Master of Professional Science
The purpose of the internship is to provide students with the opportunity to employ the skills and theoretical knowledge they attain while in residence at RSMAS in a real world setting. Although most of the MPS coursework involves practical training, the internship is the culmination of that training and the forum within which students are able to fully apply their knowledge in a meaningful way. Our students engage in internships with national or international agencies, private corporations, NGOs, and foreign governments, with clearly defined marine and/or atmospheric-oriented programs or activities.
Due to the extensive amount of knowledge and diverse skill-base imparted to our students during their time in residence, MPS Candidates are a valuable resource to hosting organizations. Thus, the relationship between our students and these organizations is mutually beneficial and often instrumental in the management and conservation efforts of the involved agencies. In addition, these positions allow students to further develop the skills they possess, as well as acquire new skills, in conjunction with the refined ability to impart information and implement tasks in their field of interest.
Academic Credit Requirements
The internship may be completed for academic credit provided the student is engaged in a variety of high-level tasks and contributes to the hosting organization in a meaningful, professional way. Thus, in order to achieve credit for an internship, students must be involved in activities such as task analysis, program planning, program implementation, the development of management plans, attendance at meetings or training sessions, evaluating operations, data management and analysis, quantitative analyses, and providing recommendations for future efforts and plans. Students are expected to work independently, or with minimal supervision, during a substantial portion of the internship.
Structure of the Internship
Internships typically involve a 3-6 month commitment to the hosting organization. These organizations should interview internship candidates approximately one month prior to the proposed start date. Students are expected to contribute a minimum of 20-hours a week, but full-time involvement is strongly encouraged. Specific schedules are determined by mutual agreement between the student and the internship supervisor.
A salary, or stipend, for the intern is not mandatory but strongly encouraged. Considering the time commitment involved in a typical MPS internship, unpaid positions create a financial hardship for our students. If paid, interns should receive a stipend equal to, or above, standard student wages. Interns are not expected to receive benefits.
Prior to starting the internship, students are expected to meet with their internship supervisors to outline the expectations of the hosting organization. This should include information about specific tasks to be performed, expected entry level skills, normal scheduled hours, the supervisor’s name and position, and the location of the internship. These expectations may be revised to meet the skills and professional goals of the students, as well as the needs of the hosting organization, but specific tasks must be agreed upon before an intern is placed.
The internship is intended to provide for the practical application of skills and also facilitate an opportunity for students to come as close as possible to mid- to entry-level experiences for positions similar to those held by supervisors. The internship should involve a wide variety of tasks, problems, opportunities, observations, and challenges. It should never be a clerical or quotidian experience.
All M.P.S. students will receive guidance and support during their time in residence from a graduate committee of at least 3 members. This committee includes an academic advisor, a faculty mentor, and at least one “outside” member. Students will be assigned an academic advisor during their first semester in residence. The advisor must hold an appointment in the department representing each student’s degree program. This individual will offer guidance regarding University expectations, coursework, registration, program details, and graduation requirements. At the beginning of the first semester, the student and the academic advisor will establish the curriculum to be followed, based on the student’s personal and professional goals and the M.P.S. degree program/track requirements. Each student will also identify and request the involvement of a faculty mentor, who will act as a resource to the student regarding career guidance, the selection of an appropriate internship, and the development and synthesis of an internship project. The faculty mentor should be someone whose research and work interests the student, and their role as a mentor should be confirmed no later than the end of the first semester. Though RSMAS faculty members are preferred to take on the role as mentors, individuals from approved agencies, institutions, or businesses may also fulfill this role.
The graduate committee is responsible for guiding students, both academically and professionally, as well as assisting with the development and coordination of an internship project, proposal, and the final report.
Students will also have access to an Internship Coordinator at RSMAS. This individual will assist students with the identification of potential hosting organizations, based on each student’s professional goals, skill-set, and knowledge. The Internship Coordinator will also assist students in the acquisition of these positions, including the development of CVs and interview skills, coordinating meetings with RSMAS faculty and representatives from hosting organizations, and maintaining communication with students and internship supervisors.
The hosting institution is expected to provide a supervisor for the intern. Supervisors normally hold an advanced degree and/or have several years of professional experience in their field. The Internship Supervisor is expected to determine the role of the intern and the specific tasks to be accomplished. In addition, the supervisor should plan to assist students in the development and implementation of their projects, as well as evaluate their proposals and final reports. The completion of a student evaluation by the Internship Supervisor at the end of the internship is also expected.