An internship is an applied experience in which the student develops practical skills or knowledge that would not be attainable in a classroom or laboratory environment. Contacts made with professional partners outside of the university will provide students with an invaluable experience meshing classroom training with real world problem solving. The internship is an “apprenticeship” in which the student is actively involved in the day-to-day application of their discipline’s paradigms, theories, and methodologies in the working world. The internship must add breadth to the student’s understanding of their discipline. An experience in which a student washes glassware at a biotechnology company for 4 weeks would not be considered an internship because this experience does not deepen the students understanding of the real-world application of scientific information.

Internships (BIO 481) provide experiential opportunities during the regular semesters, winter term, and summer. Internships may be full- or part-time experiences and they may or may not be paid experiences. At Elon University, students completing internships receive 1 to 4 semester hours of credit toward their major or minor depending upon the number of hours for which they have registered. Each semester hour of internship credit corresponds to a minimum of 40 hours of on-the-job experience.   Consequently, a student would have to work full-time for 4 weeks to log enough on-the-job experience for 4 semester hours of credit. The Biology Department experiential requirement can be satisfied by a 1-credit internship (40 hours of on-the-job experience) but students are encouraged to gain as much work experience as possible before graduating. The on-campus sponsor of a biology internship (BIO 481) will be one of the full-time faculty members of the Biology

Department Procedures for Setting up and Enrolling in an Internship

  1. In your freshman or sophomore years, attend the internship presentations of other students. Begin the process by thinking about what types of internships would help you to work toward your professional development goals. You might want to volunteer at places of interest prior to arranging an internship contract. Paid internships are available but to secure such an opportunity you must begin the search process early.   Completing certain courses in your first two years of college will equip you with the skills that internship program supervisors are looking for.
  2. Start your search for a suitable internship position in the spring semester of your freshman year or in the fall semester of your sophomore year. Check the Elon Career Center website, department bulletin boards, the file cabinet in the McMichael Library/Conference Room (McMi 117) talk to junior or senior biology majors, talk to faculty, and talk to parents and relatives. Many students decide on summer or winter term internship opportunities in their hometowns. Each student will have to do the calling and leg work to set up this kind of opportunity. There are many paid internship opportunities available but obtaining one requires a willingness to start early to ensure that you apply on time and secure timely recommendations from faculty. For example, application deadlines for many summer internships are during the preceding January and many winter term opportunities have deadlines in mid-September.
  3. In your sophomore or junior year, after you have applied for one or several internship possibilities identify a full-time faculty member who has related interests. Approach this person, outline your plans, and secure their permission to act as faculty sponsor should your internship plans materialize.
  4. Once you have been officially notified that you have been accepted for the internship, go to the Career Services website and complete the Experiential Education Registration Form/Contract. Make an appointment to meet with your faculty sponsor to complete the form together. However, prior to that appointment, take the time to write down your specific goals for your internship and how you intend on attaining them. This information will help the meeting with your sponsor proceed smoothly.
  5. During the meeting with the faculty sponsor, make sure you both completely understand and agree with the specifics in your contract.   You should understand what is expected of you and how your grade will be determined. Make sure you ask any questions you have so that there are no misunderstandings. Subjects that could be covered in this meeting include the proper audience for your oral presentation, the length and subject of your literature review, the number of expected citations in your literature review, and the dates and times when it is best to contact the faculty sponsor. It is not necessary that all of these considerations be set in stone prior to the start of the internship but the student should have a good idea of the faculty sponsor’s expectations.
  6. Turn in the completed Experiential Education Registration Form/Contract to the Registrar’s office once it has been completed and signed by the faculty sponsor, student, student’s academic advisor, and the Biology Department Chair.
  7. In addition to turning in the Experiential Registration Form the student must also register for BIO 481 during the regular registration period.

 Internship Eligibility Requirements

The eligibility requirements of an internship are:

  • junior or senior standing (students who wish to complete an internship during the sophomore year must petition the Biology Department Chair for permission
  • minimum GPA of 2.0
  • approval of the full-time faculty member supervising the internship

Internship Academic Requirements

The specific requirements for the successful completion of each internship (BIO 481) are at the discretion of the Biology faculty sponsor. The exact requirements will be agreed upon by both student and sponsor at the time the Experiential Education Registration Contract is filled out. The Experiential Education Registration Form/Contract can be obtained at the Career Services office. The internship must be defined and agreed upon by all partners PRIOR to the start of the experience. It is the responsibility of the faculty sponsor to maintain communication with the student’s on-site supervisor throughout the course of the internship. It is the responsibility of the student to maintain communication with the faculty sponsor back on campus. Typically, the minimal requirements for a Biology Internship (BIO 481) will include:

  • a journal with daily entries throughout the period of the internship. The first entry is made prior to starting the experience and should be a substantial, reflective assessment of how the internship will facilitate attaining your future career goals. The daily entries must not simply be an account of the day’s activities but also include comments relating your activities to your academic experiences at Elon and your career aspirations.  Your journal should also document your number of hours of on-the-job experience.
  • 5 conversations with your faculty sponsor regarding your internship plans, progress, and final assessment. One contact should be made prior to starting the internship, three contacts should be made during the course of the internship, and a final contact at the end of the internship experience. If possible, an on-site visit by your faculty sponsor should be arranged.
  • an oral presentation to an appropriate audience agreed upon by the faculty sponsor and student
  • a current review of the relevant scientific literature on some topic related to your internship. The topic will be chosen in consultation with your faculty sponsor. The literature review should be a coherent, well-written assessment of our current knowledge citing recent sources. The length of the review and the number of expected citations are at the discretion of the faculty sponsor.
  • a personal growth essay written soon after the end of the internship experience. This essay is a reflective assessment of the value of the experience to your development as a professional.   It should not be written until you have had time to mull over your feelings and impressions away from the job. It should draw connections with your previous academic experiences and your future career aspirations. It may be written as the last entry in your daily journal if your faculty sponsor permits.
  • any other requirements specified by the faculty sponsor.

Internship Grading Criteria

The grade will be determined by using some formula determined by the faculty sponsor. This formula should be made known to the student at the time the Experiential Education Registration Form/Contract is signed by both parties. Typically, the student’s grade will be based upon the following:

  • written and oral evaluations provided by the student’s on-site supervisor
  • daily journal
  • literature review paper
  • oral presentation
  • personal growth essay
  • other criteria that the faculty supervisor and student have discussed

Some examples of locations our students have done internships at: