internships:
Use Handshake (https://career.uoregon.edu/handshake), the University Career Center-sponsored resource that provides a comprehensive list of jobs and internships tailored to students around the country.
- USAJobs.gov has a great listing of internships and jobs for current or recent students.
- All majors in the program are added to a listserve where opportunities are sent out every couple of weeks.
- Most job search engines like Indeed and Monster.com also have internship catagories.
- Use your network! Do you know local people who know people? Ask around.
- Ask the undergraduate advisor to connect you to an alumni or local agency who might be looking for jobs.
Most students start their own internship by contacting agencies or organizations directly, based on their interests and expertise. A good strategy is to have an idea of what that agency or organization does and how you might fit in and contribute before you contact them. Don’t just contact someone and say you're interested in an internship, talk about what you can provide and what you want to learn.
Students should read through the Internship Syllabus to get a clear idea of expectations of internships and a more detailed outline of the process they need to go through to set one up. There is some paperwork involved in to ensure that the experience is educational and to provide accountability. Please make sure you complete each part. The student is responsible for making sure that the paperwork is completed.
Places that students have worked in the past include the Eugene City Planning Department, the National Forest Service, Lane County Soil Conservation District, Lane Council of Governments, Beyond Toxics, Quantum Spatial, the New York Times, National Geographic, and Watershed Councils in the region. This is a brief list.
Internships require a faculty advisor, which can be any faculty member in the Geography Department. Prior to contacting an advisor you need to have an idea of what you want to achieve through your internship, how many credits/ hours you expect to commit to it, and what kind of outputs you expect to create (a paper, a project, etc.). Ideally you should have contacted the agency or organization you intend to work with to have an idea of how to address these issues.
The internship supervisor is the person involved most closely with the student over the course of the internship. Students should clearly articulate the skills they are bringing to the agency, organization or business before the start of the internship, and they should openly discuss their goals for undertaking the internship with the on-site supervisor. These should be reflected in the Internship contract.
The faculty supervisor is the faculty member who’s interests most closely reflect the tasks and goals of the internship. You want this to be a faculty member you have at least met or taken a class from. Their role is to ensure that the internship provides some value to a student’s academic experience and that the internship provides a quality experience. They can also provide professional support, answering questions about navigating the workplace and tasks. Depending upon the supervisor, the student may be required to submit a final report or project.
The internship coordinator is the Undergraduate Director. They sign off on the internship to allow a student to register for credit after they ensure that the internship contract reflets the need for rigor and accountability.
Once the outline of the internship is clarified with the faculty supervisor, the internship supervisor and the student, the student intern must complete a contract to be signed by the faculty advisor, the internship supervisor, the internship coordinator, and the student at the beginning of the quarter. This contract includes a basic statement of the job description and learning objectives of the internship; the number of credits awarded for the internship; and a description of the expected final output.
If a student goes this route and wants to earn credit, the standard is 3 hours of work per week per student credit hour. This means an internship for 12 hours a week would be 4 credits. Under most circumstances, students can receive up to 6 credits in one term for an internship. Typical internships range from 2-4 credits; 3-4 hours of internship work per week translates into 1 internship credit hour. Internships may be extended to a second term with approval from all parties.
Forms for Completing an Internship
Please read the Internship Syllabus for specific details about requirements, timelines and more.
- Internship Syllabus
- Internship Contract
- Registration Form
- Time Sheet
- Site Supervisor Evaluation Form
Still have questions?
Please see our Frequently Asked Questions (below) or contact Leslie McLees (firstname.lastname@example.org), the Geography department internship coordinator, for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions About Internships
How do I initiate an internship–just what do I do?
Students should prepare a one-page résumé of basic facts–name, address, phone–followed by dates of availability. Also needed is information about the type of internship desired–cartography, GIS, planning, hydrology–and information about classes or experiences that qualify the student for the desired internship. Students should take their résumé to a potential faculty advisor as early as possible—three or four months before the start of the internship is not too early! The advisor may provide some input on how best to articulate your qualifications and the type of internship you are looking for. However, it is up to the student find the the agency or organization with which to conduct an internship. A faculty advisor may have knowledge of something specific, but the student should be prepared to do some footwork themselves to find one.
Where can internships be arranged?
Most Geography internships are in Eugene or Springfield, but students have initiated internships around the country. Students are increasingly finding remote internships as well, which has benefits, but also disadvantages. Consider what exactly you're looking for when you decide between remote and in-person. To arrange an internship, the student proposes an arrangement between a Geography faculty advisor and an on-site work supervisor.
I got a good job last summer. Can I get internship credit for it?
No. Internships need to be pre-arranged with clearly planned geographic content and regular communication between the student and the faculty advisor during the course of the internship.
What about “paid internships?”
Geography internships are educational experiences. Current policy is hat you can be paid for an internship while earning credit. Part-time jobs do NOT qualify for internships unless there is a specific agreement with the employer that the student can do an extra project to get internship credit. For example, summer Forest Rangers have sometimes done projects beyond the scope of their jobs to receive internship credit, e.g. producing a nature trail brochure “after hours” based on pre-arrangement for the extra project.
How long are internships?
The University operates on the academic calendar. Internship credit agreements run for one academic term, but they may be renewed for a second term if everyone is willing. A letter from the on-site work supervisor must be submitted to the faculty advisor at the end of each term before credit is awarded.
How are credits arranged?
After the internship is arranged, the student intern registers with the faculty advisor for Geography 406—Field Studies credits, P/N basis. Total effort during a term is 100 hours for four credits–about 90 hours of effort “on the job” and about 10 hours to keep the internship work log and prepare end-of-term report. With 4 credits, most interns work two half-days per week. It is possible to count internships (GEOG 406) towards concentration credits, but this can only be done in consultation with the undergraduate advisor, and it is not a given. The student must demonstrate good reasons for this, focusing on the learning and application of geographic concepts.
Initiating an internship seems like a lot of effort. Why should I bother?
Employers look for people with initiative and practical experience. An internship is a way to demonstrate initiative, gain valuable experience, and continue to learn by applying your “book knowledge” in a problem-solving work environment. It is also a way to earn a good letter of reference, and internships can occasionally turn into longer term positions.
What other internship opportunities exist?
Other departments have internship programs, probably similar to the Geography program. If you are majoring or minoring in another department, ask your advisor or the department’s administrative assistant if internship opportunities exist through that department. There are also reputable nation-wide organizations that advertise internship opportunities.