Intellectual Entrepreneurship: Pre-Graduate School Internship Syllabus

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Meetings and Assignments

The following information provides interns with an overview of the internship's mandatory meetings and assignments. The bulk of the work that interns complete for the internship will stem from the "curriculum" or plan that is created between the intern and their mentor and/or faculty supervisor. It is this curriculum that will shape the internship experience and will serve as the foundation for the interns' participation in the required meetings and assignments.

*All meeting dates will be provided to the intern once s/he submits their contract and then again at the beginning of the semester via the Blackboard site*

First Meeting: Introductions

The first meeting is a face-to-face introduction. In preparation, the interns write a brief introduction of themselves and post it on Blackboard's online "discussion board." Following a few brief remarks about the program, the interns break off into small groups. They introduce themselves by explaining how they and their respective mentors have structured the semester. They discuss the projects and activities that they and their mentors have planned, and talk about hopes for the internship's completion. These introductions lead into another important conversation: students' motivations for undertaking this challenge. Why have they chosen the internship as a way to explore graduate school? How did they connect with the person who is now their mentor? What questions and concerns do they have as they begin then internship? What do they expect to get out the experience?

Second Meeting: Life as a Faculty Member
The second meeting focuses on academic "insiders" perspectives on their work and identities. Several faculty members from different colleges and departments at UT attend, speaking about their experiences of research, teaching, service/engagement and professional membership. More importantly, they answer the interns' questions and provide advice for entering into graduate school. In preparation for the second meeting, the interns become ethnographers of their own discipline. They interview one or two faculty members in their internship department to investigate academia. At the meeting, the interns begin a dialogue with the faculty visitors, reporting on what they found to be most interesting or surprising in their interviews.

Third Meeting : Being a Graduate Student

The third meeting is a Q & A session to which all of the graduate student mentors are invited. The interns ask questions about a being graduate student (applications, career plans, financial challenges, work-life balance, etc.). Their assignment is to come prepared with at least seven specific questions for the Graduate Student Panel.

Fourth Meeting: Final Reflections
The last preparatory assignment is required for the internship course, and serves as a basis for the fourth meeting. It is a 3-5 page essay analyzing the entire internship experience. The essays take different forms depending on the structure of each internship. For example, if an intern worked primarily as a research assistant (e.g., data collection and analysis, etc.), the final essay speaks to the project's outcome. If the research was less traditional in nature (taking place e.g., in the liberal or performing arts), the intern might analyze more broadly what he/she has learned about the field, or how he/she has changed as a performer and/or critic? Unlike most course assignments, the students put themselves in the center of the analysis. Each intern also prepares to present his/her essay at the meeting (3min). The key question for the final meeting is: How will the philosophy of the Pre-Graduate School Internship be present with each intern as he/she completes a college degree and potentially enters graduate education and other endeavors?

Assignments Specifications – A little More Detail:


Before our first meeting, please post a brief introduction of yourself. Tell us for example your name, your area of study, the field in which you are undertaking an internship, your mentor, and something about your hopes and plans for the semester.

Faculty Interview Questions & Notes – Become ethnographers of your own discipline

What does this mean? In order to better understand the discipline in which you are undertaking the internship (NOTE: not necessarily the discipline in which you are majoring), we are asking you to interview one or two faculty members in your internship field. e.g. If you are majoring in business but are undertaking this internship in government, you will interview faculty members in the government department – NOT business. If you are majoring in business AND are undertaking this internship in business, then you will interview faculty members in the business school.

The purpose of this exercise is to investigate how professors in the field in which you are undertaking the internship achieved their goals and become leaders in academia – Did they think about pursuing this path in undergrad? How did they choose their graduate school options? How do they balance their career and personal life? Post your questions, their answers and notes/observations from your interview on Blackboard.

Graduate Mentor Questions & Notes

Think of a minimum of seven questions that you'd like to ask your graduate student mentor (if you only have a faculty supervisor, modify accordingly). Interview them in the fashion that suits you two the best – in person if you meet regularly or via email or phone.

The purpose of this exercise is better understand your mentor's position as a graduate student – Was it what they expected? What is the classroom culture like? Why did they choose graduate school – or their specific program? Graduate school is incredibly tough and exhausting – but also rewarding. What keeps them going? Post your questions, their answers and notes/observations from your interview on Blackboard. Additionally, come prepared to the third meeting to ask these same questions or others that you may have, to the graduate mentors who will serve as panelists that evening.

Final Essays

All students who participate in the Pre-Graduate School Internship are required a write a 3-5pp final essay in which you reflect on the internship experience as a whole. Your assignment for the 4th meeting is to write this essay. Again, the topic is broad, which means that you'll be doing some thinking of your own. To get you started, consider the following possible approaches:

If your semester consisted primarily of a research project (e.g., data collection, literature review, analysis, etc.) what knowledge have you gained about that area of study as a result of the internship? Where is the project now as compared to the beginning of the semester? Reflect on your own role as a budding researcher and contributor to the project.

If you worked on a less traditional project (e.g., in the liberal or performing arts), what have you learned about the field that you didn't know going into the internship? How have you changed as a performer and/or critic?

If the main focus of your internship was preparing for graduate school (including the application process) and investigating the life of a graduate student, what did you find most surprising? What were your biggest revelations? How has your thinking about graduate school changed as a result of the program?

If your internship took you off campus into a professional realm, what did you discover?

In addition to writing the essay and posting it on Blackboard, be prepared to speak to the group for about 2-3 minutes at the 4th meeting, in a sense presenting your essay. The essays will serve as supplemental grounds for course evaluation.

Attendance & "Reflections" for Missed Meetings:

All scheduled meetings for the IE Internship are mandatory.

If you are unable to attend it is your duty to email Ruby, letting her know that you will not be present.

Additionally, since you will not have attended the scheduled meeting, you must write a Reflection on Blackboard updating us all on your progress with your mentor and/or faculty supervisor.

This is in addition to posting your assignment for that specific meeting on Blackboard – these are two separate pieces.

In regards to the reflection – it should be thoughtful and express discoveries, achievements, challenges, frustrations, etc. that you have encountered in the Internship this far.

To that end, it should be more than just a couple of sentences. Average length for each reflection should range from 1-2 paragraphs, with each paragraph consisting of at least 5 sentences.

As meeting attendance is mandatory, reflections provide a venue for you to share with us what you otherwise would have shared if you were in class that evening.

Reflections for missed meetings are due NO later than 5pm on the day after the missed meeting. No credit will be given for reflections posted after 5pm on these specified dates.