- What is fieldwork, practicum and internship?
Fieldwork is work that takes place outside the classroom to gain practical knowledge and skill that will enhance your learning experience. A practicum and internship is a supervised work experience with a hospitality or tourism organization. The practicum is typically similar to the work that an entry level employee would expect to do and is meant to give the student a work experience in an area in which the student wishes to have a career. It is used as an introduction to the industry. The internship is taken once all coursework has been completed. It will be a managerial position, rotational position (must rotate through at least three departments), or a formalized internship.
- Why do I need a practicum and internship?
One of the unique aspects of the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management at the University of South Carolina, and one of the true strengths of the program according to industry professionals, is the requirement for the practicum and internship. The first internship, called the practicum, affords the student the opportunity to "test out” a position in a hospitality or tourism industry in which they have an interest. It is our belief that the practicum will allow the student to direct their HRTM professional electives, most of which are scheduled after the practicum, in an area they decide to focus on based on their experience. If the student decides the field they chose for their practicum is not for them they still have time to adjust to another area in the hospitality and tourism industry. It is hoped that the final internship can be the student's entry into the work force and lead to a full-time position in the hospitality or tourism industry.
- Will I take other classes during my fieldwork?
We want the students to dedicate their time to the practicum and internship. Students may be allowed to take 1 other course each summer term in addition to the internship. Although not recommended, students can take a Maymester course, Summer 1 course, and Summer 2 course while enrolled in their internship. If the student is enrolled in the practicum or internship in the Fall or Spring semester, they may be allowed to take up to 3 other classes (9hours) in addition to the practicum or internship (6 hours) for a maximum total of 15 hours.
- Is there a cost associated with the internships?
Yes. As the practicum and internship are both six hours of credit, tuition must be paid to take each one. Along with tuition you will also be expected to pay your room and board just as you would during a regular semester of classes. Some internship sites will help students with housing, but most do not.
- Why do I have to pay to go work for someone?
There are many reasons but foremost among them is the access you get to the faculty member responsible for overseeing your internship. The instructor will read and grade each individual assignment as well as communicate with the host site supervisors to help ensure the quality of the experience. You will have much greater access to your instructor during the period of your internship. This kind of individual attention does not always happen in the classroom. A second reason is companies today cannot afford to pay interns so they want to make sure the intern is receiving class credit for their work. Many companies require their interns be enrolled in an internship course. The only way to make this happen is by paying tuition.
- Will I get paid for my internship?
It depends! Internships are highly competitive. While there are some internships that pay a stipend or cover some of your living expenses, some may not pay anything. Today's difficult economic times make it even tougher to find paid internships as many organizations have done away with paid programs. However, there are some companies who have budgeted for an internship program! You should not base your decision on an internship located solely on wage.
- How can I reduce my costs?
Start early in your planning process for your internship or practicum. One great idea is to make a list of family and friends you may be able to live with during the internship. This will give you a larger pool of locations to choose from. Planning ahead will also allow you to get your financial aid in order. There are restrictions to what aid can be used when. You should educate yourself on these restrictions. Thoroughly research the locations you select to accurately gauge the costs associated with living in that location. Consider travel costs, both to your location and the cost to commute to work.
- How do I find an internship?
The first step is to make sure you are on the department's email list. Many opportunities are received this way. You should also use your professors as contacts for potential internships. The most important thing you can do is put a great deal of time, thought and research in to potential opportunities in the hospitality and tourism industry starting with your introductory courses. Variables such as time of year, location, the type of organization and pay (or lack thereof) need to be considered carefully. The practicum and internship are not just another class but an opportunity for you to set yourself apart from the thousands of other graduates all competing for the limited number of jobs. Once you decide on your path the department has many assets in place to help you find the opportunity that is right for you. A word of caution though: You will only get out what you put into it. If you don't take the selection of your opportunities seriously, it is doubtful that it will be a meaningful experience or that you will gain the experience necessary to compete for a position in the hospitality or tourism industry.
- When should I start looking for an internship?
Right now! While this is a bit of an exaggeration, it is never too soon to begin thinking about what you want to do and identify possible organizations you may want to work for. You should be on the department's email list on which many opportunities are presented. Even if you are a year or more away from one of your internships, these opportunities should be scrutinized to see what is available. Many organizations have recurring internships and what is available now is very likely to be available next year as well. You should begin your search in earnest (sending resumes etc.) six to nine months prior to your intended internship semester if you are serious about getting the internship you want.
- How do I find out about the academic requirements for the practicum or internship?
Practicum and internship information briefings are held each semester at various times. You are REQUIRED to attend one of these briefings. Notices will be placed in the Carolina Coliseum and e-mail notification will be sent to all students who have signed up to receive departmental e-mails.
How do the requirements change with regards to practicums and internships for international students?
International students may be required to complete additional paperwork regarding their work status and will need to discuss their status with their internship coordinator. Students should also clear the plan with the office of International Student Services.