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Internships in Geography

As part of your Geography program, you are eligible to participate in an internship program. Usually an internship will be taken off campus. But, you must not only receive faculty authorization before you begin the internship but you will also maintain regular contact with a faculty advisor throughout the course of the internship.

Below you will find more information about what an internship is, where you can find internships, how you obtain faculty authorization, and how an internship can be applied to your program.

Why Do an Internship?

Internships are practical learning opportunities that allow you to gain credit for working (usually unpaid) with the government, private industry or non-governmental organizations. These opportunities should complement your coursework in Geography. Internships allow you to apply what you learn in the classroom to a variety of work environments. Also, in the context of an internship you can learn skills that are difficult to develop inside the classroom, from organizational skills to professional interpersonal communication.

Basic Requirements for an Internship

  • A well-defined internship project with a government agency, non-profit organization or business
  • A faculty advisor who approves the project and signs a written contract with the student
  • An on-site work supervisor

Internship Project

Internships are either initiated by the student or students respond to advertised internships. We disseminate advertised internships through the binder in the entrance to the main office and, when electronic notices are provided, send these announcements to the undergraduate geography email list. However, most students initiate their own internship by contacting agencies or organizations directly, based on their particular interests and expertise. Please see the the list of Internship Granting Agencies as a places to start thinking about what kind of internship you might create. Places that students have worked in the past include the Eugene City Planning Department, the National Forest Service, Lane County Soil Conservation District, Lane Council of Government and Watershed Councils in the region.

List of Internship Granting Agencies

Faculty Advisor and Internship Contract

Internships require a faculty advisor, which can be any faculty in the Geography Department. To clarify expectations and the number of credits awarded for the internship activities, the student intern must complete a contract to be signed by the faculty advisor at the beginning of the quarter. This contract includes a basic statement of the job description and goals of the internship; the number of credits awarded for the internship; whether the credits require a final paper or project (this is not a universal requirement); and the name and contact information for the on-site supervisor. Usually the contract requires that students keep a work diary or log that is submitted to the advisor for periodic review over the quarter. The contract specifies how many credits a student will receive for an agreed upon internship work schedule. Internships usually involve ten hours of work per week, students can receive up to 6 credits in one term for an internship. Typical internships range from 2-4 credits; 3-4 hours of internship work per week translates into 1 internship credit hour. Internships may be extended to a second term with prior approval.

Internship Contract

On-Site Work Supervisor

The on-site work supervisor is the person involved most closely with the student over the course of the internship. Students should clearly articulate the skills they are bringing to the agency, organization or business before the start of the internship, and they should openly discuss their goals for undertaking the internship with the on-site supervisor.

An end-of-term communication via email or letter from the on-site supervisor to the faculty advisor confirming successful completion of the terms of the internship is required.

Still have questions?

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions (below) or contact Professor Daniel Gavin (dgavin@uoregon.edu) or the Geography department internship coordinator: Jessie Clark (geogadvr@uoregon.edu) for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions About Internships

Q: How do I find out about internships?

A: Check the Geography office, 107 Condon Hall, or our website at  Department of Geography Internships a week prior to registration, at the latest. Most internships are arranged weeks or even months before term registration. Students need to contact faculty advisors and potential on-site work supervisors early to initiate an internship.

Q: How do I initiate an internship–just what do I do?

A: Students should prepare a one-page résumé of basic facts–name, address, phone–followed by dates of availability. Also needed is information about the type of internship desired–cartography, GIS, planning, hydrology–and information about classes or experiences that qualify the student for the desired internship. Students should take their résumé to a potential faculty advisor as early as possible—three or four months before the start of the internship is not too early!

Q: Where can internships be arranged?

A: Most Geography internships are in Eugene or Springfield, but students have initiated internships in Salem, Portland, and occasionally elsewhere. To arrange an internship, the student proposes an arrangement between a Geography faculty advisor and an on-site work supervisor.

Q: I got a good job last summer. Can I get internship credit for it?

A: No. Internships need to be pre-arranged with clearly planned geographic content and regular communication between the student and the faculty advisor during the course of the internship.

Q: What about “paid internships?”

A: Geography internships are unpaid educational experiences; however, faculty advisors are willing to discuss the educational content of some part-time jobs. For example, summer Forest Rangers have sometimes done projects beyond the scope of their jobs to receive internship credit, e.g. producing a nature trail brochure “after hours” based on pre-arrangement for the extra project. Interns may also be reimbursed for some expenses, such as mileage.

Q: How long are internships?

A: The University operates on the academic calendar. Internships run for one academic term, but they may be renewed for a second term if everyone is willing. A letter from the on-site work supervisor must be submitted to the faculty advisor at the end of each term before credit is awarded. No more than 8 credits can be earned for an internship with any one agency, and no more than 12 total credits may be earned through internships.

Q: How are credits arranged?

A: After the internship is arranged, the student intern registers with the faculty advisor for Geography 406—Field Studies credits, P/N basis. Total effort during a term is 100 hours for four credits–about 90 hours of effort “on the job” and about 10 hours to keep the internship work log and prepare end-of-term report. Most interns work two half-days per week.

Q: Initiating an internship seems like a lot of effort. Why should I bother?

A: Employers look for people with initiative and practical experience. An internship is a way to demonstrate initiative, gain valuable experience, and continue to learn by applying your “book knowledge” in a problem-solving work environment. It is also a way to earn a good letter of reference, and internships can occasionally turn into longer term positions.

Q: What other internship opportunities exist?

A: Other departments have internship programs, probably similar to the Geography program. If you are majoring or minoring in another department, ask your advisor or the department’s administrative assistant if internship opportunities exist through that department. There are also reputable nation-wide organizations that advertise internship opportunities.