Internship

Internship

Guidelines

AMS 192 offers academic credit (P/NP grading) to students who have arranged for an approved internship, either through the campus Internship and Career Center (ICC-South Hall) or, in special cases, through another mechanism. AMS 192 is a variable unit course, from 1 to 12 units, depending on the time commitment required by the internship sponsoring organization. The rough formula is 1 academic unit for each 3 hours’ commitment per week for the ten week quarter. The student need not take as many hours credit as the commitment would allow. The internship must have an identified supervisor.

Students receive AMS 192 credit for academic work that enhances the internship experience, not merely for the time invested. The academic component is an “added value” to the internship. The faculty sponsor and the student intern agree to an explicit contract describing the expectations for work earning a “Pass” for the units.

In American Studies we understand an internship to be the occasion for fieldwork in an American institution. Thus, the American Studies intern acts much like an anthropologist or sociologist or folklorist would, entering “the field,” keeping a fieldwork journal of the experience, and returning “home” to write about the cultures observed in the field in the form of a written “ethnographic” essay.

The fieldwork journal, therefore, is a crucial element in the internship experience; the final ethnographic essay is based on the field notes and communication (in person or via e-mail) with the faculty sponsor. The student intern should write in the journal every day, if possible, but certainly very soon after a day’s internship experience. The journal entries can take the form of brief notes, stream-of-consciousness writing, and (later) some more self-conscious, analytical writing. The journal records basic aspects of the cultural scene—the office layout, for example, and the main “players” in the scene. At first the journal entries will be merely descriptive; throughout the quarter, the student ethnographer should strive to become more analytical. Certain sorts of questions and issues always help—such as: who has power in the organization and how do those powerful people exercise their power? What differences do gender, sexuality, age, ethnicity, social class, and other human particularities make in this scene? As an ethnographer looking for the expressive aspects of the culture of this work scene, the student should pay attention to the customs, rites, rituals, ceremonies, celebrations, play, stories, jokes, pranks, and other elements that make up the symbolic culture of the organization. In short, while the intern pays some attention to the formal culture of the organization, including its goals and expressed values, the intern-as-ethnographer is also interested in the informal culture of the organization and the ways these two cultures reinforce each other or collide.

To help the student understand the basic nature of organizational cultures, the faculty sponsor will have the student read one or more books and articles (the amount proportionate to the units). Terrence E. Deal and Allan A. Kennedy’s Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life (Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2000) is a commonly used text.

American Studies Handbook 2007-2008 10 Updated 07/07

Due at the end of the internship quarter is an ethnographic essay describing and interpreting the culture of the organization’s workplace. The goal of the essay is not to “summarize” the internship experience but to analyze the cultures of the organization. The essay should have a strong, organizing thesis and use concrete examples from the field notes to support the thesis.

In summary, the AMS 192 student intern agrees to fulfill the following obligations in exchange for the academic units the internship carries:

  • keep a fieldwork journal and periodically send the faculty sponsor copies of the journal entries;
  • complete readings, as contracted with the faculty sponsor, and integrate those readings into the fieldwork entries;
  • communicate, ideally in person, with the faculty sponsor throughout the quarter; and
  • write an ethnographic essay (typically 2,000-3,000 words) analyzing the cultures of the organization.