An internship is an applied academic experience conducted under joint faculty and employer supervision. An internship provides a student the opportunity to build upon, apply, and assess the concepts developed through the business school's curriculum and to further professional growth through a meaningful "real-world" job experience.
Internships give you a running start in your career and show employers that you have initiative, experience and are ready for the workforce. Further, internships can help you focus your career interests and offer a glimpse into potential career paths the classroom cannot provide.
In particular, the internship experience leads to:
- Increased professional skills
- Increased confidence in yourself and your abilities
- Greater familiarity with the business environment
- Knowledge of specific industries, organizations, professions, occupations, and positions
- Deeper appreciation of the key role of communication skills in business
- Greater insight into the interactions between people as a critical factor in business success
- Better understanding of the importance of teams in business
- Expanded network of business professionals
- Increased relevancy of subsequent coursework
- Full-time career and employment offers
- Ability to hit the ground running in your first position after graduation
Internships typically last at least one semester. Any internship compensation will be established by the employer. Both paid and unpaid internships are available. The employer and the intern will mutually agree upon the work schedule.
The internship should be a new job or a new experience within an existing job. The work performed should lead to new learning, discovery or growth for the student and contribute toward the student's academic program. It is important to note, therefore, that many potential jobs will not meet the standards for internship credit.
The internship should provide realistic exposure to career experiences in the student's chosen academic major. The assignments should be substantial and practical - including analysis, evaluation, and application of applicable business and accounting concepts.
While providing an educational experience that complements a student's academic studies, the internship should also provide value to the host organization.
A student can earn three (3) credits toward their degree requirements by enrolling in the internship course within their major.
Undergraduate students can earn three (3) credit hours at the upper-division level, which can be applied to one of the elective courses within a major.
Graduate students can also earn three (3) credit hours of internship credit, which can be applied toward their elective courses.
In order to earn the three (3) credit hours, a student is expected to perform their assigned tasks and responsibilities professionally under the supervision of their employer for a minimum of 160 hours during the semester. Students must also abide by the rules and regulations established by the employer and expected of all employees. The student commitment is for the entire semester even if the 160 hours have been accomplished prior to the end of the semester.
An undergraduate student must meet these criteria to participate in an internship for credit:
- GPA of 3.0 or higher
- Junior status or higher
- Completed a minimum of 12 credit hours of business coursework at Wayne State University with a passing grade
- Completed the core course(s) with a minimum C grade in the chosen major or obtain the approval of the chair of the respective academic department
A graduate student must meet these criteria to participate in an internship for credit:
- Completed all core courses in the respective graduate program at Wayne State University with a passing grade
- If enrolled in the Master of Science in Accounting or the Master of Science in Taxation programs, completed at least 12 credit hours of graduate accounting courses or obtain the approval of the chair of the Department of Accounting
Registering for the course
A student must do the following to receive approval for an internship for credit and to enroll in the respective course:
- Obtain an internship position.
- Complete the appropriate Internship Application Form, with the supervisor's signature and information included.
- Obtain an offer letter on company letterhead. This letter should be signed by the supervisor or HR and must include his/her email and phone number. In cases where the internship has been previously well-defined, e.g., an auditing or tax internship in a major public accounting firm, the detailed description is not required. However, you should assume the detailed description is required unless you are instructed otherwise. See the chair of the respective academic department for clarification on specific internship approval requirements.
- Obtain a detailed job description on a separate page of paper outlining the specific functions and tasks you will be performing.
- After the host organization has signed the Internship Application Form, submit the completed form, the offer letter on letterhead, a detailed job description on a separate page, a current copy your resume, and a current copy of your transcript to the appropriate academic department/program administrator:
- Contact the internship coordinator through the applicable department email address noted in these guidelines. The internship coordinator will contact you to schedule an in-office or telephone consultation to discuss the internship.
- Complete the Internship Application and send it, along with other necessary documents noted in these guidelines, to the internship coordinator for approval.
