Skip Navigation

Internship Guidelines

During your studies at Gallatin, you have an opportunity to engage in an internship: a credit-bearing work experience in a non-classroom environment. You might intern as a research assistant in a cellular biology lab, lead a PR campaign for a new brand, work in digital media for a pharmaceutical company, or learn negotiation strategies working for a politician.

Whether you are planning for a future internship or you have already registered for one, there are certain procedures and guidelines that you need to be aware of. Below are some suggestions about things you can do to prepare for the internship, to get it underway, and to make it a positive and valuable experience. We encourage you to do whatever it takes to make your work as educationally meaningful as it can be.

Consult with your Academic Adviser

Before researching an internship placement, students should discuss with their academic adviser the possibility of participating in an internship and how it fits into their academic program. Discuss your goals and academic objectives.

Choosing the Internship Site

You may select a placement site in a number of ways. Think about the kind of work you want to do and the kinds of things you want to learn. Talk with your academic adviser about your internship goals and objectives and how it will connect to your academic program.  Then talk with the Director of External Programs.  Alternatively, you can secure your own placement and/or consult with NYU's Wasserman Center for Career Development. Finally, you might choose to turn your paid employment into an internship if you plan to do something above and beyond your normal job responsibilities.

Ideally, your choice of internship should be consistent with your Gallatin Plan of Study. You should be able to justify it in terms of the goals and objectives you have identified with your adviser for your overall college career. Many students choose a placement that is clearly and directly related to their concentration, and that’s perfectly sensible, but not a requirement. You can also think of the internship as an elective; an exploratory experience useful for engaging new ideas, practices and problems. You do need to articulate an educational rationale for doing this non-classroom learning.

Before selecting a placement site all students should read the NYU Wasserman Center's information on Important Considerations Before Accepting a Job or Internship.

Articulating the Educational Rationale for Your Internship

Once you have selected a possible site, you should call the contact person there for an appointment to discuss the details of the arrangement: job description, hours, supervision, learning goals, etc. When you reach an agreement with the placement contact person, you will complete two documents:

  • The Internship Proposal - describes the logistics and details of the internship arrangement. It also states the number of units you will earn for the internship. The proposal is first given to the adviser for written approval. After adviser approval, the proposal is then submitted to the Director of External Programs.
  • The Learning Contract – a more extensive statement of the goals and activities, supervision and evaluation procedures, and other aspects of the internship. The contract is a product of a negotiation among you, your supervisor, and your adviser, and can be used to remind everyone of the details of what you’re doing, what your supervisor and adviser expect of you, and what you can expect of them.

The completed Proposal should be submitted before the semester begins. It is required for your registration process. The Director of External Programs will issue an access code after approving your proposal. The Learning Contract must be submitted no later than two weeks into the semester; you and your supervisor may need a little time to determine what the details of the placement will be.

Number of Units, Meeting Hours, and Grading

  • Students may enroll in as many as (but no more than) four internship units per semester (fall, spring or summer). The number of units is determined by the number of hours worked at the placement each week over the course of the semester. Typically, 3-4 hours per week is equivalent to 1 unit, and units are adjusted from there.

*PLEASE NOTE: 1) Students should be reminded that because internships are credit-bearing non-classroom courses, tuition and fees for an internship course are generated in the same way as those for a classroom course.  This means tuition and fees for an internship are based on the number of units for the internship course. 2) Students admitted to the Gallatin School in Summer 2015 and later may take a maximum of 24 units in internship during their studies at the Gallatin School. 

  • A typical 4-unit internship will require approximately 12-16 hours/week of on-site work. Internships for more than 4 units are granted by special approval by the Director of External Programs.
  • All undergraduate internships are graded Pass/Fail. The faculty adviser assigns the final grade, which is based on the meetings, the journal and the written work, as well as the supervisor’s performance evaluation.


Submit the site confirmation letter.

At the same time as submitting the Internship Proposal Form, students should contact the onsite-supervisor to request a confirmation letter (on official letterhead), detailing the student's internship responsibilities and work schedule. The letter should be submitted directly to the Director of External Programs. The confirmation letter should be submitted before the semester begins.

Learning Contract: Due by the end of the second week of classes.

