An important component of The Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources Internship Program is the opportunity to enhance your classroom learning with actual on-the-job experience through internships. Internships can be an exciting way to learn more about the field you have chosen and can help to prepare you for your career.

As the Career Services Coordinator for The Rubenstein School, I am happy to work with you to develop the internship opportunities you need to gain this valuable experience. This handbook discusses the importance of internships, suggests ways of finding them, and outlines the steps needed to obtain academic credit for your experience.

My office is located in Aiken 220G. Please stop by to discuss your interest in an internship. Together we will work to identify potential internships, develop your resume and cover letter, and begin the application process. To schedule an appointment, please call me at 656-3002 or sign up for an appointment on the sheets posted outside my office. I look forward to working with each of you.

Anna Smiles-Becker, Career Services Coordinator
Aiken 220G, Phone: 656-3002


Internships - What Are They?

Why Do an Internship?

Who Is Eligible For Internship Placement?

What Type Of Internship Is Best For You?

Where Should You Begin?

How Is Academic Credit Arranged?

How Do You Identify A Faculty Advisor?

How Do You Find Internship Opportunities?

How Do You Apply For An Internship That Interests You? 

Legal Issues to Consider

Table of academic credits per hours of internship



"TO DO" List

About the Learning Contract

Tips on completing the Learning Contract (pdf)




Internship Guidelines for Faculty and Employer Sponsors (pdf)






An internship is an opportunity for a student to "learn by doing".  Whether the experience occurs in an office, a lab, or a field setting, it is an opportunity for you to test your career objectives while gaining valuable experience in your chosen field.

The benefits of an internship are many and include:

Opportunities for internships exist in every type of organization, including non-profit agencies, corporations, small businesses, and all levels of government.  Internships may be completed during the academic year while you are taking classes, or they might involve a more extensive program during the summer months. 

Internships through The Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources may be paid or unpaid, and may or may not involve academic credit. If you wish to receive academic credit for the internship experience, a Learning Contract must be established prior to the start of the internship.  This contract is discussed in detail on page six, and a contract for you to use is located in the center of this handbook. 


Internships can be just what you're looking for to get started in the environmental fields.  Relevant experience is critical if you are to be competitive in the job market after graduation, and internships are an excellent way to get that experience while you are pursuing your degree. Internship experience is important for all majors, and students are strongly encouraged to incorporate three to six credits of internship experience when planning their curriculum, if not more! 

1: Relevant experience

All work experience, whether paid or volunteer, provides you with skills that may be transferable.  However, the more closely aligned your experiences are with the job you are seeking, the more likely you are to develop skills which will help you succeed.  Sometimes termed "relevant experience," internships are an excellent way to gain this type of experience. Identify an organization where you might gain the experience you desire, and contact them to explore the possibilities!

2: Marketability

Your University of Vermont degree will be valuable to you in "opening doors" in the environmental fields.  But, relevant experience will make your degree more marketable.  Competition is stiff, and the more relevant experience you have, the better your chances are of landing the job you are seeking.  Internships can help you gain that experience.

3: Clarifying Goals

Perhaps you are unclear about your career path, or need to make a choice about specialization within your field. An internship can help you in clarifying your goals. The opportunity to put theory into practice in a real-world setting may provide new insights into what it is you would like to do - or perhaps more importantly - what you don't want to do with your degree.  You will become increasingly aware of your special skills and abilities.  This awareness may point you in a new direction or reaffirm your current strategy.

4: Networking

The old adage, "It's who you know that counts", is very true in today's job market.

"Networking is critical in finding 'green employment'. Eighty-five percent of all jobs are found through what is called the hidden job market; positions obtained through advertisements, executive search firms, and other sources account for only fifteen percent of all jobs. Chances are, if you aren't networking, you aren't working."    Green At Work, pg. 14.

Internships are key to building a network of environmental professionals who can assist you in identifying permanent employment after graduation.  Reference letters from environ-mental professionals recommending you for a position could give you the edge you need to secure a job. These contacts and others you develop will also help you to discover opportunities in the "hidden job market" mentioned above.  Your network should also include faculty and administrators at UVM, as well as family members, and others you interact with throughout your college career.



Students enrolled in The Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, who are in good academic standing will be considered for internship placement.   Environmental Science and Environmental Studies majors in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as well as the College of Arts and Sciences may also use this program.   Generally, students should have completed their sophomore year, and have demonstrated motivation, dependability, and a willingness to accept responsibility.  However, some internships are available for first year students.

It is recommended that you discuss your interest in pursuing an internship with your faculty advisor and with Anna Smiles-Becker, the Career Services Coordinator in The Rubenstein School.  The internships through this program may not fulfill the practicum required for Recreation Management students.  These students should meet with their faculty advisors to discuss specific major requirements.


As mentioned earlier, internships may be paid or unpaid and, if a Learning Contract is established, you can receive academic credit for the experience.  It is important to explore all of your options before reaching a decision regarding the type of internship best suited to your needs.  Some of the best internships are not paid but may provide a wonderful experience.  Others may offer a stipend or an hourly salary.

