Internships during the school year are an integral part of the student experience at Georgetown, preparing students for the working world and allowing them to try out different career options before graduation. One of Georgetown’s major draws for prospective students is its proximity to internships in a wide variety of industries, from government internships to privatesector internships. In light of the fact that a large portion of the student body participates in unpaid or underpaid internships during the school year — students averaged 2.6 internships by graduation in the 2013-2014 academic year — administrators should offer more academic credits to better recognize students who seek to learn outside the classroom.
Currently, the four undergraduate schools handle course credit for internships very differently. The School of Nursing and Health Studies mandates that three of its four majors include a sizable and competitive internship as a component for their graduation requirements. Meanwhile, Georgetown College and the McDonough School of Business offer a handful of internship-based three-credit courses such as “Public Policy Internship and Seminar,” “Media Techniques” or “Internship in Business.” In addition, the College offers a one-credit course to supplement an internship in the public sector. The School of Foreign Service does not offer academic credit for internships unless a student gets a Dean’s permission to sit in one of the MSB’s or College’s internship courses. So, for the majority of students who are not in the NHS, there is no concrete way to translate the applicable skills learned in an internship into course credits beyond these meager course offerings.
A significant number of internships, both paid and unpaid, require proof of credit to hire a student. Georgetown’s stipulations, which often prevent students from receiving credit, make students uncompetitive in relation to its Georgetown’s peer institutions. Additionally, internship classes that require additional coursework increase students’ workload in a manner that is not consistent to credit hours earned and further disincentives students from procuring internships.
Georgetown students need a stronger and better system on campus to concretely reward them for their internships. Easing the entry requirements in the College’s one-credit course or partnering with more firms to offer three-credit internship courses would be innovative ways to tangibly demonstrate the importance of internships in the daily lives of students. Georgetown should recognize that part of educating the whole person should also be reinforcing, through course credit, the professional knowledge built in the real-world experiences that internships provide.