The Credit They Deserve
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 01:10
Internships are not just a tool for building resumes; they can give students the chance to gain significant, real-world experience that can’t be duplicated in the classroom. Since internships are often unpaid positions, the university should make it a point to facilitate academic compensation in the form of course credit.
Georgetown’s policy on granting course credit to interns, however, does not reflect the value of this kind of work. Not all internships are created equal, but that doesn’t mean that they should be dismissed indiscriminately.
Under the current policy, students who have their internship approved can enroll in a one-credit course, the College Internship Experience. Georgetown College students can receive three credits for internships in government or media if they take a complementary course. Within this constraint, only students who are government majors are allowed to enroll in the four-credit government course, the Public Affairs Seminar Internship.
There are rewarding opportunities in the District to intern at a variety of locations, and a one-credit course hardly reflects the commitment and content many of these positions entail. Georgetown seriously undervalues the range of experiences available off campus. In comparison, biology students who perform research with professors can be granted up to six credits for their work through the Research Intensive Senior Experience program — and, unlike interns, they are not required to take an accompanying class on top of the work they are already doing. The university understandably wants to promote activities on campus, but denying interns credit for their work is not the right way to go about that.
In order to vet an internship and determine whether it is substantive and worthwhile, students should simply be required to submit a proposal for approval. Georgetown also ought to give course credit that accurately reflects both the time students spend at their internships and the experience they derive from them.
Despite some inherent drawbacks, internships can be an effective supplement to campus coursework. The university has an opportunity and an obligation to recognize internships as a potential way to achieve a diverse education.