Stages of an Internship

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January 27, 2011

H. Frederick Sweitzer and Mary A. King developed five steps that students usually experience during an entry-level internship in their book, The Successful Internship.
1. Anticipation– In this stage, students are beginning the internship with excitement and some anxiety. They may worry that they are not prepared for the internship or worry about fitting in. Students should try to check with their supervisor to find out what to expect and to check if their assumptions are correct. Discussing learning objectives with the supervisor can also help.
2. Disillusionment– Excitement wears off, and students might feel some disappointment about the “real world”. Sometimes students discover that the world of work is very different from what they are used to in school. They might be disappointed to find that their supervisor has other responsibilities besides supervising them.
3. Confrontation– Facing disillusionment may be difficult, but can help students grow. Students may have to re-examine their goals and expectations. Comparing the internship description and/or the learning goals with reality may help as a reality check. Interpersonal issues should be discussed.
4. Competence– Morale increases. Students feel more professional. There is increased productivity. Students can ask for higher level tasks; they feel more like a part of the organization.
5. Culmination– At the end of the entry-level internship, students may feel pride in their accomplishments, as well as sadness upon ending the work experience. There may be some guilt at not having accomplished more, or because the project students have worked on may not continue once they leave. Talking with the supervisor may help with these feelings.

Originally posted by William Frierson

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