Frequently Asked Questions
WHY? WHO? HOW? WHAT? WHERE?
1. Why bother with an internship?
There are at least two important reasons for seeking out one or several internships:
A. An internship allows you to get a feel for a line of work prior to making a major commitment to that field. Before committing to grad school or law school, try out education or law and see if the reality meets your expectations. Before relocating and signing up for a job your rent money depends on, try out broadcast journalism and find out if a job in television is everything you thought it would be. An internship is an ideal way to "test drive your future." Also, you want to think strategically about long-term vs short-term goals. An unpaid summer internship might be a better investment, overall, than a paying summer job that has nothing to do with your career goals.
B. You're often not the only one "test driving" during an internship. Recent studies have shown the increasing importance of internships in a tight job market as companies seek to lower their recruitment and training costs by hiring out of their internship "bull pen."
2. Who is eligible for an English Department Internship?
English majors in good standing who show initiative and maturity. Majors in any and all of the department's specializations are eligible for internships (see below for information on major credit). Typically students accepted into the Internship Program have had solid recommendations and a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students with a GPA lower than that who are interested in an internship would want to present evidence in their letter of intent as to why that GPA is not a good indicator of their potential for this opportunity.
3. How do I find an internship?
Here in Binghamton during the spring and fall semesters, BU English majors who qualify
for Rhet 495, the English Department Internship Program, have the option of finding
their own internship or of having assistance with their placement from the program
director. Summer and Winter Session interns always need to find their own placements.
Finding a rewarding internship is a matter of doing your homework. Don't underestimate the availability of opportunities. Finding an internships is much like finding a summer job. Pound pavements, knock on doors, make calls, check out web pages, etc. Find the organization's internship coordinator, or if there is no internship coordinator perhaps someone in personnel. You need to go after the position you want.
4. What if I'm interested in a field that isn't very well represented in Binghamton
or my hometown?
Think creatively. Students with an interest in fields such as television or publishing have often found that the internship opportunity that they were offered in the smaller market Binghamton area was superior to their internship experience in mega-market New York City because in Binghamton they did far more hands-on work and less coffee-fetching and observing. But sometimes you just need that big city experience (or you want the combination of both types of experiences).
Students whose families live in the greater NYC -area frequently set up this type of arrangement but sometimes students from other hometowns assume a big city internship is out of the picture for them. If you have a strong interest, find a way. Downtown universities, from Boston to NYC to DC, etc., are sitting on unused dorm space during the summer months; make some contacts and find out where you might be able to get some inexpensive, centrally-located housing for the summer. ( No implied endorsement is intended in providing these links so be sure to undertake your own investigation but here are a couple of links to get you started on this type of search: Educational Housing Services, a nonprofit organization that partners with NYC colleges and NYU's own summer housing program.)
Another idea: take a part-time internship that will leave you time for a part-time job as well to cover your expenses (or if you're the high energy type, a full-time internship and a part-time job). Not only will you have found a way to get the experience you're looking for, but additionally the initiative, work ethic, and management skills this will demonstrate will serve you well on your resume and during job interviews.
5. How are we graded for Rhet 495? Do I get a letter grade, or is it pass/fail?
Rhet 495 is always handled under the pass/fail option. Your grade will depend upon your final project, your blog entries, and annotated bibliography, AND on the evaluation letter submitted by your site supervisor.
6. Will I get major credit for Rhet. 495?
The first time that it is taken as a four-credit course, Rhet 495 fills requirements in the major in English and the major in English with a concentration in Rhetoric.
7. Can I take Rhet. 495 for more than one semester?
Yes, you can take it for up to eight credits. Major credit is offered only once and only if the course is taken for four credits.
8. When is the last day of "class" when you have an internship?
The last day of your internship will vary a bit even among members of Rhet 495 in the same semester. Your requirements are 12 hours per week for the 15 week semester (or 45 hours per credit hour in the Summer or Winter Session) but it's difficult sometimes to have that come out "even." For instance, if you're involved in a project and have about three hours more work to do on it but have reached your minimum 180 hrs, everyone's expectation would be that you'd finish out your project, even though it means you've put in a bit over your time requirements. Another reason for variation would be that some students have put in extra hours early on and finish early in the last week, while others might be short hours and go on working at the internship into finals week.
9. After reading over the web site, what if I have more questions about the Rhet. 495 internship?
Christine Gelineau currently directs the English Department's Senior Internship Program. E-mail is an excellent way to reach Prof. Gelineau with questions. Her current office hours are available on the Contact page.
