As part of the Technical Communication Certificate, students complete an internship that includes a focused communication component. The goal of this requirement is to give TCC students real-life, on-the-job experience applying the skills they learn through their coursework; projects may include writing different kinds of documents, editing, creating electronic media, developing web sites, preparing and giving presentations, or creating training materials. The internship should be a valuable experience for the student and a useful contribution to the sponsor’s work as well.
Choosing an Internship
Most TCC students in the College of Engineering combine the internship requirement with the industry co-op or internship they complete for their major. Many students choose this option for its efficiency, as it allows them to use the same internship to satisfy both their major and TCC requirements. We strongly encourage students to find a technical internship on their own within their field through ECS or other career resources; we can occasionally help students locate possible internships, but we cannot guarantee we will be able to match students with positions. TCC students who are not enrolled in the College of Engineering typically complete internships with community organizations or through on-campus positions, though certainly industry internships are possible as well.
The co-op/internship must have a significant communication component, though the internship itself does not need to focus exclusively on communication tasks. Once students have lined up a technical internship, therefore, they should be in contact with their supervisor to determine whether he or she is willing to provide opportunities for the TCC student to apply their skills in communicating meaningfully about their work. The supervisor must also be willing to evaluate and document students’ performance after the internship has been completed/prior to their participation in EPD 398. Students should take care to make these arrangements before they accept an internship position, as the supervisor’s agreement is critical.
Enrolling in EPD 398
EPD 398, the one-credit Technical Communication Internship course, accompanies this work experience. In EPD 398, students lead discussions on topics related to their professional experience, including workplace interactions, challenges related to technical communication (as a process and as a product), and professional development. Outside of class, students continue these discussions through online forums and conferences; they also complete a professional portfolio that documents their experience and credentials. Most students will register for EPD 398 the semester after they have completed their internship so their experiences are fresh in their mind.
Enrollment in EPD 398 is restricted to students who have already been accepted to the TCC program, have taken EPD 397, Technical Communication, and have completed at least 6 credits in other approved communication electives. Students with significant professional experience and at least 2 credits within the Technical Communication Program may sometimes be allowed to take EPD 398, though this is entirely at the discretion of the instructor. The EPD 398 instructor must also approve each internship before it can satisfy the TCC requirement; students will not be allowed to retroactively apply an earlier internship to the requirement.
The Internships Checklist will assist you in planning your internship and registering for EPD 398.
Sponsoring an Internship
Our TCC students benefit greatly from the willingness of our community and industry partners to sponsor internships, and our partners benefit from the efforts of a dedicated UW-Madison student with training and interests in technical communication. Companies or organizations interested in sponsoring a TCC intern should contact the EPD 398 instructor, who will discuss the position(s) available and help shape the communication responsibilities. We will do our best to match TCC students with available positions.
The majority of TCC internships are paid positions, and the Internship Sponsor and TCC student must negotiate wages and hours. Occasionally a TCC student will take on an unpaid or volunteer internship; in these situations, we expect students to complete a minimum of 80 hours of work during the semester.
As part of EPD 398, students complete a portfolio that describes their internship. We understand that some positions will require students to sign non-disclosure agreements, and the TCC will respect confidentiality as needed. A general summary may substitute for a more detailed discussion of the student’s duties when appropriate.
Forms for students:
Internship Application Complete this form before you begin your TCC internship.
Learning Agreement This form sets forth the expectations for the internship. It must be signed by the student, sponsor, and internship coordinator before you enroll in EPD 398.
Program Evaluation Use this form to evaluate your work and experience at the end of your internship.
Forms for sponsors:
Evaluation of Student Use this form to evaluate the student’s work at the end of the internship.