The Purpose and Benefits
Experiential education is an essential component of a student's learning before entering the field of recreation services as a professional practitioner. The design of the recreation internship provides majors with a full time structured learning experience in a recreational setting of the student's choice. The internship offers students an opportunity to bridge the gap between theory and practice as well as move from being a student to a professional. With this in mind students are encouraged to take more of an active role in setting up their internship as well as customizing assignments and due dates to fit with the outcomes they are seeking by completing their internship. A checklist is provided on the following page to assist students in seeking and setting up their individual internship.
To be eligible for the internship, majors must have completed all their coursework in Recreation (in both the common classes and those specific to the student's emphasis area) as well having finished the cognates and Recreation 380. Preparation for the internship begins a full semester before the internship is to be undertaken. Prospective interns are expected to work with their advisor (using the internship checklist) to prepare for their internship focusing on such topics as personal skill assessments, designing goals and objectives for the experience, understanding expectations for the intern, learning application and interview procedures, and understanding all assignments that will need to be completed throughout the internship.
The internship experience is a minimum of 14 weeks during the fall and spring semester and at least 12 full weeks during the summer. Students in Community Recreation and Youth Leadership must complete over 500 hours of work connected to their internship, while Therapeutic Recreation students must complete 600 hours. This difference is a result of certification requirements for Therapeutic Recreation students. Time required to complete assignments for the internship can be factored into these hours.
When registering for their internship, students have two options. Each option requires the same amount of work and assignments. The difference is related to the number of hours students need to graduate. Students who need a full 4 to 12 credits to graduate are required to take Recreation 346 and pay for a full 12 credits. Students who need three or fewer hours to graduate can register for an Independent Study and pay for three credits. Remember the requirement to complete either of these two options are the same. Both Recreation 346 and Recreation 390 are graded using the standard letter grades.
Paid or Unpaid?
Students can use paid positions to serve as their internship if the agency is aware and approves of the extra work required of the student as well as provides a staff person to serve as the students on-site supervisor who will meet with the student on a regular basis. It has been our experience that hourly jobs present the most challenge to completing the internship as employers who pay by the hour have the right to demand exactly what the employee will be doing at work. Recognizing the challenge to the student of not getting paid and the challenge to the organization of paying by the hour we often recommend payment in the form of a stipend and/or room and board. We feel a stipend recognizes the contributions that an intern can make to an organization but also gives the student more flexibility to shape the internship in ways that would be more beneficial to him/her. We view the internship as a partnership between the college, the agency, and the student. The intent of the partnership is to make the internship the best learning experience for the student. To help understand the roles and responsibilities of each of these partners Calvin has developed a internship manual to serve as a resource throughout the internship. Internship manuals are available from the students academic advisor within the Recreation major.