Frequently Asked Questions

RHS Internships 101 

Common FAQ's:

  • How do I find information about possible internship sites?
    Information on over 300 internship sites RHS students have used within the past several years is available at https://ed.psu.edu/internships/index.cfm. If students want more in-depth information on a site they find in the database, they may make an appointment with their respective undergraduate advisers.
  • How long will it take me to finish my internship?
    Internships are full-time activities requiring approximately 40 hours of work a week for 15 weeks (600 hours). RHS students pursuing summer internships will follow the adjusted University schedule (520 hours).
  • Why do I have two advisors and how do I know who to go to about internship questions? Every RHS student has two advisors – an Academic Advisor (located in 228 Chambers Building) will work with to discuss your academic program to identify courses required for the major and possible minor, petition classes, etc. This person helps you with selecting classes and figuring out if they count towards RHS degree, transfer credits, etc. The Faculty Advisor (located in CEDAR Building) will work with you to help you with career concerns, preparing you for the world of work and assisting with the internship selection and application process. Therefore, any questions about your internship should be discussed with your RHS faculty advisor as indicated on your student academic audit available through Lionpath.  Your faculty advisor will help you to identify internship options and work with you through the internship process to ensure all paperwork is completed properly and by the required deadline.
  • Who is responsible for finding an internship? It is your responsibility to find your internship as well as making sure that all of the paperwork is completed and turned in on time.
  • How should I prepare before the initial meeting to discuss the internship with my faculty advisor?  Make sure you have read the RHS internship manual (link at end of this document) and come with a written list of questions prior to your meeting. Think about potential settings and client populations you may be interested in working with. If you want to get some idea of potential sites then visit the RHS Internship Database.
  • I am uncertain about how to prepare for the internship interview?  Penn State University has one of best academic centers in the country – use this resource! They provide on-going workshops on writing resumes and cover letters, how to prepare for the internship interview and post interview concerns. While any of their counselors at Career Services can provide help, you might want to specifically reach out to Cassie Rosas (; 814-865-2377) as she was a former master’s student in the rehabilitation counseling program and knows our programs very well.
  • When should I start looking for my internship? You should be thinking about your internship throughout your program and this is why you need to meet with your RHS academic advisor during your junior year. As a general guideline, however, you should start planning at least one year in advance.
  • Beyond finding an internship site, what else should I be thinking about when I start the internship process? Because every student’s situation is different, you should think about where will you live and whether at the end of the internship, you want to establish residence where you completed your internship. Some students, because of lease agreements, want to remain in State College and want to avoid the hassle of finding a new living place. While this is understandable, you should also think of the long-term implications as it may or may not be better for you to establish a new place of residence where you can build professional contacts that could lead to other employment opportunities.

You might also be wondering about whether the internship is paid. While most undergraduate internships are unpaid, there are some that offer payment. This aspect should be discussed during your interview when you visit the site. Although getting paid is an important consideration, remember that this is the first step in your professional career and, as such, you should carefully about what you want to gain from this experience and how it may help you professionally.

