For a successful and productive internship experience, both the intern and employer need to enter their relationship with clear expectations. In Communication Internship, CMM 498, students prepare a written plan for workplace assignments and outcomes through the Educational Objectives. These objectives become part of the Internship Learning Agreement, which is the major preliminary course document that students need to complete registration.
Objectives identify specific areas of knowledge and skills that you want to develop during the internship. They provide direction for your internship experience. It's like pulling out of the driveway on vacation: Which direction do you turn? Educational objectives tell you to go left or right, up I-75 or over to I-70. You might end up on a scenic route for a while, and that will be okay, as long as you continue to grow.
Educational objectives help interns to:
- start the internship with purpose and direction,
- successfully integrate their internship experiences with their classroom knowledge and practices, and
- clearly articulate in job interviews what they know and can do.
Written objectives also are useful for days when your boss and/or co-workers get extra busy and forget about you at work. You then can suggest that you work on objective 1 or 2. Many UD interns have done just that with effective results.
As a result of your internship, you should be able to clearly see where you have grown, whether you have developed competencies, and/or attained a certain level of competency in particular areas. The knowledge and skills that you gain also will be documented by tangible examples of your work to be displayed in an end-of-the-semester portfolio. You can use the portfolio to help secure future internships and jobs.
Thinking about Objectives
Statements such as “This internship will be a good starting point in my career” or “I want to learn a lot” don’t work as objectives because they are vague and vacuous. Instead, consider the following:
- Already acquired skills and knowledge that you are ready to apply on the job,
- Skills and areas of knowledge that you want to improve or develop,
- New skills and areas of knowledge that you want gain,
- The internship job description.
How do you identify the knowledge and skills you have now? Think about the classes you’ve taken and some of the things you learned in them. For instance, in Media Writing, CMM 330, you learned how to write a simple news story and a short broadcast script, among other things. In PR Writing, CMM 360, you learned how to write a situational analysis and a fact sheet. In Video Production, CMM 342, you learned how to use the Avid system. In Statistical Methods, CMM 412, you learned SSPS and survey design.
For those areas you want to gain and develop, think about required competencies in your profession. You can identify those through your textbooks, classes and analysis of job notices. Also think about levels of competency you want to attain for the different skill sets.
So, for instance, you might want to build upon your classroom practice is developing PR strategic plans. Perhaps you struggled with lead writing in your classes. In your internship you might want to improve your writing so that you can produce clear, complete leads that are free of style or grammar errors. Or, for example, you might want to improve your video editing techniques to meet entry-level professional standards or to edit more quickly to set time limits.
Keep the internship job description in mind. (Remember to attach the organization’s job description to the Internship Learning Agreement.) Be realistic. Accept that you might not be able to do everything that you want to do. Sure, you might want to anchor the nightly news or organize an event, but if those tasks are not mentioned in the job description, then you won’t accomplish them.
If you have the opportunity or inclination, consider discussing ideas about objectives with your worksite supervisor before the internship begins. The supervisor might be willing to add something more challenging and/or significant. Or, at least, he or she will note your readiness to try something important. That alone will pay off in 1) learning opportunities, 2) reference letter comments.Top
Writing Guide for CMM 498 Educational Objectives
- Start with your name, internship position, name of the organization and its location.
- Briefly state an overall learning objective for the internship. Keep that statement to no more than three sentences.
- Number each objective. Students seeking two or three credit hours must write at least five objectives. Students seeking one-credit hour must write at least three objectives.
Educational Objective Variables
Each educational objective will include each of the following variables and become part of your concrete plan for the internship:
- Learning goal
- Task(s) to achieve goal
- Time frame for achieving
- Total number for each task
- Competency and/or standard for success
Each educational objective begins with a vivid statement of learning. That statement does not describe a task specific to the internship. Instead, you want to identify a professional competency that applies to many different workplaces, that translates across companies. The internship tasks are ways to achieve the learning objective.
Keep in mind that your next employer will want to hear about the skills you’ll bring to his workplace. Identifying knowledge and skills specific to your career in your Educational Objectives will help you better articulate your capabilities in internship and job interviews.
