Agricultural Communications

College of ACES & College of Media

Internship Provider Information

What is considered an “agricultural communications" internship?

The internship must provide students experience in communications, such as public relations, corporate communications, marketing, advertising, journalism/reporting, broadcasting, or sales. The context of communications  or the intern provider must be considered related to agriculture, broadly defined (farming/farmers, horticulture, food, feed, fiber, environment/natural resources, animals, alternative/bio energy, rural affairs, nutrition, ag or natural resources policy/economics, or life sciences). If you’re still wondering whether your internship opportunity fits into this category, please contact Jessica Leach, jrleach@illinois.edu.

For general agricultural or scientific internships outside of the communications context, contact Jean Drasgow, jdrasgow@illinois.edu.

What makes Agricultural Communications students different from general College of Media (Advertising or Journalism) students?

Our students have background, experience, passion, and/or foundational education in agriculture to supplement their education and experience in mass communication. Agricultural Communications is a communications degree with a special emphasis on various agricultural topics –which, beyond farming and rural affairs, includes food, nutrition, the environment, animals, ag and natural resources policy and economics, and bio- and alternative energy.

Their degrees are distinguished as follows:

  1. Similar communications coursework as general advertising, journalism or mass communications students do in our College of Media
  2. Special agricultural communications coursework that combines various methods of communications with the nuances of agricultural topics and audiences/stakeholders
  3. At least 18 credit hours in food and environmental systems classes from our prestigious College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (some students have additional minors is specific subjects in agriculture as well)

Our students may have grown up in agriculture through high school experiences or as part of a farm family, and/or they may have acquired a passion and knowledge through their education at the university. It is likely these students have obtained other work, internship, or class experiences that have combined agriculture and communications.

Even though their education and interests tend to be specifically applied to agricultural areas, this does not mean they are ONLY interested in such opportunities. Some of our students and graduates seek and obtain opportunities in broader or other topic areas within mass communication.

What should intern providers include in their announcement/posting?

While we don’t require all of the following information, it takes care of most common questions from

1) information about your business or organization,

2) duties/responsibilities,

3) qualifications (skills, traits, number of semesters remaining until graduation or year in school limits),

4) what will they gain from the experience,

5) time commitment,

6) location(s) of internship (or if working remotely is possible), travel required, housing provided by intern employer (if available or student’s responsibility)

7) application materials desired,

8) contact information for questions and/or sending application materials, and

9) compensation and/or course credit.

How do intern providers post internship opportunities?

Send Jessica Leach, jrleach@illinois.edu, a link if you have an online company form, and/or a PDF or Word document attachment with the information as listed above and any additional information believed helpful for announcing it. Also include a link to the company’s general website, if available.

When should I announce internship opportunities?

We recommend, but do not require the following:

Spring semester (January—May) internships: September through early October

Summer semester (May—August) internships: February through early March

Fall semester (August—December or January): Early March

What time periods are ideal for interns?

Time periods for internships are determined by the provider, but for guidelines it is helpful to know our academic calendar as it dictates students’ availability. The following are approximations and may change based on the University of Illinois’ academic calendar:

Fall semester: Last week of August through 2nd week of December or through 1st or 2nd week of January, which includes the students’ winter break

Spring semester: 2nd or 3rd week of January through 1st or 2nd week of May

Summer: 3rd week of May through 2nd week of August

Are students able to work on-location for an internship that is far from campus?

During the summer, the large majority of students are able to work on-location and eagerly seek such opportunities. For the fall or spring semesters, however, it depends on the student. We can help identify students who are ahead in their degree program enough to take a reduced credit load through their internship credit hours and/or online courses, particularly if commuting to the internship location from campus would not be feasible or their internship schedule would not accommodate their class schedule. If a student wants to do a fall or spring internship, it is likely they will need to be a bit ahead in their degree program, able to accommodate an internship with their course schedule, willing to take summer courses to make up credits, or willing to stay an extra semester. There are a variety of ways we can work with students to make fall and spring internships on-site possible.

Are students allowed to complete an internship through working remotely?

Yes!

Does the University of Illinois accept insurance liability and workers’ compensation for the student while at their internship?

No, the internship provider is responsible for insurance liability and workers’ compensation.

Are credit hours sufficient compensation/incentive for interns?

This depends on the student’s interests and the total internship experience the provider is able to offer. Here is some additional insight that may help: The large majority of the internship opportunities that seek University of Illinois Agricultural Communications students are paid. That does not mean an internship provider is required to compensate with pay or financial stipend, however, it may not be as desirable compared to other opportunities our students are presented with unless the opportunity has other relative advantages/incentives for the intern.

Do students have to obtain/receive credit hours for participating in an internship?

No, the students decide and pursue university course credit only if they desire it. It is the students' responsibility to notify their faculty/staff advisor at least 3 to 4 weeks in advance of starting an internship if they would like to pursue AGCM credit hours.

How many credit hours do students earn for an internship? How many hours in a week should our interns work to satisfy university credit hours?

1 credit hour per semester per internship. Internships must be at least 10 hours of work per week.

How does the intern provider validate and/or evaluate the intern’s experience?

This only applies if the students are seeking university credit hours for their internship.

At least 2 to 4 weeks prior to the start of the internship, the student will provide their internship supervisor a form to sign off on that the student should complete based on their conversations with the provider. It includes contact information for the supervisor, the intern’s work description, and time period/hours anticipated for the duration of the internship. The student then returns this form to their faculty or staff intern advisor.

During the intern’s experience, the provider should regularly provide feedback directly to the student, as we hope would be a normal part of any internship and not just for our students.

During the internship, the student will journal at an interval time period dictated by their faculty/staff advisor reflecting on what they have done, what they are learning about the company, the field, and their interests/career goals, how they are applying what they have learned in college, and what they think they need or want to learn more about in college before graduating. This journal is private between the student and their faculty/staff advisor by default unless the student chooses to share it with their internship provider. At the end of the internship, the student will provide their faculty/staff advisor a portfolio of their work. None of this information from the student is published, shared, sold, or otherwise used or acted upon by the student and/or faculty/staff advisor that would divulge proprietary or sensitive information about the internship provider or its clients.

At the end of the internship experience, the provider may be asked to complete an evaluation form about the intern's work and work ethic, and we always welcome suggestions for improving future internship experiences for all parties.

I have other questions, who do I contact?

Jessica Leach, Director of Media Career Services
jrleach@illinois.edu