Fully preparing for your internship in advance and taking time to reflect on your internship at its conclusion can maximize the impact of the experience on your life and career. We encourage you to make time for these important “before and after” activities:
Preparation: Whether you are pursuing your internship through the CLS or on your own, be sure to review the Student Internship Orientation Handbook and the CLS Internship Orientation PowerPoint to learn how to make the most of your internship experience. If you have additional questions about your upcoming internship, contact a CLS counselor. We are here to help you gain the best experience possible through your internship.
Reflection: Reflecting on your internship after its completion is a great opportunity for you to process what you have learned and determine what is next in your academic and professional direction. Traditional reflection strategies include journaling, writing an essay, or presenting information about the experience. You can be creative, too, by reflecting in whatever way works for you. Below are some options for you to consider. Additionally, CLS counselors are available to meet with you to discuss your experience and help you process your next steps academically, professionally, and/or personally.
Reflection Activity Suggestions
• Journals: As you reflect upon your experience, think about how you felt – excited, troubled, impressed, or unnerved. When writing, it’s good to keep in mind that when making entries in journals or learning logs, self-evaluations should be filled with snapshots of sights, sounds, smells, concerns, insights, doubts, fears, and critical questions about issues, people, and most important, the individual who is writing (you!). A journal is not a work log of tasks, events, times, and dates. Write freely. If time prevents writing a full entry, jot down random thoughts, images, or ideas. Honesty is the most important ingredient.
• Highlighted journal: Using a blog or personal journal, reread your entries that directly relate to the academic concepts focused on and reflect on any potential change or confirmation in direction. This makes it easier for you to identify how the experience linked to your career journey.
• Critical incident journal: This type of journal focuses on analysis of a particular event that occurred during the experience. After you consider your thoughts and reactions, articulate the action you plan to take in the future. A set of questions that could be asked are: Why was this significant? What underlying issues surfaced as a result of the experience? How will this incident influence future behaviors? Another set of prompts that can be used are: Describe the incident or situation that created a dilemma for you in terms of what to say or do. What is the first thing you thought of to say or do? List three other actions you might have taken. Which of the above seems best to you now and why do you think this is the best response?
• Newspaper, magazine or other published articles: Consider sharing thoughts about your experience through articles written for published media, whether in print or online.
• One-on-one discussions: Meet with a mentor, professor, or advisor to reflect upon the experience together. It’s important to listen as well as share. In preparing for the discussions, reflect ahead of time and prepare focus areas to discuss or questions to ask.
Multimedia and Performing Arts
• Express yourself: This reflection exercise takes a long time in preparation. Create your own version of your feelings towards your experience. Examples could include poetry, visual arts (paintings, drawings and sculptures), music, individually created games or puzzles, or any form of creative outlet that gives you the chance to perform or explain in front of your peers.
• Photo, slide show, or scrapbook: Reflect upon your experience through putting together photos and arranging them in an exhibit or slide show. The photos can be narrated or labeled with key phrases or reflections that represent the experience. Photos are a great way to document and reflect upon before and after projects that involve “make over” aspects.
• Painting, drawing, or collages: Art can be developed based on experience reflection. Develop a piece of art that represents your feelings regarding your experience.
• Dance, music, theater, or video presentations: Use your creative abilities to put together music, dance, video, or theatrical presentation. The theatrical performance can include a play, puppet show, video documentary, or any form of presentation.
Other Reflection Activities
• Item Inspiration: Find one or two items that remind you of how you feel about your experience. During the reflection, explain how your items relate to your experience.
• Portfolio: Student portfolios can contain any of the following: experience contract, weekly blog, personal journal, impact statements, writings, photo essay, etc. Any products such as agency brochures, lesson plans, advocacy letters, etc. can be included in a portfolio. A written evaluation essay providing a self-assessment of how effectively you met the learning objectives is suggested. This type of documentation has become a vital way of keeping records and learning organizational skills.
Reflection Levels and Questions to Ask Yourself
Next Steps to Consider
• Update your résumé ASAP while your mind is still fresh.
• Identify a few instances that would be appropriate to use as examples in future internship/job interviews and practice utilizing the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result).
• Ask yourself the following:
o What were your goals before you started your experience?
o Were you able to accomplish your goals? Why or why not?
o Which new ones were formed and answered?
o What impacted you most about your experience?
o How are you different as a result of your experience – professionally and personally?
o What resources do you want to take advantage of to assist you in your next steps?
o How do you want to be a resource to others?
The Mirror: A Clear Reflection of Self
• Who am I?
• What are my values?
• What have I learned about myself through this experience?
• Do I have more or less understanding or empathy than I did before this project?
• Have my sense of self, values, sense of community, willingness to serve others, or self-confidence been altered through this process?
• Have my motivations for volunteering changed? In what ways?
• How has this experience challenged stereotypes or prejudices I have/had?
• Are there any realizations, insights, or lessons learned or half-glimpsed?
• Will this experience change the way I act or think in the future?
• Have I given enough, opened up enough, cared enough?
• How have I challenged myself, my ideals, my philosophies, my concept of life or of the way I live?
The Microscope: Make the Small Experience Large
• What happened? Describe your experience.
• What would you change about this situation if you were in charge?
• What have you learned about community organizations, individuals, or community?
• Was there a moment of failure, success, doubt, humor, frustration, happiness, or sadness?
• Do you feel your actions had any impact?
• What more needs to be done?
• Does this experience complement or contrast with what you’re learning? How?
• Has learning through experience taught you more than, less than or the same as other experiences? In what ways?
The Binoculars: Makes the Distant Appear Closer
• From your experiences, are you able to identify any underlying or overarching issues that influence the problem?
• What could be done to change the situation?
• How will this alter your future behaviors, attitudes, or career?
• How is the issue or agency you’re serving affected by what is going on in the larger political or social sphere?
• What does the future hold?
• What can be done?