Department of Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations

Wilson Hall, Room 316
371 Wilson Boulevard
Rochester, MI 48309-4486
(location map)
(248) 370-4120

Communication

INTERNSHIPS AND CAREERS

COM 4950, the internship class for communication and PR majors, now fulfills the capstone requirement for the B.A. in communication, and the B.A. in public relations and strategic communication.

Other reasons to complete an internship include:

  • Employers prefer students who have done at least one internship.
  • Interns fare better in a weak job market.
  • Interns get the opportunity to network and build relationships with people in their desired profession.
  • Interns can take their career for a test drive before they graduate.

Watch video testimonials from OU students who value their internship experience.

If you have any questions or would like to talk with someone personally about the internship course, please attend the mandatory pre-capstone meeting and/or contact Dr. Robert Sidelinger, internship director.

Prerequisites / Pre-Capstone Meetings

Students must have completed the following: COM 3000, or 3002, or 3003, or 3201 or 4201 at C or higher; 20 COM credits; and JRN 2000, or WRT 3064, or WRT 3082. 

Students who are registered for COM 4950 (the internship class) are also required to attend one pre-capstone meeting to learn how to go about setting up an approved internship. Lastly, students are required to secure an internship (and submit the proper paperwork) on or before the first day of classes for the semester they are registered. Those who have not completed all of the above are not eligible to remain in the course.

If you intend to register for the class, the next tentative pre-capstone meeting dates are:

  • Tuesday, 2/4/20 4:00-6:00 PM, SFH 370, and Friday, 2/14/20 2:00-4:00 PM, SFH 272.
  • Please be advised that these meetings are open to anyone. You need not be registered for the class to attend (but you must attend if you are registered for the class and you haven't attended a previous pre-internship meeting).
Requirements

COM 4950 is a four-credit course, requiring at least 12 full weeks and 150 hours of pre-approved internship work over the course of a 15-week semester. The instructor of record makes the final determination for designation of weeks completed. Most organizations feel students cannot gain enough useful experiences or complete their job responsibilities adequately without this minimum time frame; in fact, many organizations require a longer commitment (from six months to one year), especially if it is a paid situation. The value of the internship experience increases proportionately to the time students commit; however, only four credit hours may be earned for each internship experience, no matter how long the job lasts.

While some employers may want students to work full time (40 hours/week), the department does not recommend this type of commitment unless it is a paid situation. It is important for students to have an explicit understanding with their employer of the time commitment they will be expected to fulfill before they accept a position.

Usually students start an internship at the beginning of a semester. However, they may start an internship at any time during the school year - pending approval from the internship director. If the work experience extends beyond the end of the term when they are registered for COM 4950, a progress (P) grade will be assigned - again this must be approved beforehand. This is a hold grade, which will be replaced with a number grade as soon as the student's final report/clips and evaluation are received.

How to set up an internship

Register for COM 4950, the internship class, for the semester that you would like to do an internship.  Attend the next available mandatory Pre-Internship Meeting. You can attend a pre-internship meeting well before you register for COM 4950.

Make an appointment with OU Career Services on Handshake to have a career consultant review your resume and cover letter, and learn about Handshake. Make the revisions your consultant recommends and upload it into Handshake.


Students are free to apply to pre-approved internships on the department website.
Once all your materials (resume, cover letter) have been uploaded to Handshake, you may begin emailing your resume and cover letter to employers from the pre-approved list. It is recommended that you follow the time frames listed below, but you should check the specific date of each employer in case it is earlier:

  • Fall Term: Early July
  • Winter Term: Mid October
  • Summer Terms:  February / March

Otherwise, off-list internships need to be approved by the internship director before students apply. You should submit your off list-form to Dr. Sidelinger via email (or the instructor of record), by fax at (248) 370-4208, or in person at the main office of the Department of Communication and Journalism, which is located at 316 Wilson Hall. Once that off-list request is approved, students are free to apply.
The employer will contact you directly to set up an interview. The interview should be handled in the same manner you would handle a job interview:  wear business attire, arrive 15 minutes early, bring a notepad and pen to take notes, and bring extra copies of your resume and cover letter.

Once an internship position has been offered and accepted, complete the experience form in Handshake. This form is due no later than the first day of the semester you are enrolled in the internship capstone class, by 4PM. Overall, keep the following in mind:

  • Anyone who has not submitted all their materials by the first day of class cannot remain in the course.
  • If you start your internship before the first day of classes, you must complete all the above requirements and notify the internship director BEFORE starting the internship. You cannot start logging your hours until everything is completed.
  • Attend class sessions as noted in SAIL. Follow the syllabus.
  • Once your internship is over, send a thank you letter to your supervisor to thank him/her for his/her time and effort.


