ENVS 680 FAQ

See below for frequently asked questions (and answers) about the Environmental Studies internship requirement and ENVS 680 Internship course:

 

  1. Why does ENVS have an internship requirement?
  2. When should I aim to do my internship?
  3. How should I evaluate a potential internship?
  4. How do I find an internship?
  5. What are the requirements for an internship for ENVS 680?
  6. What about the units?
  7. When should I start looking?
  8. What if I cannot complete my internship hours?
  9. Do I need to get approval for an internship before I start?
  10. Can I do a summer internship?
  11. What does my internship supervisor have to do?
  12. Can I do an internship one semester and take the class in a different semester?
  13. Can I take ENVS 680 more than once for credit?
  14. Are students ever turned away from the ENVS 680 course because it is full?

 

Answers

1. Why does ENVS have an internship requirement? 
The purpose of the internship is to provide students with a real world experience that complements their academic studies and, ideally, their future career goals. Internships can be invaluable for helping one learn about what type of work they enjoy, for career networking, resume building and getting non-academic letters of recommendation. 
 

2. When should I aim to do my internship?
Students should aim to do their internship in their junior year. Generally, it is better to do the internship a year before graduating for three reasons: First, so that you can be picky and go for an excellent internship, and if for some reason your internship does not work out, you have time to try in another semester. Second, if you really enjoy your internship, you have time before you graduate to do a second one. Many organizations take students as interns but don’t take non-students. Third, so you can bring real world work experience back to the classroom and compliment your academic studies.
 

3. How should I evaluate a potential internship?

Your goal should be to get an internship that will further your career goals or at least help you figure out those goals. You will be spending a lot of hours and your internship may be the main item you can include on your resume under environmental "work experience" when you graduate. It's important that you learn some professional skills in the course of your internship. Lots of organizations want interns, but beware of internships that consistent mainly of low-skill physical labor or office work. 
 

4. How do I find an internship?

Check the ENVSList to see updated job and internship openings available to all majors. Contact the ENVS office about access. Visit the Jobs & Internships page on the ENVS website. This page has a database with a list of environmental organizations in the Bay Area, and links to environmental job sites. Check out the Environmental Studies Department iLearn site for a database of recent internships done by ENVS majors – with short evaluations starting with Spring 2014 internships. You can also check with any of the ENVs faculty for ideas. You can also check organizations directly by looking at their individual websites. We post every internship advertisement we get on ENVSList, but not all organizations seeking interns advertise with us. Don't forget government agencies as internship possibilities; most obvious are the EPA and SF Department of the Environment, but check out the California Air Resources Board, the Coastal Commission, and so on. There are a lot of businesses seeking to "green" their operations. Several ENVS students have approached managers at their workplace and gotten permission to create a sustainability plan for the business as the basis for their internship (management has to agree to act as your internship supervisor in a case like this).
 

5. What are the requirements for an internship for ENVS 680? 
You have to find an internship with an organization doing something related to environmental studies. The organization has to be willing to sign a work agreement with you laying out what work you will be doing, your hours, and your access to a supervisor. A template for the work agreement is available on ENVS 680 web page and on iLearn. The work agreement is due the second class meeting and must be signed by both the student and the internship supervisor. And you have to have a supervisor willing to complete an evaluation of your work. The evaluation form is available on the ENVS 680 web page and on iLearn. The supervisor mails or emails the completed evaluation to the course instructor. The supervisor’s evaluation is due the last class meeting.
 

6. What about the units? 
For one unit of ENVS 680 you are required to do 80 hours of internship work over the course of the semester. The two and three unit sections of ENVS 680 require 160 and 240 hours respectively. Don’t sign up for more than one unit unless you are sure you will be able to complete the required hours.
 

7. When should I start looking? 
It is best to start looking six weeks before the start of the semester in which you are taking ENVS 680. Better to start early and be able to be choosy about what internship you do, than start late and have to settle for not as good an internship because you have run out of time. The best search strategy is to apply for a handful of different internships all at once, rather than applying for one, waiting to hear, then applying for a second one, etc.

 

8. What if I cannot complete my internship hours? 
If you can’t complete your required work hours you get an incomplete for the internship class until you can finish your hours.

 

9. Do I need to get approval for an internship before I start? 
In general if your internship has something to do with the environment and it is an internship with community or campus organization, you don’t have to get prior approval. If in doubt contact Carlos Davidson with questions about whether something you want to do could count as your ENVS internship.

 

10. Can I do a summer internship? 
You can do your actual internship during the summer and take the internship course, ENVS 680, the following fall. However, you need to do three homework assignments for the internship course during the summer:
     a. You must get a signed work agreement from your supervisor. The work agreement template is available as a word document on the ENVS 680            web page.
     b. If your internship ends during the summer you should have your supervisor complete an evaluation of your work. You can get the supervisor              evaluation word document on the ENVS 680 page. Have your supervisor send the evaluation to Carlos Davidson at carlosd@sfsu.edu.
     c. You must keep a log and a journal. The details of the log and journal assignments are in the assignments file available on the ENVS 680 web            page. Don’t wait until the fall to starting writing your activity log and journal – do it week by week during the summer.

 

11. What does my internship supervisor have to do? 
The internship supervisor has to fill out a work agreement with you at the start of your internship laying out what work you are going to do, your schedule and how you will get access to him or her. They have to supervisor your work during the course of the internship, and at the end of the internship they have to evaluate your work using our supervisor evaluation form.

 

12. Can I do an internship one semester and take the class in a different semester? 
With the exception of a summer internship, generally you have to take the ENVS 680 course at the same time you are actually doing your internship.

 

13. Can I take ENVS 680 more than once for credit? 
Yes, you may repeat ENVS 680 for credit. You can also do a second internship, but not take ENVS 680 again.

 

14. Are students ever turned away from the ENVS 680 course because it is full?
No, there is always room in ENVS 680 even if the schedule says it is full. Never use priority registration to get the internship course.