An internship is for your career what a dress rehearsal is for a theatrical event. It’s an opportunity to use the communication skills you’ve gained through your university coursework in a professional environment, dressing and acting as you will when you graduate from college and enter the workforce.
Internships are positions companies offer students on a short-term basis. They might be full-time or part-time, paid or unpaid, and available near or far from home. Internships help you—and prospective employers—see what your strengths are and where you still need practice. They also help you determine the types of roles you’d like to pursue in your career and the kinds of companies with which you’d like to seek employment. For these reasons, many students choose to pursue multiple internships during their college experience, and often, those who do have a smoother, easier transition into the professional world.
Obtaining an internship is not a quick or easy process, though. Companies often receive many applications for each position they are offering, which might take weeks or even months to review. Most students apply for multiple positions before receiving an invitation to interview with a hiring manager. Successfully securing an internship requires that you start building your brand as a professional communicator now.
That means you should do the following—as a college student—to start developing a professional reputation:
- Read job descriptions on a regular basis, even if you won’t pursue an internship for a semester or two. What are companies asking of entry-level employees—that is, what skills do those employees need to have? Use the information in job postings as a personal checklist. What have you already learned? What do you still need to know? If you encounter terms you’re not familiar with, research those topics.
- Learn how to give an “ elevator pitch,” or talk about yourself and your professional skills in a brief, appealing way.
- Maintain a professional appearance. Some students choose to start wearing now the kind of apparel that they will wear to work following graduation. They say they find that doing so increases their sense of proficiency and helps others see them as a professional rather than “as some college kid.”
- Learn and follow professional-correspondence practices. How do you answer your phone? What kind of voicemail greeting have you recorded? How do you address faculty or other professionals when you see or email them? Are you considerate of their time? Do you use professional language, or do you talk to them as you talk to your peers? Do you follow professional email standards, or are your messages lax, full of slang, and punctuated with emoticons?
- Evaluate how you use your (and others’) time. Are you punctual in arriving to class and to work? Do other members of group projects have to wait on you when you meet? Can you participate in class without being distracted by social-media apps on your phone that aren't related to the course discussion? If you can’t behave professionally in a classroom, it's not likely you'll be able to do it in a boardroom.
- Create an online portfolio using WordPress. Organize your portfolio well, and continually add content to it as you take classes, complete practicum experiences and pursue internships and jobs.
- Develop a quality résumé, and learn to tailor cover letters to different companies. The team in the University's Career Networking Center can help you with these tasks if you're not familiar with what you need to do.
- Network with those you meet. You might find that roommates, classmates or ward members can introduce you to people they know who work in the communication field, which might lead to your learning about internship opportunities. Additionally, you can network through these university resources:
- BYU-Idaho Alumni Association: Connect with graduates of the university using the Mentor Finder tool or LinkedIn.
- Expeditions: The university offers several internship expeditions each year that involve traveling to a particular city and talking with experts in various fields about internship and job opportunities with their respective companies.
- Societies: Getting involved in practicum experiences and other organizations that the Communication Department offers provides good career-preparation opportunities.
Use your time at BYU-Idaho to practice professional habits. Request feedback from faculty, employers and community members who know you well. As you build your reputation, you'll be ready to apply for internships, which you can read about below. From there, you'll be center stage with your career.
Questions and Answers
What does my internship need to include? How long should it last? How many hours do I need to work?
- Internships must be at least seven weeks long and can last up to 14 weeks. (They can actually be longer, but only the hours contained within a semester count toward the credit you earn.)
- You must work at least 150 hours total to earn credit. Please note that even if you complete 40 hours per week and reach the 150-hour mark four weeks into the internship, you are still required to work at least seven weeks as noted above. Please also make sure that you finish your position at a time that is convenient for both you and your employer—don't check out simply because you have met the work-hour requirement. For work-hour requirements for different credit levels, please see the "Credits" section of this site.
- The position must be relevant to your major, specifically in one of the following areas: advertising, broadcasting, copy editing, event planning, graphic design, journalism, photography, public relations, social media or video production.
- The internship needs to be completed prior to graduation. Some students prefer to complete their internship after all of their other coursework is finished, and many of them participate in graduation ceremonies prior to leaving Rexburg. If you choose to follow this pattern, you'll have one semester following the graduation ceremony to complete your internship. Delaying this will require that you reapply for admission to the university.
- The position may be paid or unpaid. Some employers who offer unpaid internships will require confirmation from the university that you will be receiving academic credit. If yours does, please request that verification from Brother Marc Skinner, the Communication Department's internship coordinator. In your message to him, please include the following:
- The name of the company contact to whom the letter should be addressed
- His or her mailing address (even if the letter will be delivered digitally)
- Details about the format in which you need the letter (hard copy or PDF)
- Details about whether you'll send it or whether you need Brother Skinner to send it
- Internship providers must be in a position to provide any equipment or other resources a student might need in his or her responsibilities with the organization. Communication Department equipment and resources cannot be used for internships.