The Journal

As soon as you start the internship, you will begin keeping a journal. Students develop their own styles in writing these documents, but it is important that you take it seriously and write in it regularly (after every visit is best, but every week is minimally acceptable). The journal is more than a sketchy log of activities, (“made phone calls, taught class”). Rather, it describes your activities in some depth, as if you were an ethnographer writing field notes on your own experiences. Moreover, it reflects on those activities. It identifies themes, questions and problems, and makes connections with theories and academic literature. You should submit your journal to your adviser periodically so that s/he is up to date on your progress, questions regarding your work, and any challenges.

Meeting With Your Adviser

During the internship, you and your adviser should meet periodically to discuss your work and learning. You need to report on what you’ve been doing, (submitting your current journal before the sessions is a good way to get the conversation started), how you are progressing towards your learning goals, (check the Learning Contract), and what problems have arisen. Your adviser will help you to connect your experience to academic and professional concepts, and may suggest supplementary readings that will help you reflect on the work.

The Workshops

Twice during the semester, you will attend workshops which will help you maximize your learning and meet the requirements. The first one, typically two weeks into the term, orients you to the process and helps to construct a framework for understanding the kinds of things you will be learning and doing in the placement site. The second workshop helps you think about the forms and content of the final paper. The Director of External Programs will contact students regarding details.

The Progress Report

At midsemester, you will submit a Progress Report about your internship to the Director of External Programs. This form will alert the school to any problems that might need to be addressed.


The Performance Evaluation

A few weeks before the end of the term, you will receive an Internship Performance Evaluation via email. This form is part of the internship requirement and must be given to your internship supervisor. The information it contains plays an important role in your adviser’s determination of your grade for your internship. It must be completed and returned to the Director of External Programs, as stated on the form. These forms are also available on the school website as well.

The Final Paper

The major written work for the internship is a final paper, which you will submit to your adviser near the end of the semester (the deadline is up to the adviser and you and your adviser and should be submitted before the end of the semester). The strategies for writing the paper vary, depending on your interests, your adviser’s expectations and the nature of the internship experience. The paper is intended to be a substantial piece of work reflecting not only a report of your activities, but an analysis of issues related to the work, the organization and its environment. Most final papers make reference to some readings as well as to the work activities, and many relate the analysis to academic and theoretical questions and frameworks. For a 4 credit internship, the paper is typically 15-20 pages.

Suggested Themes the for Final Paper

  • Organizational History: How did the placement organization emerge in its environment? Who started it and when? What forms did it take in its early stages? How has it changed over time? What is likely to happen to the organization in the future?
  • Organizational Structure: How are the roles and functions divided up in the organization? Describe the organizational chart. Who reports to whom and who are the clients or customers?
    Productions Processes and Technologies: How does the work get done and in what order? By whom? Using what kinds of knowledge and skills? How do the technologies shape people’s activities, their relations, status and power?
  • Workplace Culture: What are the beliefs, values and conceptions of the world that people in your organization share? How do they think and feel about power, gender, ethnicity? What are dress codes and use of language and physical space in your company? Describe the culture of the people there.
    Power and Status: Who gets what kinds of power and how is it challenged or used? How is power exercised in certain situations? Is it authoritarian or democratic?
  • Ethics: What values and principles underlie the organization’s work and relations? How do people determine what is right and wrong and what is acceptable or permissible behavior? What sorts of ethical dilemmas arise at work and how are they handled and by whom?
  • Finances: How is money generated and allocated in the organization? Who makes decisions about finances and what criteria do they use? What does the allocation of money say about the values and priorities of the organization?
  • The Environment: How do factors external to the organization affect its work activities, strategies and success? Factors might include technological changes and the markets, as well as government regulations and economic trends.

Timeline of Responsibilities

  • Site Confirmation Letter: Before the semester begins
  • Proposal: Before the semester begins
  • Journal: Kept from the beginning of the internship and submitted to the adviser periodically during the semester
  • Learning Contract: Due by the end of the second week of classes
  • Workshops: In the second and sixth week of the fall and spring semester
  • Progress Report: Due mid-semester
  • Final Paper: Due by the end of the semester (due date is set by the adviser)