- The department will deliver the approved Internship Application Form to the Frederick Hessler Student Success Center (undergraduate) or the Graduate Programs Office for authorization. Once the application is approved you will receive an email allowing you to register for the Internship course. Please allow at least five days before registering.
- For Marketing and for Global Supply Chain majors/concentrators, the Canvas site will be activated for that particular internship course. These guidelines, the link to the Placement Survey, and a dropbox for submitting required assignments will be set up on the Canvas course site.
Applications for the internship course will not be approved for an internship that is completed or in progress. The Internship Application Form must be approved and submitted before classes begin for the respective semester.
Students are eligible to participate in one internship for credit in their undergraduate or graduate program.
The internship course will not meet as a regular class; however, the following course requirements must be met to earn course credit:
- Perform job requirements in a professional manner.
- Maintain regular and prompt attendance, as agreed upon with supervisor.
- Become familiar with the expectations of the internship.
- Maintain a weekly journal reflecting on the experiences as an intern and documenting the various activities/tasks/duties/work and knowledge gained. The journal facilitates retention of specific events and provides a basis for retrospection.
- Spend time as appropriate with managers in other units. This exposure helps develop a better understanding of the organization's mission and strategy, competitive environment, organizational structure, etc. These contacts should also be documented in the journal.
- Write and submit a paper at the end of the semester in which you assess the internship experience, discuss items learned, and relate observations and experiences to concepts learned in your core and elective classes. The emphasis should be on observation, analysis, and evaluation of the experience, organization, and industry rather than on a detailed description of tasks and duties. If you worked in a team, you might discuss the team dynamics and how this affected job performance. If you dealt with multiple clients, you might discuss your observations and conclusions on client relationships and how they impact client retention or billing. The paper will not be shared with your employer without your approval. The paper should include a 2-3 page executive summary that describes the highlights of your internship experience. Papers should be approximately 10 pages, including the executive summary. Proper grammar and composition are required, as the ability to communicate effectively is critical in business.
- Obtain a performance evaluation from your supervisor at the host organization and submit it with the other materials.
- Complete the Biz School Placement Survey for your internship and provide written proof that it is completed.
- Submit all of the above materials to the academic department administrative assistant in hard copy or online by no later than one week before the end of the semester for which you are receiving credit. For Marketing or Global Supply Chain Majors/Concentrators, submit the required items noted above to the dropbox on the course Canvas site by the deadlines indicated on the Canvas course site.
The internship course is graded on a Satisfactory (S) / Unsatisfactory (U) basis. However, the standard for credit will be high. An internship is a professional experience and students will be held to a professional standard with respect to organization, content, and writing of both the weekly journal and the final paper. Failure to complete the internship and/or required submissions will result in an incomplete (I) for the final grade. A student's grade will be based upon the following:
- Performance evaluation completed by employer
- Activity journal submissions
- Executive summary and final paper
- Completion of the Biz Career Center Placement Survey and submission of proof of completion
Obtaining an internship
The Career Planning and Placement office and Handshake are valuable resources in your internship search. Other resources for internship opportunities include:
- Career fairs and Meet the Accounting Firms events
- WSU business school alumni
- Student organizations
- Personal networking and contacts
Cooperative education (co-op) program
The Mike Ilitch School of Business also participates in the University Cooperative Education (Co-op) Program in which students alternate semesters of work and academic study. Eligibility for the Co-op program begins in the junior year or upon having earned more than the minimum 54 semester credits.
Students interested in this program should contact the Career Planning and Placement Office, 229 MIKE; 313-577-4781.
Students admitted to the Co-op program with minimum junior standing should recognize that an additional calendar year may be needed to fulfill the requirements for the bachelor's degree.
No academic credit is granted for participation in the Co-op Program; Satisfactory (S) / Unsatisfactory (U) grades are given, however, and are entered on the official University transcript.