- The position may be an onsite or remote one. Please keep in mind that in either scenario, you'll want to seek opportunities to network with your colleagues. The university's internship office requires details about the method and frequency of supervision for remote internships, so if your internship is remote, please include that information in your application for credit.
- The position may not be a retail or summer-sales job. Sales positions that offer an office environment and long-term career opportunities might be approved as internships (please see the internship coordinator for details), but temporary, door-to-door sales positions will not. In addition, travel-abroad programs that involve teaching English and apartment-management jobs don't meet the department's internship requirements. These provide great service and employment opportunities, but not academic ones. Finally, please note that while the Disney Internship program offers some great benefits, it does not meet the university's criteria for academic credit.
- You should have a supervisor at work to whom you report. This person must be trained in communication and have a communication function/title so that you are receiving industry-specific mentoring. If you find a position in which your supervisor wants you to fill a communication role but is not trained in communication himself or herself, the position will not be approved as an internship. You might, however, be eligible to receive practicum credit for such an experience. For instance, a restaurant manager might be able provide a great social-media position for you in promoting her business, but since her role is not a communication-centric one, the position she offered you would not count as an internship. On the other hand, if you were working for a hospital creating a newsletter being supervised by the director of marketing, that position would be eligible for internship credit.
- On-campus communication jobs can, in some instances, work as internships when they are full-time, paid positions completed during your off-track. The position must be designated as an internship by the university. You can find out about campus positions designated as internships from internship office. If you wish to propose that a particular campus position become an internship, contact the internship office for detailed instructions.
- Each student needs just one internship credit to meet graduation requirements but can accrue up to three total internship credits over the course of his or her time at BYU-Idaho.
- Students wishing to complete multiple internships with one employer must have a different role or job description during each semester during which they apply for credit. For instance, if you are designing a website one semester and receive internship credit for that role, you might ask your employer if you could design print material the next semester. Of course, you are welcome to maintain the same position over several semesters—after all, longevity in a job is impressive on a résumé. You just wouldn't be able to receive credit for more than one of those semesters.
Do I have to find it myself? Where do I start? Who can help me? What if I need to stay in Rexburg?
Every student is responsible to find his or her own internship; here are some resources and ideas to help you in your search.
- The Career Navigator, available on the Academic Discovery Center website, is a large database of positions currently available in a variety of fields. Companies all over the world regularly contribute additional jobs, so even if you don't find something that's a good fit right away, check back often. Using a variety of keywords related to your major and emphasis will help. Please note that the College of Business and Communication distributes a regular e-newsletter that includes internship opportunities from the database that are relevant to students within the college.
- The department's Facebook page, "Brigham Young University-Idaho Communication Department," posts internship opportunities regularly. (Other Facebook pages and groups have similar names but are not the department's official Facebook presence.)
- Both the university and the Communication Department host career fairs each semester. Check with university and department calendars to find out when the next ones are and plan to attend.
- Church Service Missionaries in 11 major U.S. cities—Boise, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Jose, Seattle and Washington D.C.—have the assignment of helping BYU-Idaho students network to find internships in their respective areas. If you are from one of these areas, or if you've always wanted to live in one of these areas, contact the missionaries and solicit their help in your search.
- GoingGlobal offers career and employment information for 38 countries and 53 cities in the U.S. and Canada. International students who plan to return to their native countries and those who wish to stay in the United States may find this resource helpful. It also is useful for students from the U.S. who desire to work in other countries.
- The Church offers a variety of helps in employment searching, including employment centers, workshops and a website, ldsjobs.org.
- The Alumni Network, part of the BYU-Idaho Alumni Association, will help connect you with those who have graduated from BYU-Idaho and have agreed to help network with and mentor students like you. These graduates could be a vital resource not only for finding internships but also for getting insight about the transition from collegiate life to corporate life.
- The BYU Management Society is a premier organization for business professionals to network, develop careers and serve communities. You can join the BYU-Idaho chapter of this global organization and network with people in a variety of fields—people who could help you identify internship leads.
- InternQueen.com is a blog site dedicated to helping people search for, obtain and be successful in internships. The site's posts cover tips on the various aspects finding an internship and what to expect during your time as an intern, from starting to apply through the end of the internship. The site also allows internship searching by keyword or location. Some of the internships in the system are a year or two old, but they might still advise you about companies that offer internships, and you can further investigate those opportunities with the sponsoring organization directly.
