Typically, you are required to write a report about your work at the completion of an internship or co-op. Although an internship or co-op might not be linked directly to a class, per se, the act of writing the report—which is often achieved in the final weeks of the experience or in the semester following the work—is certainly a writing-intensive experience. The document provides a simple means for you to report to your faculty supervisor on both the content and value of your work assignment, and, more importantly, it gives you a chance to reflect on the work you have done in both a personal and professional manner. You should think of your report, therefore, as both a formal academic assignment and as a personal opportunity to use and enhance your skills as a communicator. Just as successful people thrive by blending their formal education and experience with critical self-assessment, you can use your report to review what you have learned, detail what you have accomplished, and gauge your personal growth. Also, especially if you produce a professional product, you might offer your report as a writing sample to a potential employer.
Frequently, you will be given guidelines for writing your report from a faculty supervisor, and it is critical that you follow these guidelines to the letter. It is also important, though, that you treat these guidelines as starting points rather than ending ones. For instance, if you are posed with three questions to consider in a particular section of your report, your responses to these questions should be thoughtful and expansive rather than just simple one-sentence answers. Further, you should see these questions as starting points that will lead you to other related questions of your own design. The bottom line is this: Any report guidelines you are given should be viewed as a substantive framework that awaits your interpretation and elaboration, not as a simple Q-and-A or fill-in-the-blank exercise.
One important note about your report: Before being turned in to your faculty supervisor, it should first be reviewed by your employer. Your employer’s role here is proprietary; i.e., the employer should be considered the “owner” of the report content. You must be certain that your employer will allow the content of your report to become public, and you should also view the employer’s review of your report as standard practice—just as a project manager reviews and endorses the written work of his or her team members.
As a complement to whatever guidelines you are given, the following sections will aid you in generating detail, making your report stylish, and treating it as a personal and professional product. Keep in mind that internship and co-op reports are typically built around specific majors or programs. Therefore, advice you find on the web for one program might not be correct for another, even within the same school. Always check within your program or department office to ensure you are following the appropriate, most up-to-date guidelines.
Report Content and Style
The specifics of your report content will vary based on the guidelines provided by your faculty supervisor. However, all faculty supervisors will be interested in reading about three main subjects:
You should describe the employer you worked for in thorough detail. As you do so, consider doing the following jobs, typically devoting at least one paragraph to each:
Outline some of the employer’s key goals and challenges, highlighting those problems or projects with which you were specifically charged.
In describing your work duties, outline your specific responsibilities and tie them into any larger projects with which you were involved. Detailed accounts should be given of such issues as the following:
Your Evaluation of the Work Experience
An evaluation of your internship or co-op is important not just for your faculty supervisor, but for your academic department, your peers, and for you personally. As a way to evaluate your experience, elaborate on areas such as the following:
No one expects you to emulate Shakespeare as you write your report (in fact, you had better not do so—“Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune . . .”); instead, your readers will expect your information to be clear and your ideas to be fluid. Therefore, as you compose your report, employ the following stylistic benchmarks:
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