Consider also whether it is best for you to do an internship during the academic year or during the summer.  The maximum number of credits granted for an internship is 6 credits, requiring 300 intern hours.  The Career Services Coordinator can help you in determining the type of internship that best suits your needs. 



Begin by discussing with your faculty advisor regarding your interest in an internship. Your advisor might even recommend potential internship sites for you to explore.  Also, make an appointment with the Career Services Coordinator in The Rubenstein School to determine what type of internship is best for you, and to plan a strategy for developing the internship. 

The best advice for finding an internship: Start Early!

It takes time to research and identify internships. You should be working at least one full semester ahead of the time you want to begin the internship.  If you are seeking academic credit for the internship, a Learning Contract is required.  The Internship Checklist should help you cover each step within a reasonable timeline.



Step One: Complete the Learning Contract

To receive academic credit for your internship experience, you must establish a Learning Contract prior to the start of your internship.  This contract is an agreement between you, your employer sponsor, and a faculty advisor that spells out the terms of the internship and what is expected of each of the parties involved.   If you are not seeking academic credit, no Learning Contract is required.

The contract will describe the responsibilities of the intern, the start and end dates of the internship, and what compensation (if any) will be paid to the intern.  It also identifies who your supervisor will be at the work site.

You, as the intern, will need to complete the "Learning Objectives" portion of the contract.  You simply need to state what it is you hope to gain from this internship. This might include the learning of new skills, the chance to enhance current skills, or perhaps the opportunity to explore new areas of endeavor in your field.  Your faculty advisor can help you to identify possible objectives and goals for the internship.

You, your faculty advisor, and the Career Services Coordinator complete the Contract Requirements section.  The requirements might include the keeping of a journal or field notes, preparation of papers, presentations on topics covered during your internship or other materials agreed upon by you and your advisor. The deadline date for submission of all materials should also be specified.  You will receive a letter grade from your faculty advisor for the materials submitted by you to your faculty advisor upon completion of your internship.

The contract requires the signatures of all parties involved - the employer sponsor, faculty advisor, and the intern.  Once you have obtained these signatures, bring the contract to the Career Services Coordinator for final confirmation.  The Career Services Coordinator will review the contract, insure that the agreed upon terms are in keeping with the guidelines established for The Rubenstein School’s internships and will, if all is in order, sign the contract.    She will then send a final confirmation of the internship arrangements along with a copy of the completed contract to all of the parties involved.

Step Two: Register for the internship credits

Register for the course number and appropriate number of credits agreed to in your contract.  The process for registering for internship credits is the same as registering for other courses and ALL of the same rules apply. 

Step Three: Once registered, you must complete the internship and contract requirements or drop the credits prior to the add/drop deadline for that semester.  You will receive a letter grade (A-F) for your internship.

If you have questions about this registration process, or the number of credits registered for in a given semester, please speak with the Career Services Coordinator. 

If you are completing an internship during the semester, be sure to finalize your Learning Contract and register prior to the last day to add classes.  If this is a summer internship, complete the Learning Contract prior to beginning the internship and discuss with Anna how to register for academic credit.  Again, be sure to register before the last day to add classes. 

To complete your internship, you must meet all of the contract requirements and work the number of hours set forth in the contract.   It is important that you complete all requirements in a timely manner.  If you are having difficulty with completing requirements, speak with your faculty advisor.

If you are having any difficulties during the internship, please feel free to contact Anna Smiles-Becker to discuss the problem.  She will work with you to identify potential solutions and provide you with the support necessary to resolve issues that arise.  






To receive academic credit for an internship, a Learning Contract must be developed.  Academic credit will not be granted retroactively.  Therefore, it is essential that the Learning Contract be developed before the internship begins.  The factors determining which experiences will be considered for academic credit include:

The general time commitment required for credits to be granted is:

3 credits.....................150  hours

4 credits.....................200  hours

5 credits.....................250  hours

6 credits.....................300 or more hours

 The maximum credits granted for one internship is six (even if the hourly commitment exceeds 300 hours).   In addition to the total hours performed, the intern must also complete the Contract Requirements agreed to in the Learning Contract. These requirements are determined by the intern, the faculty advisor, and the Career Services Coordinator when the contract is developed, and prior to the start of the internship.  The faculty advisor assigns a grade once the contract requirements have been completed.


A faculty advisor will be required for your Learning Contract.  Your assigned faculty advisor may serve as the advisor for the internship.  He/she will be in an excellent position to advise you on the timing and type of internship best suited to your curriculum.  You might also ask a faculty member from a favorite class to serve as your advisor.  The choice is yours. 

Meet with the faculty member you select to discuss their willingness to serve as your advisor for this internship, the specifics of the internship, the credits being sought, and to develop the contract requirements.   Make sure you are clear about and comfortable with the contract requirements before you sign the contract.


There are many sources of internship information...

Use your "network" of family, friends, classmates, faculty, former employers, and others to help you with ideas for possible internships.

