Current Students - Internship Policy
(revised September 2015)
Catalog Description: CRP 409 Planning Internship (2 units) (CR/NC)-Undergraduate Level
Work experience as a supervised employee in a planning-related agency or private firm. Prior contract specifying the product of internship required between student, agency and faculty. Sixty hours work experience for two units of credit. Credit/No Credit grading. Prerequisite: Consultation with Internship Coordinator.
Questions & Answers about the City & Regional Planning Internships
Who is required to complete a planning internship?
All candidates for the BSCRP must enroll to satisfy the curriculum requirements.
What are the advantages of an internship?
Planning students participate in real world professional experience in a public agency, nonprofit or consulting practice. They assist regular planning staff members in a wide range of duties. Some of these duties may include undertaking surveys, preparing design and planning proposals, reviewing development applications, distributing information at the public counter, answering telephone inquiries, preparing technical reports and maps, writing plan elements and making public presentations.
Internships give candidates for entry-level permanent positions an advantage over competitors who have not had any professional experience. Work done during an internship is a valuable experience and helps to broaden your professional contact base. Internships often lead to future regular employment with the same employer. Therefore, you need to treat even a volunteer internship like a paying job, although some internships do pay an hourly or monthly salary.
How can I get an internship?
You can make your own arrangements with a suitable sponsor which can be a public planning agency, a nonprofit organization, or a private planning or community design firm. The CRP Office will make announcements regarding potential internship opportunities through your calpoly.edu email. In addition, announcements may be made in class by your instructor. The web is also an excellent tool to use when searching for an internship, especially at the local level in a city where you might wish to work. Although there are year round postings for available internships, it is in the Spring Quarter when most public and private organizations provide flyers and job descriptions for internships available for those students who wish to work during the summer break.
What kind of internship should I be looking for?
Generally you will use three criteria to choose internships: (1) Is it close to home? (2) Is it in a city I want to be in? (3) Does it give me the experience I want that could lead to a future employment opportunity?
Getting paid is always a factor, but money does not seem to be the most important consideration. You need to think about how an internship fits into your career and school plans; how interesting the work is and how well other students talk about the placement, the supervisor and their experience. Try to write up a list of things you want to accomplish in your internship, then start the search; and keep your options open. If you have more than one offer in a single city, talk to the CRP Internship Coordinator about how to make the right choice for you.
How do I enroll in this course? READ THIS SECTION VERY CAREFULLY!
Step 1: Secure an internship with a suitable public agency, nonprofit or private organization as a sponsor. Be sure the work is what planners normally do (see below). Obtain a job description and application form from the sponsor.
Step 2: Submit the attached Internship Agreement Form to the Internship Coordinator (the CRP faculty member assigned to supervise CRP 409). You and the Internship Coordinator will want to discuss how and why this particular internship will be beneficial to your career.
Step 3: The CRP Office will provide you with permission to sign up for CRP 409 once all proper documents have been submitted to the office by the Internship Coordinator.
Can I get paid for the internship and still qualify for academic credit?
Yes. Getting paid is not a requirement, but it is always good to receive compensation. There is no set minimum or maximum rate of pay. To establish the going rate, talk to students who have had an internship.
If, during the summer, I am offered an internship which was not previously approved by the Internship Coordinator, can I still get credit?
Yes, but you must first contact the Internship Coordinator or the CRP Department Head via phone or e-mail to obtain tentative approval. Within three days of tentative approval, you must follow up by submitting your Internship Agreement, completed and signed by you, your supervisor and the Internship Coordinator, along with the job description. Please be aware that the CRP Department Head and Internship Coordinator may not hold full-time office hours during summer break. Please contact the CRP Office.
What is an appropriate internship, and what constitutes a satisfactory product?
An appropriate internship is one which gives you an understanding and appreciation of what planners do professionally. You are expected to assume responsibility for a work product or a series of work products to be predetermined prior to undertaking the job. This may include, but should not be exclusive to, preparing all or substantial parts of surveys, reports, general plan elements, site plans, designs, policy and plan recommendations, EIR’s, development reviews, presentations before the public, etc.
Where the duties of the intern do not result in substantial products such as giving out information at the public counter, or participating in work still in progress when the internship period ends, your keeping a daily journal recording events such as meetings, field trips, even personal observations, will be an acceptable product. Performing duties such as surveying local business licenses or similar non-planning work for a public agency, routine data entry, or having a job as a "gofer" in a planning office is unacceptable for credit, though, some "gofer" work is normal. You must know what type of work assignments you will do before accepting the internship. Therefore, discussion with the person in charge of interns at your placement is essential prior to signing on.
Is working at a construction site or for an architectural firm designing individual buildings or doing working drawings an appropriate form of internship?
No. Internships are designed to expose you to what planners do, though some consulting firms are staffed with qualified planners who do professional work which satisfies the internship requirement. If in doubt, check with the Internship Coordinator before you apply for the internship.
Can paid or unpaid work as a research assistant for a faculty member earn internship credit?
No. Internships are designed to give students some experience of the routines and special projects encountered in a professional practice which includes contact with the public, agency officials, clients, and other staff members. However, if a faculty member maintains a full-time off-campus office which is regularly staffed, work performed here would qualify for credit. Students can earn other forms of academic credit for working with a faculty member on a research project which can be a good learning experience. If in doubt, check with the Internship Coordinator.
Can I get credit for work done in the past?
This may be possible; however, you need to have the approval of the Internship Coordinator and provide all course work and completed supervisor evaluations. Whether or not the prior work is counted will depend on the appropriateness of the work experience and the timeframe in which it was completed. Normally any work more than three years old will not qualify. Should you decide to pursue this route, be prepared to make a strong written case for this and to explain why recommended procedures for enrollment did not apply.
What documentation from my internship must I provide when I return to campus?
On completion of the internship, please submit the following packet to the Internship Coordinator:
1. A short report, preferably seven to nine double-spaced pages (1800-2200 words, 12-point font) that cover the highlights of your internship. Include personal comments and reflect on what you learned. Also discuss what improvements could be made in this placement. You can use the Post-Internship Report Format (see attached) or another format, provided those topics are covered.
2. Sample of products (reports, studies, memos, designs, etc.) developed during the internship identifying what portion was done by you (these are appendices to the report).
3. An optional daily journal listing nature of work performed during the internship and duration of the work. This journal is mandatory where no work product is submitted.
What is the deadline for submitting a post-internship report?
The end of the fourth week of classes of the quarter you are enrolled in CRP 409 or at the discretion of the Internship Coordinator.
When do I meet with the CRP 409 Internship Coordinator?
You need the Internship Coordinator’s approval of the internship. Schedule a meeting if you have any doubts about the appropriateness of the work experience. You should meet with the coordinator to discuss questions about documentation and if you need a letter of recommendation.
One or more general meetings of all interns will be scheduled each quarter to discuss progress of work, issues of professional practices and the final reports and documentation needed. During the quarter in which you are enrolled in CRP 409, all required documentation is to be submitted to the Internship Coordinator by the end of the 9th week of classes. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Internship Coordinator.
- Find a placement – start early
- Talk to placement intern coordinator or supervisor at the potential employer
- Talk to CRP Internship Coordinator
- Perform the internship
- Attend internship meetings (during the quarter)
- Submit your report and work products (week 9)
- Have Placement Supervisor complete and submit your performance evaluation (week 9)
- Reflect on this educational opportunity that helped build skills and was fun in the process, then find another placement!