Western is a member of CACEE (Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers) and CAFCE (Canadian Association for Co-operative Education)
Students are employed in settings that provide work experience directly related to their academic program and career objectives. Internships have come to be highly valued by both employers and students. Organizations have an excellent opportunity to evaluate potential full-time employees during a 12 to 16 month work term. Students have the opportunity to combine their academic knowledge with corporate work experience, while learning new skills.
It is expected that an employer will:
An internship placement should offer the student a planned program over the course of the work term, with learning objectives clearly defined. Interns should feel challenged and be able to reference their academic training during the performance of their job. The work environment should provide initiative and encouragement. The student should be treated as a regular employee and given the autonomy to work on projects, and to report back to the project supervisor. Interns should be encouraged to provide input and recommendations.
For many students, an internship is their first degree-related job. In order for interns to remain motivated and productive, feedback on their performance is important. This is especially critical if their work habits need modifying in order to achieve success. We encourage employers to provide this feedback regularly, and to be available to answer questions and provide guidance, especially in the earliest part of the work term.
The advantage of a longer-term internship (12 to 16 months) is that students can assume responsibilities beyond the duties typically assigned to a four-month co-op position. Interns have the opportunity for adequate training, and time to become a productive member of the team.
For many students, starting an internship work term can be intimidating, regardless of their level of experience. It is recommended that your company take students through an orientation process that will provide them with an opportunity to learn about your organization (perhaps a tour), become more familiar with their own work location, and meet their supervisors. A social activity for all new intern hires can put students in touch with each other and provide networking opportunities.
Most students have limited work experience; therefore adequate training will ensure that interns develop the necessary skills and knowledge to fulfill the expectations of their role. While initial training is usually provided, subsequent education is often required ensuring that the interns are working to their potential. In many cases, the outgoing intern will be required to train the incoming intern.
The employer is accountable for ensuring all interns have received and understand the employer’s health and safety policies and procedures. In addition, the appropriate health and safety training must be provided prior to, or soon after, the start of the internship work term.
An internship transitions learning from the classroom to learning on the job. Learning objectives will balance the needs of the intern to develop skills, with the organization’s productivity needs, while serving to improve the student’s competence to perform to the company’s expectations. Learning objectives not only outline the schedule of job activities and expectations for the interns, but addresses what should be learned through these activities. It is important that the work assigned to interns be relevant to their academic background and level of education (usually third year students). Learning objectives is a tool to measure the performance of an intern during the evaluation process.
Identify learning needs – with respect to a particular set of competencies. Outline the learning objectives – describe what the student is expected to learn, not what they are expected to do, and provide a time-frame for meeting these expectations. Identify learning resources and strategies – manuals, internet, company training sessions, colleagues, etc. Indicate how accomplishment is measured – provide evidence that the competency has been reached.
Interim Evaluation - Provide interns with an initial written evaluation (usually after three months) taking into consideration their level of experience and time on the job. To prepare for the evaluation, both the supervisor and the intern should review the learning objectives. Both parties can then meet to develop an official evaluation. An evaluation form (link to Internship Placement Evaluation Forms - quick link) is available from Engineering Career Services or you are welcome to use your own company evaluation form. It is important that both the supervisor and intern have input into the evaluation. Interns are required to submit their interim evaluation to their faculty coordinator.
Final Evaluation – Provide a final evaluation at the end of the work term. It is important not only to give feedback to the intern, but also assess improvements in performance and success in meeting objectives. The learning objectives should once again be reviewed, and both the supervisor and intern should provide input. All students are required to submit their final evaluations(link to Internship Placement Evaluation Forms - quick link) to their faculty coordinator.