Internship FAQ for Mentors
Table of Contents
- What is the purpose of the internship program?
- Internship Program Benefits:
- What does being a Mentor entail?
- What if my department does not have the funds to pay an Intern?
- How many hours a week do I need to commit to mentoring an intern?
- Do I have to “teach” my intern?
- What are my expectations as a mentor?
- Can I mentor more than one intern?
- Can my department/site host more than one intern?
- Can I split responsibilities of being a mentor with another staff member?
- How will Cooperative Extension Internships be advertised/promoted?
- How are interns selected/ assigned?
- Process to become a Mentor:
- Intern Expectations:
- Academic Credit
- Who do I reach out to if I have a problem?
The purpose of our Internship program is to: raise the visibility of UMaine Cooperative Extension with students, build more connections for our programs, provide mentoring to students, provide Cooperative Extension based networking opportunities to students, expose students to the dynamics of extension to better understand the positive influence extension has on people’s lives and the State of Maine, increase interest in S.T.E.M. majors/careers, and create a pipeline for future employees.
2.a. How can my department/ site benefit from hosting an intern?
Your department/ site can benefit in many ways. Do you have a project that an intern could possibly complete for you? Do you have a staff member that would like to gain more supervisory experience? Do you have a staff member interested in mentoring? Do you have a staff member who would like to gain experience working with college students?
2.b. Why should I volunteer to mentor an intern?
There are many benefits to mentoring an intern. It is an opportunity to get supervisory experience. It’s an opportunity to work with 17- to 25-year-old individuals. It is a chance to get mentoring experience, and many people say being a mentor gives them a sense of fulfillment they don’t get from other aspects of their job. It helps with career advancement. It is an opportunity to gain future employees. It is an opportunity to work with other employees of UMaine Cooperative Extension that you might not otherwise work with. If part of your job involves teaching, it is a chance to get more “in-tune” with your students. It is a chance to shake things up and get out of your day-to-day rut.
Currently, there are funds to provide payment to a limited number of Interns. Interns are classified as Student Employees and must make minimum wage at $12.75 per hour. Hiring Interns must go through the same process as hiring student workers and thereby must be paid hourly.
The hours for each internship will vary but the range will most likely be between 4 and 20 hours per week. One hour each week should be dedicated time for you to meet one-on-one with your Intern (These do not have to be “formal” meetings; they can be “brown-bag lunch” style if that works for you and your Intern). Depending on the project and the time expectation of the Internship, daily or additional check-ins may be required to keep everyone on pace for completion of the project. Please see our resources for Mentors to get a better idea of your expectations and the time commitment they might involve for you and your desired internship project. In addition, you should set aside time to participate in the Extension Internship programming opportunities such as Orientation, Networking Events, The Interns’ Project Presentation Events, and the end of Internship Celebration event. A schedule should be provided around the beginning of your internship.
This is a mentoring experience so you will be expected to “coach” your intern. (In educational theory this would be the scaffolding approach.)
In addition, if your intern is seeking academic credit, you will need to make sure that the project lines up with the requirements for academic credit according to the parameters of the student’s program (this is if the student wants to count your Internship for their internship requirement for their major. Otherwise, you will just need to create the learning contract (link below) with your Intern and make sure it is followed.)
Please see our Mentor Expectations.
It is not advisable to mentor more than one Intern. This tends to create poor quality internship experiences for the Interns. If your location has a need for more than one Intern, think about who on your staff might make a good mentor and would be willing to do it? Exceptions would be made for locations that already have established-successful Internship programs and want to add on an Extension Internship. (Ex. 4-H Camps that already run summer 4-H internship programs and would like to add an Extension Internship experience.)
Yes, please feel free to host more than one intern. Just make sure each intern you need has a staff member able to be a mentor. A one-to-one ratio of mentor to intern is the preferred format for our internship program. (See above question for more clarity.)
Yes, we would ask that you split responsibilities with someone who is also in your department, but exceptions could be made for certain internships. If you wish to split responsibilities, you will need to be very specific on the job split in your Designing An Internship Form, and on your job description, so the Intern knows what to expect.
