The role of the faculty mentor
An internship is an experiential learning opportunity for which a student earns credit. As in any course taken for credit, academic assessment is done by a member of the faculty. As a faculty mentor, you will guide the student during their internship: you will help him or her choose an internship, formulate learning goals, complete an internship contract and assess learning. The faculty mentor periodically communicates with the student and may communicate with the site supervisor as well. The final task is to determine if the student has fulfilled the terms of the internship contract and assign a grade. Mid-term and final evaluations filled out by the student and the host site will also help in this process.
Here is what the internship process looks like for you:
A student seeking an internship in a particular discipline should seek an appropriate faculty member with knowledge of that discipline. They will likely be referred to you by your division dean, a program coordinator, one of your colleagues or by the internship coordinator. After discussing the internship possibility with a student you can decide to mentor or can refer the student to another faculty person. Internship mentors are compensated for their role. Your dean can go over this with you.
If you agree, you’ll conference with the student and together you will complete an agreement about the scope and purpose of the internship, the number of credits, as well as the learning objectives upon which the grade will be based. This is the internship contract. Your role here is to ensure a quality academic component in the form of measureable learning objectives, just as you do for your other courses. The student will get all necessary signatures, get the contract to your division assistant, and enroll and pay for the internship.
We recommend that a student keep a journal of what they are doing and learning, and then email the entries to you on a biweekly schedule. You might provide short responses to encourage and advise. For example, “Sounds like you are doing great, but are you addressing learning objective #3?”
We encourage you to contact the host site during the internship at intervals that you think are appropriate given the conversations you have with your student. If you learn of a problem that is of a serious nature (e.g. sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior by either intern or site supervisor, damage, injury, etc), you should immediately report that to the college internship coordinator.
Halfway through the internship, the site supervisor will complete an evaluation form sent by the internship coordinator who will forward you a copy. This may also be another opportunity to address issues.
At the end of the internship, you will meet with your student to review the learning objectives and to discuss evaluation of the internship. You may want to separately confer with the site supervisor to get their assessment. The site supervisor will return a final evaluation structured similarly to the mid-term evaluation. Using the following data, you will determine the final grade: initial learning objectives, student journal entries and conferences, any contacts with the site supervisor, evaluations provided by the site supervisor, and your own judgment. Having good documentation makes it easier to determine and support the grade.