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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I get started with internship?

A: The first step to getting started with the internship is to meet with the Internship Coordinator as early as possible. There are mandatory internship workshops each Spring and Fall. Pay attention to announcements and be sure to attend a workshop. Students should also carefully review the information presented in this website. Print out the checklist for guidance.

Q: Why can't students directly register for PAFF 594 or 595 on their own?

A: PAFF 594 and 595 require instructor permission for registration. Student must consult with the Internship Coordinator to register for PAFF 594 (Internship) and/or the Capstone Instructor to register for PAFF 595 (Capstone) to determine readiness for participation.

Q: What types of work are students expected to do during their internships?

A: As a professional-in-training, an intern is expected to work on managerial/administrative activities. These might include developing programs, evaluation strategies, budgets, and/or new procedures. Obviously, since the student is not a professional employee of the organization, s/he works closely with the supervisor on all projects. The intern should not engage in direct services to clients, transporting others, perform office duties (to a great extent), and/or manual labor.

Q: I currently work full-time and do not have time to complete a 300-hour internship in addition to my job, so how do I meet that requirement?

A: Students are often able to complete the internship requirement during their normal working hours at their place of employment. In some cases, if students have significant administrative experience (at least three years) in a variety of fundamental administrative areas, the internship requirement may be waived at the department's discretion. You should meet with the Internship Coordinator to discuss your particular situation.

Q: What is the difference between a master's thesis and Capstone project?

A: The primary difference between the two is that a Capstone is an applied research project. That means it focuses on a specific problem facing an organization. The goal of the Capstone is to conduct a critical analysis that will generate actionable recommendations for the organization. A master's thesis, in contrast, focuses more on the development of new knowledge in an individual's field of study through research. Please see the Capstone Workshop presentation, available on the MPA website, for more information.

Q: What happens if my site supervisor leaves the organization during my internship or capstone?

A: First, do not panic! Once you are informed that s/he is leaving, work with your current supervisor to identify a suitable replacement. You may not be able to wait until the position is filled again, as that often takes considerable time. Once a new supervisor is identified, have a three-way meeting with both your current and new supervisors to ensure continuity. Provide copies of all past paperwork, products, and important information to the new person. Try to include this new person in all activities, or at least keep him/her informed until the switch takes place. If the change is sudden, work with the administrator at the next higher level to identify an appropriate supervisor and proceed as described above. Be sure to notify your supervising professor in the MPA program immediately.

Q: How can I ensure that the organization stays interested in my work if there is a one or two semester break between my internship and capstone project class?

A: Maintaining that relationship is critical to achieve the cooperation that will lead to the successful completion of your capstone project. Be sure to communicate with your site supervisor at least once a month to stay up to date on the current focus of the organization and to discuss your capstone topic. On a very practical level, it is important to keep in mind that priorities can shift quickly as organizations respond to current issues and challenges. You may also need to modify your topic to accommodate a more pressing organizational concern. Remember that your internship and capstone project should provide mutual growth and benefit to both you and the cooperating organization.

Q: I have completed the 300 hours of my internship. What requirements do I need to have on file to get a grade of satisfactory?

A: Type and submit a 3-4 page memo (single-spaced) giving a summary of your internship, along with the Final Intern Evaluation Form, from the Site Supervisor.

Q: Do I have to get any University approvals before collecting data for my site supervisor?

A: It depends on what you are gathering and from whom. If you are collecting information from clients, employees or other human subjects and you expect to use the data for your Capstone Project, then you will need to seek approval from the Binghamton University Human subjects Review Committee. You will need to contact the Internship Coordinator first, as she will be the supervising faculty member for the project.

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Last Updated: 4/8/11