All Cooperative Extension internships will be advertised and promoted on the Career Link site through the UMaine Career Center. Cooperative Extension will have its own page and we will list internships on this site. Once you have the details worked out about the internship you would like to offer please work with Caitlin Ramsay (email@example.com) to get our internship posted on Career Link.
You will have the opportunity to promote your internship, interview prospective interns, and select your intern.
Mentors will need to fill out the Designing An Internship Form to notify the Internship Coordinators and Leadership Team of their interest in hosting an internship. Mentors will need to work with their Intern to create a Learning Contract. Mentors will need to write up a job description for their planned internship and submit it to Caitlin Ramsay to be posted on Career Link.
Of course, we want to encourage all staff of UMaine Cooperative Extension to be Internship Mentors. Just make sure you have the time available to devote to your Intern and a project that is more than just busy work.
The hours for each internship will vary but the range will most likely be between Four and Twenty hours per week. The expected weekly schedule of work should be created early on based on the needs of the project when the Learning Contract is created. Flexibility for illness and other academic work should be expected. If the intern is planning on going on vacation during the internship, that should be discussed early on and arrangements made in advance. If your intern is doing their internship as a full-time student, the recommended student employment hours are 9 hours per week. During the academic school year, hours cannot exceed 20 hours per week.
During COVID most interns will be working remotely (some exceptions may be made for Summer outside-based internships.) However, Interns not working remotely should have a “home base.” This would be a space that would allow them to put their things, with the reasonable expectation that their stuff would not get stolen there. If their internship requires desk work, then a desk area should be provided.
During COVID most interns will be working remotely (some exceptions may be made for Summer outside-based internships.) If for some reason your intern is not working remotely and we get mandated to return to working from home, your intern’s job responsibilities will be adapted in line with the rest of your site’s employees. If an Intern is working for credit, some other adaptations may be needed. Please consult with the Intern’s Academic Advisor if this is the case.
Please look at past internship projects to get a better idea.
Yes, they can opt out of getting academic credit for the internship.
Each student will work with the internship mentor to create a learning contract, which is required to receive academic credit. The intern can receive academic credit through their department (if their major has an internship credit option) or through UMaine Career Center. Mentors and Interns will have to work with the student’s department to make sure their internship aligns with their major’s internship credit requirements.
Each internship experience will have at least three main learning objectives for the internship. The objectives will be realistic, achievable, and represent a substantive learning experience for student interns. An example of a learning objective could be: Conduct outreach with current and prospective stakeholders by using various methods of communication. There will also be learning tasks that will support the learning objectives. The learning tasks would be the intern’s specific responsibilities for the internship.
Each Cooperative Extension Internship will offer the Intern an opportunity to be involved with some sort of research. Examples could include but are not limited to: working closely with a researcher to support their research project, researching something to support the project, or conducting surveys. Each Internship job description should have a basic outline of the expected research component expected of that Internship opportunity. Any interested students in potential internship opportunities, that still have questions regarding the research component after having read the job description, are encouraged to reach out to the Mentor associated with the Internship for clarification.
A learning contract is a document that is collaborated between the Mentor and the Intern for the Intern to receive academic credit. A list of things the student wishes to learn or accomplish while completing the internship will be generated. The student in collaboration with their Mentor should determine if the goals are appropriate for their particular internship.
In some academic programs, a learning contract may exist in the form of a syllabus with specific requirements for successful completion of an internship for academic credit. To find out if the student’s academic program offers internship graduation requirements, please reach out to Advising and Academic Support Services.
As a mentor for an intern depending on the nature of the problem, there can be multiple options to consider. In some cases, you may need to have a direct conversation with the intern to resolve the problem. You can also connect with your supervisor, consult another Mentor within Cooperative Extension, reach out to Cooperative Extension’s Human Resources person (Fran Sulinski) or The Extension Internship Coordinators (Caitlin Ramsay or Lisa Phelps).