Student Guide to Internships in Land Use Planning

 

Effective fall of 2001, UWSP is requiring all incoming Land Use Planning undergraduate students to earn credits in an internship experience. The goal of this internship is to gain valuable professional and practical experience in the field of land use planning. This internship will primarily be done in their junior year of college. This is a wonderful opportunity for students and potential employers alike.
 

 Internship Basics

 

1) Why do an internship?

Benefits of an internship program include:
  • practical experience
  • recommendations for graduate school or future employment
  • development of professional relationships
  • an understanding of professional responsibilities and effective working relationships
  • reaffirmation of career goals
  • university credit toward graduation

2) When are internships available?

Summer

This is the most traditional time for internships. In general, the internships last approximately 12-14 weeks.

During school year

Fewer internships are available during the school year. This is an option for students that have a light class load during the semester and reliable transportation. School year internships are generally within 50 miles of Stevens Point.

3) What types of organizations provide internships?

Both private and public agencies hire student interns. They include: county and city planning and zoning departments, state and federal natural or agricultural resource, transportation and land management agencies, regional planning commissions, and private planning and engineering consultants.

4) What kind of work do interns do?

Intern projects include: assembling and analyzing data or maps for community planning projects, preparing educational materials, or helping with review of site or development plans, or inspection and enforcement related to zoning and other ordinances. There are many other possibilities. Most positions involve a 40-hour work week during regular daytime hours but some require attendance at weekend conferences or evening meetings.

Qualifications

Minimum qualifications may qualify you for an interview, but special skills and a good �attitude� will win an appointment:
  • enrollment in a university/college program in land use planning, natural resources management or a closely related field
  • strong oral and written communication skills
  • Basic knowledge of accepted planning principles and practices
  • basic/intermediate ability to utilize technology (word processing, data management, publication or GIS ,software).

5) Are the internships paid?

The majority of the internships are paid. Employers are advised that students expect to be paid a fair wage for the work that is to be performed. Unpaid and nominal pay positions will be posted for students that are interested.

 

 Academic Information

 

6) How is course credit applied to internships?

You must be enrolled in NRES 381 for a minimum of 4 credits and have the consent of your advisor in order to get course credit for your internship. To qualify for internship credit, you must have already completed both NRES 388 and NRES 389.

7) How many hours are required to fulfill the requirement of the internship?

A student can receive up to 4 credits for a minimum of 320 hours up to 600 hours of work.

8) Internship course requirements

You must complete all of the steps below to receive credit and graduate successfully.
 

a) Criteria

 
Your advisor will be your principle contact during the internship and grading procedure. There are 2 components to your grade:
 

i) Internship report (3-10 pages)

 
This paper will be due four weeks after the completion of your internship. The following information should be in the paper:
  • Agency name, supervisor, address, phone number, email address
  • Description of how the principles and concepts learned in CNR courses applied during the internship.
  • Description of the work and social skills that were learned during the internship and their professional value.
  • Evidence of application of intellectual skills. Materials/work products created during the internship should be appended to the report, (e.g., GIS maps, agency reports).

ii) Internship journal

 
A progress report in the form of a brief daily journal must be provided by the intern to the student advisor every two weeks to assure that both employer and intern experiences are satisfactory. The journal should include hours worked, tasks assigned, accomplishments and a description of issues related to the final internship report.
 

 Steps to Obtain an Internship

 

9) What are the steps involved in obtaining an internship? Picture (187x164, 3.8Kb)

Step #1: Resumes and cover letters

 
Your resume is one of the most important contacts you will have with a potential employer. It tells who you are and describes your academic, work and volunteer experiences. This �first impression� for your potential employer is extremely important. Never written a resume? No problem! The UWSP Career Services Office will help you (134B in Old Main, phone 346-4557or email mpagel@uwsp.edu). Your advisor is also able to look over your final draft and give you suggestions. The most important thing is not to wait until the last minute. Expect to write at least 3+ drafts of your resume to get it ready to send to a potential employer. Several websites and numerous books in the library are geared towards writing resumes. Cover letters are also important. They tell a potential employer why you are perfect for their job and allow you to personalize the job-seeking process. Many websites and books are dedicated to writing cover letters. Career Services will also be able to help you.
 

Step #2: Contacting employers

 
Most potential employers want you to send your resume and a cover letter and wait for their call to schedule an interview. Follow the directions on the employer�s internship announcement and call the employer if directions are unclear. When you start sending out your resumes and interviewing, check your answering machine regularly. Modify the message to assure that it leaves a good impression on potential employers. Let your housemates/ roommates know that you are expecting calls and how important the messages are so you can return the calls in a timely manner.