- Journalismjobs.com is a great resource for internship- and job-seeking communication students and professionals. Here, you can search for communication positions across several dimensions of the discipline as well as across the world. In addition to the job aspect, the site also has resources for communication specialists such as information on media ethics and salaries, researching tools, social media links for communication-related companies and organizations, and a freelance-writing training course.
- The Poynter Institute has a job and internship database for various communication positions, mainly in the fields of journalism and broadcasting. In addition to the site's job and internship database, it has a video database with videos of tips on building a strong resume, personal branding, networking, and getting a position, among other things in the job- or internship-finding process.
- The Public Relations Society of America website is a great resource for finding communication internships. Its database includes options to search based on a key word, position title, location, job function, industry or organizational setting.
- The Academic Discovery Center has a collection of "list" books based on major metropolitan areas. For instance, if are looking at living in Seattle, visit the ADC in the Manwaring Center and ask for their "Seattle List Book." In it, you can find lists of advertising agencies, newspapers, TV stations and so forth. Such lists could be helpful in situations when you're looking for opportunities in a particular location.
- Whether or not a "list book" exists for your city, if you're looking to work in a particular place, try to find out the "major employers" of that region. Universities, municipalities, banks, hospitals and various commercial companies may be on the list. For help in identifying such companies, check with someone who has lived or who now lives in that area. Then, visit the "employment" section of those organizations' websites.
- GoingGlobal offers career and employment information for 38 countries and for 53 cities in the U.S. and Canada. This resource is helpful for students who hope to work internationally.
- A Linkedin profile can connect you to others in your field. The Academic Discovery Center offers workshops that will teach you how to better utilize this great resource. Start your profile today at LinkedIn.com.
- Networking through your personal contacts can also help. This could include professors, people from your home ward and stake (including your stake employment specialist), classmates who have completed internships and even friends.
- Contact companies you are interested in working for. Start on the organization's website in their "employment" or "about" section. If you don't see what you're looking for, consider contacting the human-resources department or communication group to see if they might consider letting you complete an internship with the company. Be sure to conduct research about the company first so you know what they're all about and so that you can be educated as you talk about possibilities with hiring managers.
- If you need to stay in Rexburg to complete an internship, perhaps because you need to intern part-time while you're in school or because of family commitments, your best option may be to look among opportunities with local nonprofit organizations. Although many such positions are unpaid, nonprofits are unlikely to turn away people willing to help their cause, and they often can offer flexibility with schedules and assignments that other companies don't. Moreover, this would be a great opportunity to affiliate your name with renowned organizations like the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity or the United Way.
Some students might feel overwhelmed looking for an internship. Don't feel like you need to try all of these ideas at once. Instead, consider setting aside a particular time each week to devote to your internship search. For instance, if you have a break Tuesday afternoon following devotional, devote 30 minutes of that block of time each week to trying one of the ideas listed here. As you work on this over time, you should start to receive responses and see results.
I've never applied for a job before—how do I do it? How do I put together a résumé and cover letter? How can I be confident and polished for the interview? What kind of samples should I include in my portfolio?
- First, do some research. Find out what the company is all about. What is its mission statement? Who are its audiences? What kind of industries does it serve? Try to find out as much as you can so you can tailor your application materials to the organization.
- Follow the instructions posted in the job description you find. Provide the application materials the company asks for and resist the temptation to include pieces it doesn't request. Don't inundate the hiring manager or the administrative assistant with phone calls or email. When possible, turn in your material well ahead of deadline to demonstrate your interest in the position.
- Career Services, part of the Academic Discovery Center, offers free workshops and seminars in résumé and cover-letter preparation as well as mock job interviews. To take advantage of these free services, view Career Services' schedule and sign up via the Career Navigator. The Presentation Practice Center may also be able to help you prepare.
- Not sure what to include in a portfolio? First, consult any instructions you may have received from the company to which you’re applying. Look at the work the company produces and see which of your work samples might correlate. Talk to contacts you might have inside the company and with professors for additional ideas. Make sure your work is polished and presented professionally.
- Some students wonder what to do when they receive an offer from one company but are hoping to hear from another. Please recognize that accepting an offer and subsequently rejecting it—for any reason—won’t reflect well on you professionally. If you’ve already indicated that you’ll be interning with a company, employees there are preparing training and getting projects ready for you, and your withdrawing would leave them in a difficult situation. Doing this could also significantly damage the Communication Department’s reputation, as companies see the actions of one person as a reflection of the company (or in this case, department) he or she represents. Accepting and subsequently rejecting an internship or job offer would likely result in that company’s not accepting BYU-Idaho students in the future, which would be a tremendous loss. One safe, professional approach to take is to accept the offer from Company A and treat the position as though it were your only opportunity. If Company B contacts you and offers you a position, thank the representative for the offer but tell him or her that you’ve committed to another company for the semester. Let the representative know you’re keenly interested in working for that organization, and ask whether the company is in a position to defer the internship offer to another semester, specifying when you’d be available to take it. Company B might not be able to do that, but showing your commitment to your current internship provider will likely leave a favorable impression. That would be advantageous if you were to apply for a position with Company B in the future.
