The MLS Student Handbook

IDS 890: Internship in Liberal Studies

About the Internship

Each MLS student must complete a culminating experience. There are three options: internship, project, or thesis. Taken in the final semester or two, the purpose of the internship is two-fold:

  • To integrate the knowledge learned in the core courses as well as the concentration, and
  • To give the student practical experience in a real world environment.

The successful MLS intern should have a broader understanding of the quickly evolving world and a greater understanding of the discipline he or she studied as a concentration. In fact, this requirement, above most others, is critical. The successful MLS intern will act as a graduate candidate, not just a graduate student. Those students who choose to do an internship for their culminating experience should expect to take longer than a semester to complete their culminating experiences.

Internship Proposal Guidelines (an example; obtain your guidelines from your advisor and instructor)

The first step of completing the internship is the submission of an Internship Proposal. The proposal is basically an eight to twelve page document that outlines the internship's basic processes and outcomes. Your advisor, your MLS faculty committee, and you should mutually agree upon the general topic of the proposal.

The proposal might contain many, if not all or more, of the following topics:

  • Introduction
  • Problem/Issue Background
  • Theoretical Considerations
  • Statement of Purpose and Objectives
  • Detailed Outline of Proposed Accomplishments
  • Timeline
  • Expected Outcomes
  • Criteria for Evaluation
  • Summary

The draft internship proposal should be submitted to your advisor. After your advisor and MLS faculty committee have had a chance to review the proposal, you will receive suggestions regarding additions or revisions. Your graduate advisor and MLS faculty committee will need a minimum of one week to review the proposal, so please be patient. Your advisor may need a phone conference/proposal meeting in order to clarify what you seek to accomplish. During the proposal meeting you should be prepared to detail your proposal and answer any questions relevant to your project. At this stage, your advisor, and possibly your MLS faculty committee, may make changes to the proposal, asking you to adapt your project in one way or another, to make it more academically enriching. Once the proposal has been approved, you may start on the internship.

Guidelines for the Student While Serving an Internship

During the internship you must be doing two things. First, and perhaps most important, you should be compiling notes and other relevant records over the course of the project. Notes should be taken to help you recall the important events of the experience. Documents should also be collected since many advisors find them informational and reflective of your performance as an intern. In many cases a journal is a very helpful tool in order to keep track of project milestones and your learning experiences. Second, you should be in regular communication with your advisor. Keeping your advisor apprised of the progress of the project is often easily done by sending frequent e-mails (your advisor may stipulate how frequently) about important milestones that have been accomplished.

Guidelines for Writing the Final Report

As your internship comes to a conclusion, several events are triggered. It is important that you contact the Graduate School to make sure you have declared your intent to graduate. This triggers an Examination Report to be sent to the graduate advisor. As always, you are responsible for meeting deadlines and monitoring your academic progress. The internship report will likely have a similar structure as the proposal, but the information will focus more on what was accomplished, rather than providing background and expectations. Notes and journals taken during the internship could, in an appropriate way, be included in the report. Work out specific expectations with your advisor. Upon completion of a draft of this report, you should forward a copy to your advisor and MLS faculty committee for review and approval. Your advisor and MLS committee may suggest changes to the document. Once the report has been revised a final draft copy should be forwarded to your advisor and MLS faculty committee, and a final defense meeting may be scheduled. The defense may be done virtually, so that you do not have to come to FHSU's campus. Please give your graduate advisor and MLS faculty committee at least one week to read and prepare for the final internship defense meeting.

The final internship defense should be an opportunity for you to demonstrate what you did in your internship, as well as what you learned from the internship. Some level of questioning, and perhaps some confrontation of ideas and conclusions, will characterize many of these defenses. In some cases, you may be asked to rework elements of your internship or internship report. If this is the case you must contact the Graduate School and change your graduation date, if need be. If you need to re-defend your internship report, then you would repeat the process outlined above.

The final defense has dual purposes. First, it has to be a final reflection on the internship. Second, the final internship defense is the final examination of the student (unless the student takes the comprehensive exams after the completion of the internship). Therefore, elements related to coursework and how that information pertains to the internship are fair game. A final internship defense can take an hour or more to adequately cover the many intricacies of the internship and how it relates to your program of study. Ultimately, your advisor is looking at the widest range of attributes of the soon-to-be graduates, including:

- Ability to articulate and defend theories in your concentration
- Understanding of applicable research methods
- Objectivity in conducting your inquiry
- Amount of learning through coursework
- Amount of learning through the internship process
- Ability to act in a professional and "Masterful" manner

(Revised 8/29/2007; 1/2/2008)


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