  • When should I start preparing or visiting possible internship sites?
    Student should begin looking at internship sites two semesters prior to beginning internship, and they should conduct on-site visits to potential internship sites at least one semester before they anticipate beginning internship.
  • What process could I use as I begin to identify an internship? We recommend that students visit a MINIMUM OF 3 SITES. It is always good to have options and even though you might go to one site and think, “This is the one I want.” You owe it to yourself to look at options. The RHS Internship Database contains sites where you can learn more about the work done at each facility. Be sure to review this information before contacting them. You will see that we have an identified contact person who you could reach out to. Should you contact this person and find that he/she is no longer working there then ask who is the person who replaced this individual. Also, let us know if there is a change so we can update our Database (contact  - 863-3641). If there is no person listed or you do not know who to call then ask to speak with the human resource department and ask for the person who handles internships for that organization.
  • Can I complete an internship at my current place of employment?
    Although students are permitted to intern where they are currently working, in general, this practice is not encouraged. The expectations for an intern versus an employee are quite different. When these roles are mixed, it can sometimes lead to problems in supervision (e.g., frequency, intensity, focus) and, as a result, can negatively affect the internship.
  • Can I complete my internship outside of Pennsylvania?
    Yes. Depending on circumstances and learning goals, students are encouraged to find the best site for them in terms of location and services provided.
  • Should I call or email the employer when I want to set up an interview appointment? After identifying the appropriate contact person, you should contact them by phone. This approach is more personal and gives you the opportunity to speak directly with someone right from the beginning, instead of waiting for an email response (and many employers may not respond to email without talking with you first). If you don't reach someone by phone and you leave a message, then follow up with an email. Remember that employers are very busy and receive many calls and requests. Be patient but, at the same time, you need to be persistent as well.
  • What should I do in preparing for the initial phone call in trying to set up an appointment for an on-site interview? First, as noted earlier, research the employer by looking at the website so you have a clear idea of their mission, services provided and clientele served. You should also anticipate some initial questions an employer might raise such as: Why do you want to intern here (what do you want to learn)? When would the internship start? How many hours are required for the internship? What are the requirements for the internship? Do you need to be supervised? What paperwork is involved? When do you need to know by? Is there any extra work is required on our end? All of the answers to these questions can be found in the Internship Manual and this is why you should READ THE ENTIRE MANUAL BEFORE CALLING AN EMPLOYER.
  • I've visited three sites and narrowed it down to the one I want – now what? First, be sure to follow-up with the other sites that you are not going to pursue and thank them for their time in speaking with you but you are notifying them that you have selected another site. You could do this either through email or a telephone call. Be sure to be courteous as your interactions could influence other RHS students who may want to pursue the site(s) that you elected not to pursue. Second, follow up with your chosen site contact person and confirm that you want to accept the internship offer.
  • After I have selected an internship site do I need to contact the other sites where I interviewed, even if I am not doing my internship there?
    Selecting an internship is a professional activity and students should remember they represent not just themselves but also the RHS program and Penn State. Students must reach closure with every site contacted. A call, letter, or email thanking the person and providing information about the student's internship plans is consistent with good professional behavior.
  • Will my internship site provide me with housing?
    Interns are responsible for making their own living arrangements. A few sites provide room and/or board, but this is not common.
  • When is all the required paperwork due?  The dates are as follows: Fall Semester internship: Due July 1; Spring Semester internship: Due November 1; Summer Semester internship: Due April 1. If any of these dates fall on a Saturday or Sunday then the due date would be the next Monday.

If you wish to keep track of your internship selection process, the tracker below may be of value:

Internship Tracker

 

Employer Name

Website

Contact Person

Contact Email

Contact Phone

Date Contacted

Results (ex: left message, discussed internship opportunities, etc.)

Follow up needed (ex: date to follow up, check in on internship decision, etc.)