Once you've received an offer from an organization, you are ready to apply for academic credit with the university.
How can I apply for credit for my internship? Do I approve my internship with the university before or after I've applied for the position? What paperwork is involved?
- The university won't authorize you to add the internship class, COMM. 498R, until you've been formally offered the job by the organization you're interning with. Of course, many students want to ensure they'll receive credit prior to applying for a job. If that's the case, please check the job description against the Requirements section for guidance.
- To begin the process of applying for credit, complete the university's internship application form. (If you need help with the form, please contact the Internship Office at 208.496.9827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.) Please be thorough and accurate in filling out the details; this will save you from having to revisit the form later.
- Determine if you will apply for 1 or 2 credits.
- Complete Approval form on Career Navigator
- Log on to Career Navigator with your NetID and password. You will be asked to complete a few profile questions if you have never logged in to Career Navigator before.
- Click on Internships in the Quicklinks menu on the home page.
- Click Add New
- Enter necessary information and submit. Be sure to include details that will allow those reviewing your application to know that your internship meets with Communication Department and University requirements.
- Your internship-approval form will then be sent to Brother Marc Skinner for review and approval.
- If you encounter technical problems or errors while using the system, please report them to the Help Desk at 208-496-1411 or BSCITHelp@byui.edu.
- Employees in the university internship office and Brother Skinner will each in succession review the application. If any of the parties have questions or need clarification, they will contact you directly. Otherwise, please wait for an email from the Academic Discovery Center notifying you that you can add COMM. 498R. If you are on-track, you may add the course directly; if you are off-track, Student Records and Registration may have to add it for you.
Depending on whether or not your employer has hosted BYU-Idaho interns before, the Academic Discovery Center may contact you about having your employer create a "master agreement," a contract made by the employer, the student and BYU-Idaho. It is your responsibility to ensure this happens quickly.
- The entire class will be conducted through I-Learn. You'll find a syllabus on I-Learn outlining course policies and procedures. Deadlines on assignments are strictly enforced.
- If you encounter any changes to your internship—including information relating to start or end dates, schedule or compensation—please report them to both Brother Skinner and the internship office immediately.
- The approval process can take anywhere from several days to several weeks, depending on the number of students applying for internships and how quickly you respond to instruction you receive from Brother Skinner and the internship office. Nontraditional internships—including those that are remote, on campus, outside of the United States, or entrepreneurialin nature—may require additional paperwork and approval and therefore, time. Please be patient and considerate of those who are helping approve your internship. Impatience, entitlement and rudeness will not be tolerated and could result in a deduction in your COMM. 498R grade.
How many credits can I earn? How much does this credit cost?
- The Initial Internship Approval form will ask you how many credits you would like to earn. Credits are determined by total number of hours worked: 150 hours = 1 credit and 250 hours = 2 credits. Three credits is the maximum you can earn over the course of your college experience, but only one or two credits can be earned for any one internship experience.
- Please be precise in your calculations—adjusting credits after you've been authorized for the COMM. 498R course is a difficult process.
- Note that many students prefer to take the maximum number of credits they qualify for because they see an internship as an opportunity to raise their GPA or because they need additional upper-division credits toward their graduation plan. Others prefer to request just one credit (even if they qualify for two) because that is what is required for graduation, because they don't want to pay for more credits than they need or because they're already approaching their credit limit.
- Internship credits are not charged per credit. Interns pay the equivalent cost of one credit, no matter how many credits they sign up for.
Does COMM. 498R have a syllabus? What do I need to do to earn credit? Do I have to fill out a weekly report?
- Once you are registered for COMM. 498R, you'll have several assignments, all available on I-Learn. Weekly progress reports are not necessary, although Brother Skinner is happy to hear from you any time you want to share what you're learning and doing.
- Toward the end of your internship, your internship supervisor will need to log in to the Career Navigator to evaluate your performance. This evaluation will, along with your assignments, be a factor in your final grade.
- Please note that if you quit or are terminated, you will not receive credit for your experience. You'll have to apply for an internship another semester. But don't be afraid of this happening. Virtually all students who approach their internship with a good attitude and a desire to learn have positive experiences. They achieve great things professionally and personally and are successful ambassadors for both BYU-Idaho and the Church. In fact, many students have received internships with a company because another BYU-Idaho student before them created a good impression of the university.