The Jewish Studies Program encourages students to engage in meaningful, enriching extracurricular activities that enhance their education and further their career plans—and in many cases we can offer you academic credit. One terrific alternative is to intern with a Jewish institution or organization concerned with Jewish issues. In the past Penn State students have worked at our local synagogue, assisted at Hillel, contributed to the development of an on-line course, and served Jewish institutions in New York and elsewhere.
Some organizations solicit interns by contacting academic units like Jewish Studies Programs, and we will certainly publicize these opportunities as they become available. Most, however, do not. It thus becomes the task of students to seek out internship opportunities by contacting organizations that interest them to learn if internships are available. We can definitely help you brainstorm about this process. You might also think about contacting the Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network for help in finding an internship.
Jewish Studies Internship Requirements
A student wanting to pursue an internship and receive academic credit for it must have completed at least two Jewish Studies courses with a grade of C or higher. To gain credit for an internship, make an appointment with the Director of the Jewish Studies Program to complete the registration process. The Director will ask you to describe the parameters of the proposed internship. Be prepared to discuss the following questions:
- What are the internship’s planned start and end dates? How long will it last?
- Who will sponsor the internship? Will the sponsor be an academic unit of Penn State University? If so, we’re dealing with an internal internship (see below).
- Who will be the intern’s site supervisor? Note that you will need to provide a specific name and contact information if this will be an external internship (see below).
- What specific tasks will you perform in conjunction with the internship?
- How many hours per week will the intern (you!) be expected to work?
- How many academic credits do you expect to earn? (Penn State University suggests that interns work a total of 40 hours for each academic credit hour; thus the equivalent of a standard 3-credic course would entail working 120 hours over the course of the internship.)
- How do you expect to be evaluated by the internship sponsor? This information should be provided by the internship sponsor and should be included in the Letter of Agreement (see below).
- How do you expect to be evaluated by the Jewish Studies Program?
Internal internships—internships in which you’re working here at Penn State, say with a Jewish Studies professor—are relatively easy to deal with, but also relatively less common than external internships. We won’t go into detail here; discuss these with the Jewish Studies Director.
An external internship is one that is not directly supervised and sponsored by a faculty member in an academic unit of the Pennsylvania State University.
External Internship Letter of Agreement
You will be required to submit a document, an Internship Letter of Agreement, that outlines the scope of the internship and addresses each of the internship plan bullet points listed above. Both you and the site supervisor must sign this document before the internship commences in order for you to receive academic credit. The document’s purpose is to protect you, the internship supervisor, and the internship sponsor from misunderstandings. It also ensures that your internship will meet Penn State’s academic standards.
Academic Evaluation and Grading of an External Internship
At the conclusion of your external internship you should expect to submit to the Director of Jewish Studies evidence of your internship achievements—items such as (but not necessarily limited to) the following:
- A diary that describes the activities you engaged in during the course of the internship;
- Copies of any (non-proprietary) materials you produced in the course of your internship, such as lesson plans, reports, and flyers;
- An essay that identifies and summarizes what you learned through the internship.
- In addition, the internship supervisor will be expected to submit a suggested grade to the Director of Jewish Studies along with materials that support the suggested grade.