Important Note

It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all affairs are in order to secure credit for an internship. All internships must be pre-approved by the internship director before the student starts the internship (no retro-active approvals) and the student may not gain credit for an internship that the student has already started or completed without approval and/or oversight. The internship experience must be an entirely new experience for the student in a new setting. The student may not repackage his/her current situation, job, or volunteer experience into an internship experience or do an internship for his/her current employer. Since every job involves communication (even sanitation), the student is required to secure an internship that focuses on a college-level communication studies-specific knowledge base, such as public relations, advertising, political campaigning, radio broadcasting, television broadcasting, or the like, that will enable the student to secure a college-level, professional, communication studies-knowledge-based job in the future.

The internship director’s approval of an internship does not mean the student will receive credit for the internship. Reasons why credit may not be granted include, but are not limited to: failure to comply with the employer’s policies or OU’s policies (it is entirely the student’s responsibility to seek out all relevant information as it relates to policies of both OU and the employer), inappropriate behavior at the workplace, being fired from the job, and/or any dishonesty or unethical behavior related to the internship. Because the on-site internship supervisor assists in determining the student’s grade, the internship supervisor may not be a family member, close friend, or a person with whom the student has had or currently has a romantic relationship. Students may also be denied an internship if a family member or friend also works at the same site. Romantic relationships with employees at the internship workplace during the internship are discouraged.

If a student is deemed to have engaged in academic misconduct, the incident will be reported to the dean of students, the student will fail the class, and/or the student will receive disciplinary reprimand, probation, suspension or expulsion. See the syllabus for other important information. Cases of internship fraud or any instances of dishonesty related to the internship will be pursued to the fullest extent possible as allowed under the Academic Conduct Policy and any other relevant policies.

Available Internships
Unless otherwise stated, the following internships are unpaid and offered only for course credit. Before applying for any internship, see the internship information tab for prerequisites and steps for setting up an internship. This class has mandatory in-person class meetings three times a semester. Students also are required to attend a mandatory pre-capstone meeting. Internships that you want to apply to that are not on this list must be approved BEFORE you apply to them. If you have questions, please contact Dr. Sidelinger.

Pre-approved Internship Opportunities
Off-list Internships

Students can apply to internships not on our pre-approved list. In order to be approved, your internship must offer a legitimate opportunity for you to explore and gain professional experience in a career area related to communication. Generally, internships for COM academic credit must have or offer:

Specific beginning and end dates consistent with the fall, spring, or summer semester calendar.

The host employer company/organization is bonded and/or holds sufficient business and liability insurance to cover students interning with that employer and on their business premises or while on assignment for that employer off-site while completing his/her tasks as an intern. Students cannot work from home or out of state. The form and further guidelines can be found here. Once you complete the form, turn it in to the internship coordinator, Robert Sidelinger, in Wilson Hall 316.

Career Options

Experts have predicted for years that communication will become increasingly valued as we move into the post-industrial era. Clearly this is happening now. More and more employers are looking for people with strong communication backgrounds.

Pathways to Careers in Communication offers some key observations. Excellent communication skills are important in both social and career settings. Communication is the basis for relational development and maintenance, family cohesion and work success. The U.S. Department of Labor has declared there are 16 qualities for high job performance. Ten of those qualities are commonly studied in the field of communication: listening, speaking, creative thinking, decision making, problem solving, reasoning, self-esteem, sociability, self-management and integrity/honesty.

All of the pathways normally pursued for obtaining a job should be explored when searching for a position in communication. Job searches can include going to Career Services, listing with an employment agency, conducting informational interviews, doing internships, and networking with people who may be aware of job opportunities.

Some career options include:

  • Public Relations
  • Government Relations
  • Public Affairs
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Event Planning
  • Management
  • Radio Broadcasting
  • Radio Production
  • Television Broadcasting
  • Television Production
  • Grant Writing
  • Publishing
  • HR/Employment Services
Career Prep

Prepare for a career in communications:

  • Internships, part-time jobs and volunteer positions while you are a student often lead to future job placements. These positions often build networks in which you get to know people in various settings who do hiring or know of possible openings. It is strongly recommended that communication majors obtain a position, whether paid or voluntary, that allows for "hands-on" experience in the field.
  • Do informational interviews. Make appointments with people in your field who hold positions similar to your career desires. Ask them to describe the pathway they followed to obtain their position.
  • While studying for your degree, assemble information that shows your talents. A portfolio of writing samples, "demo" tapes, and copies of reports and group projects, all can be valuable in showcasing your talents.
  • When asking anyone to write letters of recommendation, provide them with the documentation they need to flesh out the statements about you with examples and illustrations. At a minimum, give them a resume that lists your school activities, work record and other information they may not have about you.
  • Students should visit (by their junior year) Career Services to have their resumes and cover letters reviewed. Students should also do a mock interview.  Additionally, this office assists students and alumni in identifying career-related full-time, part-time and seasonal employment opportunities. The office provides direct access to job opportunities through on-campus interviews, job referral activities, and Career Link. 
Resources

Job and career websites