INTERNSHIP AND PRACTICAL ASSIGNMENT
Alternative terms: plan of action, internship assessment, practical assessment, product assessment for internship contract, internship report
What is it?
It is about working and learning in a professional setting. It is an assignment/set of tasks that:
- You will carry out for an institution or company.
- Is compatible with your degree programme and future profession.
- Requires you to make you actions very clear so that others can understand why you took the course of action you did.
- The result is a final report and sometimes also an end product.
Part-time students and dual students are often already in paid or unpaid employment during the academic semester/year.
The internship and practical assignments give you the opportunity to demonstrate the competencies you have developed in an authentic professional environment. You will also work on further developing your competencies during the internship/practical period. For both internships and practical assignments, you are set fixed assignments. The objective of these is to encourage learning in the workplace and to apply focus in order to facilitate competency development.
By conducting a practical assignment/internship:
- You gain in-depth insight into what a professional environment looks like in practice.
- You discover the new opportunities that the workplace has to offer
- You discover where your strength, motivation and enthusiasm lie.
- You develop a working style.
- You establish relevant contacts with colleagues and other relevant people or groups
Furthermore, you will experience for yourself the degree to which:
- You can concentrate on an assignment in a professional setting.
- Can handle time pressure/heavy workloads.
- Can learn while working and work while learning.
Certain skills can only be learned in practice, such as:
- Interacting with co-workers.
- Applying knowledge and skills in everyday professional practice.
- Learning by doing.
- Working with 'real' deadlines.
Internships and practical assignments can be classified as follows:
- Exploratory assignment – you visit an institution or are shadowed by a professional practitioner. The objective is to get a picture of a particular profession, professional situation or working method.
- Internship or practical assignment – you work for or are an intern at a business or institution. There, you carry out a number of targeted assignments and learn all implicit and explicit aspects of the job.
- Assignment for an external client – you conduct this type of assignment in the workplace or within the programme. If the latter is the case, then programme lecturers will play the role of the workplace supervisor. See also the Project Assignment and Thesis Assignment sections
- Learning practice – a sample of the professional field is set up within an institute.
Common assignment structures for full-time programmes are as follows:
- Propaedeutic year – exploratory assignments.
- Main phase – typical specialist assignments.
- Graduation phase – externally sourced assignments.
The level requirements are formulated depending on the phase of study.
As a general rule, the institution's internship office, practical office or business office is responsible for the matching procedures and for the availability and screening of the internships and practical placements. You can also use employment agencies, for example www.stage.plaza.nl.
You may be required to complete an assessment before being admitted to an internship/practical assignment. The internship/practical period may also be preceded by an application process. In such cases, it is important that you possess an up-to-date CV. Different arrangements apply to international internships and practical assignments. For further information, see Studying Abroad (AUAS website).
What is tested?
Testing formats used for internship and practical assignments:
- Initial report containing aspects such as educational objectives and an action plan.
- Interim evaluation including a progress report (amongst other items).
- Final report documenting the results achieved.
- Demonstration of particular professional activities combined with substantiation of the preparation and evaluation.
- Oral evaluations or performance reviews based on an agenda compiled in advance.
- A combination of the above. See also the Portfolio Assessment section.
In the handbook, a description is given of:
- Competencies that must be developed or play a central role during this period.
- • Assessment procedure/criteria for:
* Product and services.
* Method employed: preparation, execution and evaluation.
* Working in a professional environment: feedback from relevant third parties.
* Substantiation of learning aspects within a particular period.
* Compilation of Personal Development Plans (PDPs).
- Definition of various roles, tasks and responsibilities within the programme/professional field during the assessment.
- Resit examinations.
How will I be assessed?
The examiner prepares for the assessment by:
- Reading through the submitted work.
- Examining the assessment(s) of the workplace supervisor.
- Preparing an interview with the student and workplace supervisor.
- Reviewing the results with the student.
The internship/practical assignment can be concluded in a variety of ways. Your actions will be assessed within the context of a particular company/institution. You are expected to connect your experiences with theory learned and other knowledge in a way that enables you to demonstrate these actions in other contexts (new and more complex situations).
Depending on the educational objectives of the type of internship/practical assignment, you will be assessed regarding:
- The products and/or services provided.
- The manner in which the tasks were performed (goal-oriented, effective, efficient).
- Interaction with clients, supervisors and colleagues.
- Interaction with the customer, patient or user (individual, group, system).
Furthermore, the assessment may focus on:
- The manner in which educational objectives were achieved and evaluated within the framework of your development plan.
- For exploratory assignments: the ability to visualise the reality of professional practice and communicate about it.
- For professional assignments: the execution of professional activities within the preconditions applicable to the organisation/institution
What feedback will I receive?
Assessment by means of a mark accompanied by an extensive explanation of the mark during an interview. You will receive feedback from various parties and conduct a self-assessment.
Goal of the self-assessment:
- To assess your own performance during the internship/practical period.
- To evaluate the quality of the end product (if applicable).
- Optional: To describe your performance under supervision (supervision report).
Another important source of feedback is the workplace supervisor. He/she will examine
- How you function as both a temporary employee and colleague.
- The quality of the work/products you provided.
- Your attitude and mentality. The workplace supervisor's assessment may also include the opinions of colleagues with whom you worked.
You also receive feedback from the supervisor or internship supervisor. He/she relies upon the assessment level determined by the workplace supervisor and assesses:
- The quality of the end product (if applicable).
- The level of the reflection report.
- Your contribution under supervision (if applicable).
Finally, you also receive feedback from fellow supervisees or fellow students.
How do I prepare for this assignment?
- Ensure the content and procedures are clear to you.
- Study the handbook containing all conditions, assessment criteria etc.
- Ask for support during your preparation.
Most internships have to be applied for. The programme offers application training to prepare students for this. You can also find a great deal of application information on the Internet. For example, www.stageplaza.nl
- Gather information about the internship.
- Determine which learning points you particularly wish to work on during your internship
- Clarify exactly what the employer expects from you and whether this is compatible with the learning points
Drawing up a contract
Ensure that you draw up a contract that includes:
- The tasks/activities that you are going to perform.
- The competencies that you will work on.
- The assessment criteria.
- If possible, the approval of the workplace supervisor and the internship supervisor.
When searching for a suitable placement, it is important that you find one in which you will encounter a wide variety of critical professional skills, enabling you to demonstrate your ability to practise the profession. Instruments for assessing the suitability of placements include the placement scan and the task analysis form.
How can I achieve the highest score possible?
- Find a placement that suits you.
- Ensure you make your own wishes and expectations known.
- Read up on and immerse yourself in the institution/company.
- Show interest in your work and your colleagues' work.
- Be motivated and give 100%.
- Take the initiative and show what you can do. Make individual contributions.
- Bear in mind that no internship is fun all the time: there will always be assignments that you do not enjoy as much
- The guidance meetings with your workplace supervisor are an important part of your internship/practical assignment. It can occur that these meetings do not provide exactly what you were expecting: they can be put off, shortened or limited to superficial chat. Make sure you know exactly what you want to get out of these meetings. Know what you need in order to walk out of the door satisfied. Make concrete agreements about the time and location. If postponement is unavoidable, set an alternative date immediately.
- It is also frequently possible to complete internships abroad, especially for longer internships/practical assignments. This is good for expanding your horizons, immersing yourself in other cultures or improving your language skills. Click on 'Internships Abroad' (see left-hand column) and/or ask your programme.
- If you have to complete a self-assessment in your final report, be honest. Nobody's perfect. List your strengths and weaknesses and create a plan regarding how you will further develop these weak points in the future.