10. Can I take Rhet 495 for fewer than four credits and then put in fewer hours?
The simple answer to this is "yes," but the useful answer to this is more complicated. You can do fewer hours for fewer credits but in practice that choice has ramifications. If you do an internship for only six hours a week (2 credits), for instance, from the sponsor’s point-of-view, are you really there often enough to make it worth their while to train you to do “real” work? Just as a practical matter, at that low an investment of your time, your experience can end up more watching than doing. The second thing is that four-credit interns get placed first. It doesn’t make sense to “use up” an internship site that would be willing to take on a four-credit intern by placing a two-credit intern there and then still needing to find a suitable placement for the four-credit intern. And lastly, we would need to find a sponsor willing to take you on at the reduced credits. Sometimes that works out just fine and if you know of a placement that wants you for the fewer hours a week, it might be a good solution for you but you need to think through the full implications and make an informed decision.
11. When do I need to apply?
Spring/fall interns should submit their applications during the semester preceding
the one in which the internship will take place. Applications deadlines are set some
time mid-semester. See the Internship Program Homepage for our current deadline.
Students who plan to be away from campus -- in an overseas program, for instance -- should apply two semesters in advance and clearly indicate this on their application, or if you will have reliable email and Internet access while you are abroad, you can apply by emailing Prof. Gelineau your application during the regular submission period.
12. Where can I get an application?
13. Where can I do an internship?
We offer placements in advertising, public relations, law, news media, education, publishing, technical writing, and more. Any field that an English major might typically get a job in is eligible.
14. If I get an CDC internship can I turn it into a Rhet. 495 internship so I can
get major credit?
This is sometimes possible but if you want a Rhet. 495 internship you must apply for a Rhet. 495 internship. CDC's program is separate from the English Department's program. Being placed at an internship by CDC does not guarantee you a spot in the English Department's Internship Program. That being said, it is not infrequently possible to "convert" a placement you found through CDC to a Rhet 495 internship, provided all Rhet 495 requirements can be met.
15. If I'm accepted into the program, will I get my first choice placement?
This is really a two part question since whether or not we are collectively able to
secure your first-choice placement depends upon what you are looking to do and who
else with the same interests has applied that semester. As to the first part, the
extremely high quality of interns our program has produced has made our students eagerly
sought after in the area and we are able to offer a very wide range of experiences.
However students used to living in a large metropolitan area do need to realize that
Binghamton (even Binghamton combined with Johnson City, Endicott, Vestal, etc.) is
a fairly small metropolitan area. If you are interested in an internship that might
more easily be secured in your hometown (you can visit or e-mail Prof. Gelineau to
ask about that), you might consider taking Rhet. 495 during the summer months.
As to the second part of that question, when there are more students interested in a particular field than we have placements, students are ranked based on seniority, their writing sample (i.e., the letter of intent included in their application), their GPA, and their letters of recommendation. Students with the strongest applications are given the first opportunity at an interview. In the event that we have more highly qualified candidates than placements, Prof. Gelineau attempts to uncover new placements for those students within that field whenever possible. When that is not possible (or when the student indicates that they do not have a strong preference between their first and second choice fields), the student is placed in their second choice field. On the rare occasions when that also is problematic, the student is contacted to discuss the options before proceeding.
16. When can I expect to hear if I have been accepted to the program?
Applications are reviewed promptly. You should have heard within a week to a week and a half if your application has been denied, deferred, or accepted. If accepted, you will receive information on setting up an interview with your prospective sponsor. If you have not heard from the Internship Director by two weeks past the application deadline, e-mail the Director for information. Students are informed by e-mail so it is a good idea to keep track of your inbox in the days following your application.
17. When I receive notification that I have been accepted to the program, does that mean that my internship placement is already arranged with the sponsor listed on my message?
ONLY an initial contact has been made; nothing is finalized. Upon receiving notification of acceptance to the program and the sponsor contact information you should promptly follow-up on the initial contact the Program Director has made. What you have at this point is an acceptance to the program and a verbal agreement from the sponsor named that they will interview you. Final placement is up to you and the sponsor. While you will not be in competition for "your" slot with other English Department hopefuls, that does not mean that you are not in competition with other applicants from the CDC program or the SOM program, or even other colleges such as Broome Community College, SUNY-Cortland, Syracuse University or others. The Rhet. 495 program has an excellent reputation with our repeat sponsors and many of them wait to make sure they've heard from the English Department candidate before making their final selections but it is advisable that you show eagerness, interest and initiative by keeping track of your e-mail in the weeks following application and then promptly phoning the sponsor to arrange your interview.
18. How many hours a week do I have to work?
Spring/fall interns are expected to work 12 hours per week for the 15 week semester.
