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Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management and Leadership (MA NML )

Overview | Admissions | Curriculum & Courses | Forms & Resources

The Internship

The Internship - 8 Steps
Overview
Finding and Internship>
Internship Sites Past and Present
The Learning Contract - Download Learning Contract Template
Finishing an Internship

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The Internship - 8 Steps

  1. Contact the organization at which you want to intern.
  2. Get approval from the program director.
  3. Develop a learning contract with your organizational supervisor.
  4. Consult with your faculty supervisor to make sure the learning contract is okay.
  5. Get to work! Update your learning contract as you go.
  6. At the end of the semester, complete your learning contract and deliverables (any “product” of the internship).
  7. Submit your learning contract (including project summaries) and deliverables to your faculty supervisor.
  8. Ask your organizational supervisor to send an evaluation letter to the program director.

Overview

The internship experience is designed to provide supervised opportunities for graduate students to develop skills in specific areas that have been found to characterize effective leaders in nonprofit organizations.  These include the applications of theory and research in the nonprofit field to practical issues of planning, fundraising, program implementation, staff and volunteer management, and assessment of programs in nonprofit organizations.  The internship allows students to apply skills of formulating goals and mobilizing concerted actions, negotiating and guiding group activities, applying critical thinking skills and knowledge to organizational matters, and communicating effectively with diverse audiences.

These skills are developed and applied in the context of a variety of tasks of program design, management of staff and volunteers, communications with internal and external constituencies, program evaluation, resource development and allocation, organizational change, and other practical tasks.  The internship also provides access to issues and subjects for student theses and research projects that can extend knowledge and refine practice effectiveness in this field.  Students may either register for 3 semester hours of MNPO 7055 in each of their final two semesters in the program, or block the hours and register for 6 credit hours in their final semester.  The same site may be used both semesters or different sites may be selected, depending on the student’s learning needs and goals.  A copy of the syllabus for this course may be found here.

Finding an Internship

Students considering internships should talk with the program director about how to identify possible sites and to explore interests.  The director can also provide information about students’ previous experiences with some organizations. Resources for possible internship sites can be found below or in the student handbook.

When deciding where to intern, students should make sure the internship site offers the following:

The student is expected to spend approximately 20 hours per week on field projects over the course of the semester if enrolled in 3 credit hours, and approximately 40 hours per week on field projects if enrolled in 6 credit hours.  Students are also expected to keep a journal of experiences and learning during each of the semesters, which is for their own reflections, not to be handed in.

Students considering internships should talk with the program director about how to identify possible sites and to explore mutual interests.  The director can also provide information about previous experiences with some organizations.

Internship Sites Past and Present

Following are just some of the internship sites that our students have worked at in the past:

The Learning Contract

At the outset of each semester, the student will develop a learning contract that identifies specific projects to be carried out, steps to be taken, and work products to be delivered that will demonstrate gains in each of the skills included in the course objectives. The on-site internship supervisor will assist the student in identifying and planning projects of importance to the organization, developing plans of action and resources, deliverable products to be completed, time-lines, and criteria for assessing the quality of the products.

The contract will be reviewed and negotiated with the faculty overseeing the internship and the on-site supervisor before implementation. Within the first two weeks of the internship, students should turn their learning contracts in to the program director for approval.  Routine clerical tasks will not be accepted. The student, the supervisor, and the faculty overseer will meet as needed to develop, monitor, and assess student progress on projects identified in the student’s learning contract.

The contract may be designed in the form of a matrix, with specific projects or activities linked to particular skills to be emphasized by each. Specific deliverable products or reports must be identified in the contract, which will then be submitted to the faculty supervisor and organizational supervisor by the conclusion of each semester.

The learning contract should be a working document and will necessarily require updates and changes during the course of the internship. Any questions regarding the learning contract or the appropriateness of internship projects should be directed to the program director.

Finishing an Internship

Several things are required at the conclusion of each internship:

  1. The on-site organizational supervisor must send a brief letter of evaluation about the student's work to the faculty supervisor at the end of the semester.
  2. Specific deliverable products or reports that have been identified in the learning contract must be submitted to the faculty supervisor and organizational supervisor by the conclusion of each semester.
  3. The finished learning contract should be submitted to the faculty supervisor, and should include outcomes and a summary of each project.
  4. A public presentation (the colloquium) summarizing the student’s learning on a major project are required at the conclusion of the second internship.  On-site supervisors and friends and family are welcome to attend.