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Reflective Essay for CMM 498: Communication Internship

Students in CMM 498: Communication Internship write a reflective essay about their internship experience at the end of the semester. The essay is submitted with their professional portfolio, which is the major, cumulative assignment for the course.

Overview

Most interns come to realize what they have learned and what they need to do next for their career development many months after their internship ends. By writing a reflective essay, you can begin distilling the internship experience immediately. The reflective essay deals with the meaning of the internship experience, providing the mechanism for you to evaluate your intellectual and professional growth.

The work that you put into the essay will serve you well during your next internship and job interviews. Employers usually ask candidates several questions about their learning experiences, their capabilities and even their shortcomings. In the reflective essay, you will analyze these very issues. Having thought them through, and in the format required (see below), you will be better able to articulate your specific development when questioned.  

In the essay, you will:

  • review your educational objectives and reflect on ways you met – or did not  meet – each one. (At this point, you will appreciate why you were asked to give the objectives serious thought.) Your progress reports, work materials and journal entries will likely provide the factual background (and refresh your memory) for determining and assessing your acquired knowledge and professional skills.
  • address a minimum of three competencies. That is, you will specifically describe what you are now capable of doing professionally.
  • note previous academic courses that helped during your internship experience, and your strategy for future courses and internships.

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Questions to Address

Here are some questions to ponder to get you started with the first draft of your essay. The questions below will help you formulate the content of your essay. You do not have to address all of the questions, but to write an essay that will be meaningful and beneficial for you, seriously consider several of them. Key questions that you do need to address, besides the issues noted above, are in bold. Also consider issues that might have been raised by your on-the-job internship mentor.

  • What were the best aspects of the internship experience?
  • What were the most negative aspects of the internship experience?
  • In what ways am I better able to work with others professionally?
  • What contributions did I make to the job and work place?
  • In what ways did I meet my educational objectives?
  • In what ways did I fall short?
  • How can I interpret these successes and failures?
  • What gains were most significant for me in terms of my base of knowledge?
  • In what ways am I more capable?
  • In what ways am I better able to assess my own work objectively?
  • What communication theories that I learned in classes did I apply or see applied on the job? What courses best prepared me for this position?
  • What courses or experiences do I need to continue my professional development?
  • What new insights do I have concerning the practices and problems in this professional field as a result of this internship experience?
  • What do I intend to do professionally – and perhaps differently – as a result of this experience?

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Required Format

Remember how a typical essay is structured, and do so properly for this assignment. You always want to practice excellent writing so that excellence becomes automatic for you.

  1. Your name, internship location and semester of the internship will be on the first page of the essay. Put your name and a page number on subsequent pages of the essay.
  2. The essay introduction will summarize the most important job tasks that you performed during the internship. Only mention work that was professionally oriented. All jobs include some mundane tasks; do not burden your essay with this information. The introduction will be only a few sentences and no longer than a paragraph (and a paragraph should be no longer than half a page).
  3. The essay thesis statement will summarize your significant growth or gains in knowledge and skills. The thesis won’t list everything you learned; try to group all your learning under different, appropriate and specific “headings,” which then can become part of the thesis statement. You should be able to come up with three to five aspects or competencies. The thesis should be one sentence, and no more than two sentences. After you’ve written the essay, revisit the thesis statement and rewrite/polish it so that it reflects the body of the paper.
  4. The essay body will provide the details of the learning experience. Here, you’ll address your educational objectives, the minimum of three competencies achieved, helpful courses, key questions (see above) and any other significant issues relevant to your particular experience. Divide the essay body into sections and use subheads to help with organization and to make the writing easier.
  5. Conclude the essay with your plan (strategy) for possible courses, training, new internships and/or post-graduation job. Many students leave internships with a new awareness of what they need to learn, how they need to enhance certain skills/knowledge, maybe where to take a turn in their career plan. See where your experience points you and write about that in the essay’s conclusion. The conclusion will be no longer than one page.
  6. The essay should be about five pages, double spaced, with 1-inch margins, set in 12 point Times Roman or 10 point Arial (san serif). Keep the essay to no more than eight pages.
  7. Use ssubheads to identify the thesis, body subdivisions and conclusion.
  8. Do NOT put extra line spaces above or below the subheads. To regulate spacing and keep it double-spaced throughout, go to paragraph in the tool task bar on your computer screen. Under spacing, set the before and after at zero (not auto). If your lines still do funny things, go to special under paragraph and set it at none.
  9. For the essay to be acceptable – and remember that all course work must meet minimum standards for you to pass the course – you must use proper English grammar. That includes spelling, style, paragraph structure, noun-pronoun agreement, subject-verb agreement, etc. Communication majors must be experts in English grammar and only proper English is expected of college students. If you see a paragraph continue more than half a page, then your structure is probably way off. If you are using a plural pronoun in reference to a singular noun, then your paper has grammatical errors. If you do not understand the references above, then get help from the Write Place in Roesch Library before turning in the essay. Essays with more than 10 grammatical errors (approximately two/page, which is excessive) will be grounds for a no pass. Take care with your writing.
  10. Following these directions will help make this assignment more efficient and effective. In the end, you will be able to present yourself with more confidence and substance at your next job or internship interview.

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