So, for example, an educational objective might be to learn more about event planning strategies for sports entertainment that you learned about in communication and marketing classes, which you’ll identify by name (and not simply number). An objective might be to improve scriptwriting skills learned in electronic media classes.
Think about the verbs or action words in each statement of learning. Some good verbs are: gain, build, practice, improve, expand, enhance. Others include demonstrate, describe, edit, manage, develop, discuss, plan, operate, perform, summarize, recognize.
Avoid basic workplace givens, such as “learning new workplaces,” “get along with colleagues,” “review company manual,” “know how to greet people and answer the phone.”
Keep in mind whether you might need pre-requisite knowledge, skill, time and/or freedom at work to accomplish a learning objective. For example, just because website work is listed in the job description and you took Publication Design at UD, it’s unlikely that the employer will allow you to design and launch a new website for the company. Here’s where being realistic comes in.
Confine your objectives to what can be accomplished during a single semester and at your particular internship.Top
After each learning statement, identify the internship task(s) that will lead to specific knowledge or skill sets. The tasks describe what you’ll be doing – or hope to do – during the internship. They describe how you will achieve your learning goals. The internship job description becomes important here.
Through these tasks, you will produce the work that you can feature in your portfolio, which is the capstone project for earning academic credit.
So, for example, under a sports event planning objective, you might state that will attend strategy sessions for an upcoming event (in the job description) and that you plan to propose some ideas to the team leader (reasonable expectation but not in job description). A task for a scriptwriting objective might be to write a public service announcement during your internship at a non-profit organization.Top
Set deadlines for yourself for achieving each of your objectives, for completing specific tasks. These deadlines will keep you moving and accountable. So, for example, you might write:
- By the end of month one
- By week 6 of the term
- By mid-term
- By the end of the term
- By a specific date
Number of Tasks
Include the number of each task that you want to accomplish in your specific time period. The number will likely be arbitrary, but still provides a specific goal. It also serves as an indicator or your motivation and ambition. But be realistic. Limit the numbers to what can be accomplished during a single semester and at your particular internship.
So, in the sports event example, you might plan to attend at least two strategy sessions and propose at least two ideas by mid term.
If you’re interested in public relations, you might want to write at least three press releases by week 8 and a total of four press releases by the end of the internship.
Or, in a communication management position, you might want to help develop one customer survey by the end of the internship.
Some examples are:
- write five news releases
- produce two videos
- present at least two proposals
- participate in at least one media event
- increase sales calls by 10 percent after mid-term
These tasks will lead you to your desired level of competency at this point in your educationTop
Competency Level and Measurement of Success
How will you know that you’ve successfully achieved your objectives?
Identify some reasonable level of competency and how to measure it. Consider standards your professors set for similar work in classes. Consider entry-level professional standards. Think about a level of accomplishment that you want to achieve for each particular objective.
In other words, you don’t have to set the bar at perfect.
In the sports event example above, success might mean that at least one idea you submitted to the team leader will be accepted for development. In journalism, it might mean that at least two of your feature stories will have creative and enticing leads, as determined by your editor. Or it might mean that your script is written to style and is accepted for production.
- Accepted for broadcast
- Two interviews
- Presentation before team
- Exactly timed video and on deadline
- No more than two style or grammar errors
- Press release gets media placement
Summary & Final Tips
- Name, Internship, etc.
- Overall Learning Goal
- Educational Objective #1: goal, tasks, time frame, numbers, success measure
- Educational Objective #2: goal, tasks, time frame, numbers, success measure
- Educational Objective #3: goal, tasks, time frame, numbers, success measure
- Educational Objective #4: goal, tasks, time frame, numbers, success measure
- Educational Objective #5: goal, tasks, time frame, numbers, success measure
Keep in mind that the employer reads your educational objectives and signs off on them in the Internship Learning Agreement. So, consider them seriously and, of course, prepare them professionally.
- You can use bullets or narrative style.
- Be sure all variables are included. Remember, this document will help you get the work product to put into your CMM 498 portfolio.
- This document will come in handy when you write your Progress Reports and, at the end of the term, when you write your Reflective Essay.