Other Comments:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  • Do I need to provide the Internship Coordinator with a copy of my child abuse and criminal background clearance forms or proof of malpractice insurance?
    No; however, if the site requires clearances, students must provide proof to them before starting internship. It is recommended that students make copies of all clearances to keep for themselves in case any of the documents get lost. Students should also retain the original documentation and make copies for the site as needed. This recommendation is made because after completion of the internship, in the event these clearances are needed for subsequent employment, future employers working in similar settings or with similar client populations typically need original documentation.
  • After I submit the Internship Application can I register for this course?
    No. After reviewing the Internship Application the RHS PIC will take responsibility for registering students for internship (RHS 495A).
  • How do I know if my internship has been approved?
    Students will receive confirmation via the email letter that is sent to the Site Supervisor. This letter reviews the starting and ending date of the internship and other introductory information the Site Supervisor may find helpful. Typically, these emails are sent approximately two weeks after the internship application deadline of November 1st (for a spring internship), April 1st (for a summer internship) and July 1st (for a fall internship). As a general practice, it is always good to contact the Site Supervisor at least two weeks prior to the starting date reminding him or her of the internship start date. This practice averts the problem of the Site Supervisor forgetting when the student will be arriving.
  • Can I complete other courses while I am pursuing internship?
    Students should have completed all coursework prior to internship. Under very unusual circumstances students may be permitted to complete one course. This exception must be approved by the student's academic adviser and the RHS PC. Under no circumstances will students be allowed to complete more than one course.
  • When are the starting and ending dates for internship?
    The starting and ending internship dates follow the same academic schedule as the beginning and ending semester dates as indicated in the Penn State Academic Calendar (see http://www.registrar.psu.edu/academic_calendar/calendar_index.cfm). However, because the summer session is shorter than the fall and spring semester, in order to be consistent within the established University schedule, the start date for summer internship occurs on the first day of the Maymester and ends on the last day of the 2nd, six week session. This will allow students to accrue 520 hours during the summer session. Students should plan accordingly.
  • Can I start earlier or finish later than the dates that we are suppose to begin or end the internship?
    Unless you make prior arrangements with the Internship Coordinator and the on-site supervisor and there is a compelling reason why you need to start earlier/later than the starting/ending date, all students are expected to start and finish on the same days the semester begins and ends. In some situations, should a student miss an inordinate amount of days because of illness or other personal reasons, they may be asked to continue beyond the original ending date. This decision is made on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by the Internship Coordinator.
  • If I cannot finish my hours within the semester in which I am registered for internship, can I complete them during the break between semesters?
    All internship assignments must be completed by the last day of classes during the semester of the internship. If there are unusual circumstances that interfere with the expected completion date then students must discuss this situation with the Internship Coordinator.
  • Do I get a Fall/Spring Break and get off for legal holidays when I am on my internship?
    The decision to take a Fall/Spring Break is between the student intern and the Site Supervisor. In some cases, Site Supervisors believe granting a semester break is disruptive to client care. In other cases, taking a break is allowed. The Internship Coordinator will support the decision made between the student intern and the Site Supervisor. As far as legal holidays (Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day), you are allowed to take these days as well. Depending on your internship site, you may be eligible to take off for religious holidays. You should discuss this concern with your on-site supervisor for prior approval.
  • Will the Internship Coordinator provide supervision of my internship work?
    No. The role of the Internship Coordinator is to make sure that all of the necessary paperwork and contractual agreements are in place prior to the start of the internship. The Internship Coordinator also monitors each student’s progress, and should problems arise, addresses them with the student and Site Supervisor. It is the responsibility of the Site Supervisor to provide direct supervision as it relates to specific internship duties.
  • Will the Internship Coordinator visit me at my internship site?
    In general, the coordinator cannot visit students on-site. Most students complete internships throughout Pennsylvania and in other states, and given the number of students registered each semester it is not possible for site visits to take place. For this reason, it is critical that students complete and upload weekly internship logs to the Internship ANGEL course pages.
  • What if I am having problems with my on-site supervision?
    Students should contact the Internship Coordinator immediately if problems arise.
  • Can I change internships after I have already started one?
    Depending on circumstances it is possible (although highly unusual) to change sites. If students are experiencing problems and are seriously contemplating changing internship sites, they must discuss it with the Internship Coordinator prior to making any final decisions.
  • What should I write about in my weekly internship logs?
    Students should describe the intern activities they are involved with and how these activities impact them professionally (see examples in the Internship Manual). Often, internship provides experiences that affect students' learning. Describing these experiences as well as what students have learned or gained during on-site supervision should be included. Since these logs are forwarded only to the Internship Coordinator directly, it is important that students provide candid remarks. The logs do not need to be shared with the Site Supervisor. Examples of appropriately worded logs are contained in the Internship Manual.
  • When should I forward my weekly internship logs?
    At the end of each week students must upload the weekly internship logs to the ANGEL course pages. Logs must be uploaded by midnight on Monday following the week the internship log discusses. Logs that are submitted late could result in a lowered course grade.
  • What if I cannot attend my internship because of weather, illness, family issue, etc.?
    Students are responsible for accruing the set amount of internship hours during the semester (600 hours in fall/spring; 520 hours in summer). If students miss a day because of illness or other legitimate reason this is not problematic as things happen beyond our control. If, however, there is a student is missing more than 1 day over a consecutive 10-day period, this behavior would be inconsistent with meeting professional expectations and, in this instance, the student should communicate with the Site Supervisor and Internship Coordinator to determine whether there is a need to make up hours. Typically, if the Site Supervisor does not have a problem and it is one that is not occurring, the Internship Supervisor will support the decision. If time has to be made up, one option would be to complete additional reading or research outside of a normal internship day to make up hours or the ending date of the internship can be delayed. Doing so, though, may have negative consequences for a student’s expected graduation date.
  • When should I forward my final written internship critique?
    The final critique must be uploaded to the ANGEL course page by midnight on the last day of the last week of classes (not exam week).
  • Can I take internship pass/fail?
    Internships may not be taken pass-fail. If a student intends to drop/add, it must be completed during
  • Who assigns the final grade for internship?
    The Internship Coordinator assigns the final grade.