Meet with the Career Services Coordinator to develop a strategy for identifying and applying for potential internships.  Meet with your faculty advisor to discuss your interest in finding an internship.  Your advisor might be able to recommend specific internship programs for you to consider or professional journals for you to research.  Call Anna at 656-3002 or email at

The Office of Experiential Learning section of the Rubenstein School's website is another great place to start researching internship and/or job opportunities. There are also web links to many environmental employers that include current internships and job postings.

Career Services, located in Living/Learning Building E, also provides assistance with resume writing, has an extensive Career Library and posts internships and full-time jobs on their website.  Be sure to take advantage of their services. Catamount Job Link posts hundreds of internship and job opportunities. Click . You can also access the alumni database called Career Connection from this site.  This database will help you identify UVM alums who have volunteered to assist students in finding internships, jobs, or to learn more about their field.

OR create your own internship!. Consider the type of work you are seeking and identify the organizations that might perform that type of work.  Contact them to explore the possibility of setting up an internship.  Sometimes the best opportunities are those that you create.  Once you have identified an internship, follow the steps outlined in earlier sections to receive academic credit.



Most internship postings will identify the materials needed to apply for their internship program.  In almost all instances, you will need a strong resume that reflects who you are and what you are capable of doing.  Some organizations may request that you send an application along with your resume.

Meet with the Career Services Coordinator for assistance in preparing your resume.   Click here for online resume tips. You may also seek resume assistance from Career Services in L/L E Building by calling 656-3450.  Remember, your resume is critical to your success in identifying an internship - take the time needed to make it the best.

Some programs request that your application be channeled through a specific individual such as the Career Services Coordinator.  Be sure that your application packet is complete and watch the deadlines posted.  Get your materials together and in as early as possible.

You may be asked to provide letters of reference from faculty members or employers.  It is wise to speak with these people prior to beginning your search to make them aware of your efforts and to be sure you can use their name as a reference. Also, convey specifics about the internships to those providing references so they are prepared to talk about your strengths as they relate to the requirements of that internship. 

Be sure to keep track of the resumes you have mailed and the responses you receive.  Follow up with those employers that you feel are most likely to have an internship opportunity. Sometimes a brief phone call will help to stimulate interest in a project you are proposing.  Prepare your comments and materials before placing the call so that you present yourself well.



Paid or Unpaid Internship?

Compensation for internships varies widely.  Some organizations offer no compensation and require that you be registered for credits with the university.  Others may offer a stipend, which is a set dollar amount for a specified period of time.  An hourly salary may be provided along with other benefits including room and board or mileage reimbursement.  It is important that you understand not only the internship requirements but also the benefits offered.  Don’t hesitate to ask questions about this before accepting the internship.

Health Insurance Coverage

Check your personal health insurance to be certain you are covered not only while taking classes but also while working as an intern. Some policies do not provide coverage unless you are enrolled in classes.

Liability Issues to Consider

Students have historically been shielded from liability as well as protected under the same legal guidelines as regular employees if you are:  (1) being paid hourly or weekly by a for-profit organization for your work as an intern, or (2) volunteering or interning, either paid or unpaid, at a non-profit organization.  You are also likely to be shielded from liability if you are receiving academic credit from your college or university for your internship work. 

However, in instances where for-profit employers provide no compensation or limited compensation, you may not be eligible for either protection from liability or an extension of the same rights that a regular employee would receive.  Because your legal rights are dependent on how both your individual work and your specific host employer would be defined, we strongly advise that students have a conversation with their potential host employer to clarify these issues.



Successfully identifying an internship will require your commitment to researching internship opportunities and the development of a resume. If you are seeking academic credit for this internship, you will also need to develop a Learning Contract.  This Internship Checklist outlines the steps involved in completing a successful internship:

____    Determine the type of internship most appropriate for you.  Seek advice from your faculty advisor.

____    Meet with the Career Services Coordinator, to begin applying for internships.

____    Prepare your resume. 

____    Identify internships of interest and make contact. Send your resume and cover letter.

____    Prepare for interviews by researching the position and organization.  (Bring a copy of your resume to the interview just in case you need it.)

____    Once an internship is identified, confirm your understanding of the internship in writing either with a letter or if seeking credit, with the learning contract.


NOTE: If you are not seeking credit, a letter of understanding from the employer should be helpful in outlining the expectations of the internship.  (The remaining steps on this checklist are for those seeking academic credit for the internship.)


____    If seeking credit, complete and turn in the Learning Contract.  Develop the Learning Contract with the Employer Sponsor, and get the employer's signature on the back of the form.

____    Outline your learning objectives in the contract.

____    Identify a faculty advisor, develop the contract requirements, and determine the credits to be granted.  Both you and your faculty advisor must sign the contract.

____    Return the Learning Contract to the Career Services Coordinator for confirmation and her signature.

____    Register for the appropriate course and number of credits.  Be sure to register before the deadline.

____    Maintain contact with your faculty advisor and the Career Services Coordinator throughout the internship.

____    Complete the contract requirements by the deadline dates and receive your grade.


If you have any questions, feel free to contact Anna Smiles-Becker at 656-3002.  Remember, if you are not seeking academic credit, the Learning Contract is not required.  However, it is important to keep Anna informed of your progress and to confirm completion of the internship.

Readings for Interns