Academic internships and cooperative programs exist so that students can build a bridge between their academic learning and their professional lives. These programs exist primarily for the student, but also serve a purpose for the university as a way to promote their academic program and for industry to become familiar with the talents and knowledge of new graduates. In a global economy where industries distribute work around the world, internship students may need a chance to become acculturated and familiar with this new professional environment. Distance internships may also provide opportunities for students that are not available locally.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Mentor: Usually an experienced professional who gives direction and guidance to interns and new practitioners.
Acculturation: The process of becoming a part of another culture. In this context, when students are employed and work in their chosen profession they start to acquire knowledge, practices, and experience that can only be obtained through the process of working with other professionals in their field.
Subject Matter Expert (SME): An expert in the field; someone who has specific knowledge concerning a subject.
Geographically-Distributed Teams: Teams that work together on projects but are separated by distance. This distance could be different offices in the same town or different offices in different countries.
Cooperative Program (Coop): Usually used to refer to semester long jobs where engineering students work for engineering firms on projects similar to projects and problems they would encounter in the profession.
Internship director: Usually a position held by a faculty member who matches the needs of students for work experience and the needs of industry for new practitioners.
Independent Study: A course where the student works with the instructor to construct a course that meets the needs and interests of that specific student. The student usually works alone and completes a final paper summarizing their research and study.
Practitioner: Someone who practices a profession.
Internship: A scholastic program for course credit that places a student in a work environment to learn the nature and practices of their profession.