English Co-Op and Internship Info

The following is general information about setting up and completing an internship/co-op for the Professional Writing Program at Western Carolina University.

What is an internship/Co-op?

An internship/co-op is an intensive writing, editing, or research experience with an employer in a professional workplace. An internship is an unpaid working experience, and a co-op is a paid one. The internship/co-op is required of all professional writing students, but it is available to all English students. For example, literature students thinking about graduate study might consider working on a research project with a faculty member.

An internship/co-op counts as 3 credit hours, and requires students to complete a certain number of hours in the workplace as shown in Table 1. Grades are Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory.

Important: Final portfolios are required for all internships/co-ops.

Table 1: Required Hours for an Internship/Co-op

English 483: Internship English 389: Co-Op English 589: Graduate Internship
Unpaid Paid Unpaid
150-200 hours 300-400 hours 150-200 hours
Final Portfolio Contents and Deadlines Final Portfolio Contents and Deadlines Final Portfolio Contents and Deadlines

Preparing for an Internship/Co-op

The internship/co-op is the culmination of your course work. You must have sufficient instruction in professional writing and editing before you can do an internship/co-op. In most cases, this means you cannot do the internship/co-op until you near the end of your coursework during your last year at WCU (you must have senior status and have completed at least three of the four professional writing elective courses). You also must have permission from the director of the Professional Writing Program before you start looking for and scheduling your internship. This guidance is to ensure that you have sufficient coursework to support the work you will be doing during your internship/co-op.

Because the internship/co-op is equivalent to a part-time or full-time job, you should not plan to do the internship/co-op while taking a full load of classes during the fall or spring semester. Instead, it is best to do your internship/co-op during the summer before you graduate so that you can devote your time more fully to this workplace experience.

Students search for and obtain their own internships; however, you do receive guidance from the director of the Professional Writing program and from Career Services. You should begin looking for an internship/co-op six months to one year in advance.

Process and Timeline

1. Prepare your application materials (six months to one year in advance)

Make an appointment to speak with the director of the Professional Writing Program to discuss your internship. Bring a current resume.

2. Search for internships (six months to one year in advance)

The director of the Professional Writing Program has leads on internships and can provide you with contact information for potential internship employers. Career Services has information about internships and students can use JobCat (jobcat.wcu.edu) to search for internship opportunities. Please visit their web page (Career Services) or go to their office. They are located in Killian Annex, Second Floor, #205, 828-227-7133. The contact person in Career Services is Dean Paulk (dspaulk@email.wcu.edu).

3. Apply for internships (three to six months prior to the semester you plan to do the internship)

Revise your application materials based on feedback from the director of the Professional Writing Program, and send your resume and a cover letter to employers you are interested in working with. Be sure to fulfill all application requirements per the employer.

4. Attend an internship orientation in Career Services

Students use JobCat to track their internship, and you must attend an orientation to learn how to use this system. Visit the Career Services page or contact Dean Paulk for orientation dates and times. The internship orientation will take about 20-30 minutes, and it will include information on professional etiquette and the online paperwork process. Students can RSVP for sessions through JobCat by clicking on Events, then on Workshops. Dean Paulk will typically have pre-set sessions at the end and beginning of each semester. Following the internship orientation, you will complete an internship application by clicking on My Account, then on Internship Application in JobCat. Internship applications will only be approved once you attend an internship orientation session. After your application is approved, you will submit a Code of Conduct form for your internship, which can be downloaded from JobCat by clicking on Resources, then on Resource Library.

5. Register for English 389, English 483, or English 589 (for graduate students)

When you have secured an internship with an employer, ask the employer for a written job description, which you will upload in JobCat. After you have attended the JobCat orientation and uploaded the internship application, code of conduct, and job description, you will receive an email from the director of the Professional Writing Program that you may now register for the appropriate internship class. You will need your alt pin from your advisor to register for this class. Late registration results in late fees, so it is advantageous to ensure all of your paperwork is submitted on time.

6. Begin work as an intern

You and your employer negotiate your start date. Keep in mind that you have one semester to complete the necessary internship hours, so plan the number of hours you will complete each week and stay on schedule (not completing the required number of hours or the portfolio [see below] could delay graduation). Keep track of your hours and save the work you complete on the job. You will use your work examples for the electronic portfolio due at the end of your internship.

7. Mid-term evaluations

During the middle of the semester or summer session, you and your employer will be contacted for a mid-term evaluation. You should meet with your employer during this time to discuss your progress and goals for the rest of the internship.

8. Submit your internship portfolio

The electronic portfolio is submitted through JobCat one week before semester classes end (see the current academic calendar for the last day of classes [not finals], and go back one week for the due date). See the handout on portfolio content emailed to you at the beginning of your internship.

9. Final Evaluation

Near the end of your internship, your employer will complete a final evaluation with Career Services. You should meet with the employer for an exit interview and discuss your overall evaluation.

10. Program Evaluation

Complete a Program Evaluation through JobCat at the end of the semester or summer session. You will evaluate your experience on your internship.

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