When should I undertake the internship? Should I wait until my senior year?
You may undertake the internship at any point in your studies. Part of the rationale for the IE Pre-Graduate School Internship is to get students thinking about graduate school well in advance of their senior year. What is discovered during the internship, for example, might influence subsequent course decisions. The appropriate time to undertake the internship depends on the discipline (your proposed field of graduate study), your intellectual maturity and academic readiness, and the wishes of your potential faculty supervisor. If you know the discipline in which you wish to do the internship and know faculty in that program, you should seek their advice.
How do I get started?
Is the internship offered every semester?
The internship course is offered in fall and spring semesters only.
Why should I also work with a graduate student "mentor?"
In order to decide whether you should pursue a graduate degree (and in what discipline) it is important to know something about the culture of graduate study and the climate of the program for students. Veteran graduate students can tell you a lot about what it is like to be a graduate student; they know first-hand the pluses and minuses of graduate study. In addition, by "shadowing" a graduate student, you will discover the range of their activities and work assignments; you will learn, for example, what it means to be a teaching or research assistant and what it means to engage in creative or scholarly projects—all of which are essential parts of graduate study and make it different than what you do as an undergraduate. Along with your faculty supervisor, a graduate student "mentor" can help answer questions and open the door for you to the program's activities and events; s/he will allow you to see what it is like on a daily basis to be a graduate student and the array of things graduate students do and about which they think. This exposure also will enable you to obtain a glimpse of students at the beginning, middle, and end of their graduate student tenure.
Beyond working in my proposed degree program, what is the advantage of undertaking this internship?
The biggest advantage is that you will share your internship experiences with students in dozens of other fields. Often one learns more about themselves and the potential value of graduate education through the experiences of others. Moreover, the experiences of other interns may prompt you to ask questions of your faculty supervisor and graduate student mentor or gather information that initially had not occurred to you. In the IE Program we have learned that some of the most important things are learned when people from different disciplines and backgrounds get together to share experiences. In fact, students often comment that many discussions regarding career choice, ethical commitments, and one's passions cannot or do not naturally occur within their department; sometimes there is a need for a "safe space" in which to engage in these conversations. Finally, the IE Pre-Graduate School Internship will allow you to interact individually and as a group with a former Associate Dean of Graduate Studies who has knowledge of how graduate education works (in a variety of disciplines and institutions)—from the time one makes application to graduate school to their choice of career and job placement. He will be able to help you locate resources both at UT and elsewhere to assist in determining whether graduate school is right for you; he also can assist you in navigating the red-tape associated with applying to graduate school and devising the best strategies for putting together a strong application.
If you have other questions, please contact Dr. Darwin at 512-468-7246.