Philip-G Simard International Studies, Glendon @ York University

In order to prepare students for the reality of the work force and give them a more direct acquaintance with the international environment and the practical functioning of the relations between countries, the Department of International Studies (DIS) has created a professional internship, credited as a full-year course (GL/ILST 4300 6.0).  Internships can be held in Canada or abroad, in the public or private sector, and can deal with any major dimension of the international (strategic, economic, legal, diplomatic and cultural).  Internships are reserved to 4th year students of the Department of International Studies exclusively.

Requirements

For the internship to be fully credited academically, the following general requirements must be met:

  1. the practical experience should deal with activities relevant to international studies, namely be focused on relations between countries;
  2. the duration of the internship should be of at least 240 working hours;
  3. the internees must keep a succinct diary of accomplished tasks, together with personal reflections on the experience and knowledge acquired during the period of the internship.  A brief interim report (3 or 4 pages) must be submitted to the Department halfway through the internship experience, while a copy of the complete diary will be annexed to the final essay, mentioned below;
  4. at the end of the internship, the student must submit a twenty-page essay, which should essentially consist of a self-evaluation of the tasks accomplished during the internship experience, accompanied by consideration on the link between theory and practice, namely between “academic learning” and the “lessons of experience”;   and
  5. the host institution accepts to supervise the internee and to submit a short report
    on the internee’s overall performance, notably on her/his learning and problem-
    solving ability, adaptability to the new environment, and relation with the host organization’s personnel and clients.

Finding the Internship

Responsibility for finding the internship and for all the costs associated with the internship experience rest entirely with the student.  The Department, nevertheless, has been and remains committed to assist students during the whole process of finding and defining the internships.  Information files on internship opportunities and experiences are available for consultation at the secretariat of the Department.  Plans are underway to summarize relevant information to be made accessible on the Department of International Studies website. Below are some examples of internship opportunities:

Nature of the Internship

As indicated earlier, the credited internship of the Department of International Studies is a  practical and professional experience of the international. This section elaborates on this  fundamental point, with a view to assist students interested in an internship experience to identify appropriate internship opportunities and to negotiate with prospective employers lists of specific tasks or duties that they, the internees, should perform: list of tasks acceptable to the Department.  In order for the internship to be credited and count for the Major in International Studies, the internship experience must fulfil the following criteria:

  1. First, the internship should, as any other course of the Programme, focus on the international, namely on the relations between countries, at whatever level (governmental or civil society), in whatever dimension of the international (strategic, economic, legal, diplomatic, cultural,), and wherever the experience takes place (in Canada or abroad).
  2. Second, the specificity of the internship is to provide a personal experience of how, in practice, relations between countries function and are managed, an experience and knowledge that cannot be acquired in any other of the Department  regular courses.  This implies that only activities and tasks directly linked to the solution of concrete international problems and the promotion of international cooperation are acceptable.  Therefore, activities such as correspondence, translation or even research should not constitute, per se, any significant part of the credited internship experience.
  3. Thirdly, the internship must be a professional experience. Although under supervision, internees must be involved or associated, in one way or another, with decisions concerning the implementation of the substantive functions of the agencies or institutions, which employ them. In more concrete terms, internees must be involved with the creation and implementation of projects or programmes dealing with the solution of international conflicts and the promotion of international cooperation, in the areas of special interest to the agencies, which employ them.  It follows that activities such as secretarial duties of any type,   translation, interpretation, summaries of documents, and computer or editorial work per se are not considered professional task for the purpose of the International Studies internship.

Procedures for Internship Approval and Registration

As for Individual Studies courses and Honours Thesis, the Internship is approved on a case by case basis, depending on the merits of each internship project.  It is the responsibility of the internee to develop the internship project, with the assistance of the Department, if necessary. Essentially this means that, before internships are approved, interested students must identify internship opportunities and negotiate with prospective employers the specific and professional tasks, which they, the internees, will be allowed to perform.

The list of tasks must be agreed and signed by all concerned: the internee, the internee supervisor at the place of work (designated by the employer), and the Department representative.  The internship project in general and the list of specific tasks in particular must fully conform to the above mentioned criteria.  The name of the on-the-job supervisor and the list of specific tasks must be communicated to the Department before the internship starts.  Only after the internship project has been approved by the Department, will the student be allowed to register for the internship.  Registration forms are available at both the secretariat and the Departmental website.

Proposed Evaluation Scheme

Search for the internship and negotiation of tasks 20%

Internship diary (prepared by the internee at regular intervals) 10%

Internship experience (as testified by the employer/supervisor) 40%

Essay (self-assessment of the internship experience by the internee) 30%

The content of the essay (15 to 20 pages) will briefly touch upon the search for the internship and the functions of the employing agency ( 2 or 3 pages), while the core of the essay should deal with the performance of the established tasks and the internee’ self-assessment of such a performance as well as the perceived nexus between theory and practice.  More specifically, the essay should include the following elements:

  • search for the internship and reasons for the given choice;
  • nature of the agency/institution in question;
  • development and execution of projects or tasks;
  • problems encountered and solutions proposed or applied;
  • relations with the agency colleagues and (if applicable) clients;
  • reflexions on the nexus between theory and practice;
  • contacts established (if any) which may lead to future employment.

Right of Academic Appeal

Whether it concerns the approval of the internship project or the final evaluation of the internship experience, students enjoy the same rights of appeal, through academic channels, that apply to any other course.

File on Internship Opportunities

A file on internship opportunities has been assembled by a group of International Studies students.  This information is at the disposal of all Glendon students.  A second file on our students’ internship experiences has been compiled by the Coordinator and is available for consultation.

For further information, please contact us at: ilst@glendon.yorku.ca