You will need to work out your schedule with your sponsor, who should be aware of
the necessity to work around the schedules of your other classes. You need to be aware
that businesses do not run on an academic calendar. Your site sponsor does not necessarily
have the slightest idea when Binghamton University's Spring Break is and unless you
have let him or her know ahead of time, is likely planning on you to be there that
week. Some students use Spring Break to get ahead (or catch up) on their hours. If
on the other hand, you bought tickets to Cancun six months ago for Spring Break, you
should let your sponsor know this up front so they can plan for your absence.
Fall interns often ask about the university breaks for the Jewish High Holidays. You are responsible for putting in 12 hours per week for the 15 week semester, which comes to a minimum of 180 hours for the semester. No student should expect that the internship supervisor will know that university classes are not in session on those particular days. If you are an observant Jewish student, just as you will do for the rest of your working life, you will notify your supervisor ahead of time that you will not be at work on those days and you will make arrangements to get in your hours at another time. If you are not Jewish, most commonly students just go ahead and work their normal internship hours on those days. Some actually put in extra hours on those days since classes are not meeting.
Occasionally problems arise with fulfilling the time requirements, particularly with students interning in education in the fall semester, since schools often open after our semester has already begun. For suggestions on dealing with the issue of fulfilling the time requirements, click here to visit our "Maximize Your Internship" page.
ADDITIONAL FAQs PERTINENT TO SUMMER / WINTER SESSION
19. How many hours a week do I have to work?
Summer and winter interns are expected to work 45 hours on site per credit hour registered for, so if you are taking Rhet 495 as a 4 credit course, you will need to complete a minimum total of 180 hours at your internship. Remember when taking Rhet. 495 in the summer or winter terms, you must pay tuition per credit hour. If you have questions about this, see or e-mail Prof. Gelineau . For further information on costs, access the Summer Sessions or the Winter Session pages, and click on Payment & Tuition from the menu on the left.
20. Where can I get an application?
Unlike the fall/spring program, applying for Rhet 495 in the summer or winter is a
separate process from applying for the actual internship position. You need to apply
to the English Department for Rhet 495 AND apply to various internship programs to
obtain your placement. Whereas potential Fall and Spring interns apply to Rhet 495
before they have a placement, Winter and Summer session interns apply to Rhet 495
after they have secured a placement.
That said, remember that the program director is a resource for you during the search process. It is absolutely fine early on to just stop to chat with Prof. Gelineau and explore your options--perhaps bring along a resume and cover letter for suggestions before you actually begin applying to companies for internships. Once you actually have been accepted to an internship, to apply for Rhet 495 in the summer or winter so as to receive University credit through the English Department for your internship activity, fill out the Rhet 495 application and arrange to meet with Professor Gelineau, or contact her by email with your application attached.
21. What's the deadline for applying?
Summer interns have more than one deadline to keep track of since any or all of the internship placements you might wish to apply for could set their own deadlines, some as early as February or March. If you will need to arrange housing in order to participate in the internship of your dreams, deadlines may be involved there as well (for instance the New York University Summer Living in NY Program suggests applying by late March -- see #4 above).
Arranging to receive BU credits through the English Department for the internship you are setting up is a separate issue; you'll want to meet with Prof. Gelineau as early in the semester as you know you're considering an internship, but you have until the end of spring semester to complete the paper work (registering and paying for your summer school credits).
Similiarly, applying for a Winter Session internship is a two-pronged process of finding the internship and applying to Rhet 495.
22. Can I be paid for my internship and still qualify for Rhet 495?
The emphasis is on the learning and thus Rhet 495 is for unpaid internship positions. It is acceptable for interns to be paid a modest stipend (such as to cover the cost of subway and lunch).
23. What are the requirements if I am not taking Rhet 495 for four credits?
If you are taking Rhet 495 for MORE than four credits, you should clarify with Prof. Gelineau what the requirements will be. If you are registered for fewer than four credits, it is recommended that you adhere to the requirements for the four credits if at all possible since the requirements are designed to help you get the most from your internship experience. It is understood however that sometimes students are registered for one or two credit internships because they are also working at paid positions and their time is severely limited. In those cases you should discuss your situation with Prof. Gelineau and agree upon appropriate adjustment to the requirements ahead of time.
24. I have found an internship for the summer (winter) but they have asked for a letter saying I will receive credit. Can you help with that?
Yes, we can provide such a letter. Email Prof. Gelineau to verify that you will be eligible for Rhet 495 credit should you land the internship and then see the Undergraduate Secretary in the English Office and ask for a credit letter. You will need to provide contact information for the person who needs to receive this letter and the secretary will need to have received from Prof. Gelineau an email verification of your eligibility.