Step #3: Interviewing with potential employers

 
You may be called to schedule an employment interview via telephone or in person. Preparation for either type of interview takes time and a bit of investigation. Look up the potential employer on the Internet and get to know their type of work or agency mission and work philosophy. Be prepared for the questions that are asked in most interviews. Some of them may be-
 
  • Why are you qualified for this internship? (Why should we hire you?)
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? (Be prepared to give 1 or 2 for both- do not say "none".)
  • How does this job help you reach your future career goals?
  • Describe yourself in one word. (Or -Use three adjectives to describe yourself.)
  • Describe your experience in the field of land use planning.
  • Why do you enjoy land use planning? Why are you studying land use planning?
  • Why do you want to work for us? (This is where you can show that you"did your homework".)
For a telephone interview, be sure to be in a quiet area with no distractions. Be on time if you are to call or be ready if the potential employer will call you. For an in-person interview, dress professionally. Be on time for the interview (if not a few minutes early). Bring another copy of your resume to hand to the interviewer as you enter the office.
 

 Expectations and Responsibilities

 

10) What Does the Employer Expect from a Student Intern? Picture (187x164, 3.8Kb)

Your employer expects you to be a professional. This means to act, dress, and present yourself in a professional manner.
 

a) Work ethic

 
You are considered an employee of the agency that hires you. This is your job, even if you are not getting paid (or getting paid less than you would like). This means that you need to be on time to work and keep the hours that are stated in your contract.
 

b) Appearance

 
Depending on your job, dress will be professional or casual. Ask your supervisor when you are hired what the normal dress is for the agency. Be neat and tidy regardless of any co-worker example to the contrary. Appearances do make a difference in the manner in which you are treated, viewed and, eventually, paid.
 

c) Professional Responsibilities

 
You are responsible for:
  • asking questions when you are unsure about things
  • alerting your employer to any potential problems
  • getting your assigned projects done on time.

11) What should student interns expect from the employers?

Student interns have a right to expect particular information and actions from an employer.
 

a) Position and Project Description Each potential

 
employer has been requested to provide a position description and internship project description for the particular time period for which the job is advertised. This will give you an opportunity to match your skills and interests to an internship or to look for new experiences to make the internship as productive as possible.
 

b) Treatment as a Professional

 
Student interns have the right to be treated as professionals. This means that you are not expected to be a "gopher" for the agency or talked down to. Employers are aware that minimum "grunt work" is allowed but some routine or unpleasant tasks are part of most professions. Students should be able to apply their education and brainpower for the majority of the internship and, accordingly, should act like a professional. Keep yourself open to new experiences.

12) Student Responsibilities

Certain things are expected from students in regards to the internship and materials that must be submitted.
 

a) Find an internship

 
The student is primarily responsible for finding an internship, with assistance from peers, faculty and Career Services as needed.
 

b) Attend an internship orientation meeting

 
There will be a meeting at the end of the spring semester that is mandatory. The meeting will have two purposes:
  • explaining the minimum requirements of the internship program
  • allowing interns who have completed their experience to share informally with those who are just getting started.

c) Submit an internship proposal

 
A student must submit the position and project description for his/her proposed internship before work begins. The proposal must be approved by the agency/firm and include the name, address, and phone number of the employer.
 

d) Arrange for an evaluation and exit interview

 
The student evaluation by the employer should include a description of what the student accomplished and the hours worked. The university will provide the evaluation form. The employers will also conduct an exit interview with the student intern upon completion of the internship. Both of these techniques will provide student interns feedback about their performance.
 

e) Student report

 
See the section entitled "What is the grading procedure?" for details.
 

 Communication with UWSP

 
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13) Contact with university Picture (187x164, 3.8Kb)

You are expected to keep regular contact with your advisor, through both your progress reports and a scheduled work site visit from your advisor.
 

a) Meeting halfway through internship

 
Your advisor will visit your employer once during your internship experience. This will be scheduled to occur approximately halfway through your internship. The purpose of this visit is to check your progress and to help if there are any problems. Your supervisor must attend this meeting.
 

b) Progress reports

 
You will be expected to make regular progress reports (as mentioned previously). The purpose of this is to make sure that you are staying "on track" and meeting your deadlines. This can also be an opportunity to discuss any problems with your advisor.

14) What to do if you need help � potential problems and solutions

a) You can contact your advisor whenever you feel you have a problem. While your advisor may respond that your problem is a common one, he/she can help you think about different strategies to deal with the issue.
 
b) Any issues involving harassment or unsafe work conditions should be brought to the attention of your faculty advisor immediately.
 
c) When not to call (e.g. problems to work out that are part of the learning process) There are many situations and problems that can be addressed by you. This includes questions that are unclear about what is expected from you in your job. If you don�t understand how to do a project/task, ask your supervisor or a co-worker. Many problems in the workplace can be eliminated by communication and asking questions when you are unsure. In most cases you should attempt to work out the problem before you call your advisor (except as noted above).