English majors hone the writing, reading, speaking, and critical thinking skills that are essential for life beyond the university. Rather than providing a single, linear career path, the English major gives graduates the flexibility to compete in a rapidly-changing economy and to adapt to working with emerging technologies and new media. As part of practicing for such careers, English majors often participate in internships. Our faculty are happy to help students find both informal and formal internship opportunities. Among these opportunities are the following courses in which students complete internships for college credit.

English 4890 & 4891: Practicum: Careers in Writing

An internship is a “field experience” course: it’s an academic course (you earn course credit and work with a professor), but most of the work occurs at an internship “field site,” the professional workplace where you agree to intern. Internships provide on-the-job experience in the fields of writing and communication, and they offer opportunities to work with committed professionals and to learn about careers available to English majors.

Our students have interned with Pitt County Arts Council, Stop Human Trafficking of Eastern NC, United Way of Pitt County, Carolina Style Magazine, Cornerstone Leadership Academy, and Irons Law Firm. Within ECU, they have worked with the North Carolina Literary Review, Tar River Poetry, University Writing Center, ECU Marketing and Communication/Office of Admissions, and the Donne Variorum and the Digital Donne project.

A student can earn 6 semester hours (s.h.) towards the major or minor by completing both ENGL 4890 and ENGL 4891. Both are available as web-based campus courses. Each course is 3 s.h., and includes 140 hours of on-the-job work with a significant writing component. Courses may not be repeated. Students interested in internship opportunities can download this handout with more information or contact Dr. Brent Henze, Internship Coordinator.

Brianna and Shelby
The English department provides assistance with placement and guidance throughout the internship process. Our goal is to facilitate student learning and skills development in addition to helping students think about careers. Other benefits of these for-credit internships include:
  • Occasions for observing, analyzing, and commenting on work experiences
  • Strategies for understanding the roles and responsibilities of communicators in the workplace
  •  Valuable resume experience

At left, Fall 2015 intern Brianna Horton poses with North Carolina Poet Laureate Shelby Stephenson. Photograph by Linda Fox and courtesy of NCLR. Learn more about NCLR internships.

Why intern, and how does it work?

  • Apply your skills and knowledge as an English student in a professional workplace?
  • Work alongside professionals and experience how professionals communicate in their jobs?
  • Receive on-the-job mentoring along with academic support and professionalization before graduation?
  • Build a portfolio that showcases your talents as a communicator?

Each internship requires 140 hours of work, which is about 10 hours per week in a regular semester. The work itself varies from workplace to workplace (and from intern to intern); you’ll work with the internship coordinator to determine your learning goals and find an ideal field site. You’ll also meet regularly with the internship coordinator to discuss how the work is going, to troubleshoot work tasks, to learn professional skills, and for help finding resources that will improve your internship learning experience.

A successful internship is a learning experience, not just a way to add a resume line (though it does that, too). It gets you out of your “comfort zone,” doing work that you aren’t already able to do at an expert level, but that you are prepared to learn with the right kinds of support. Your field supervisor and the internship coordinator provide that support.

Who is eligible to complete an internship?

The internship counts as an undergraduate English elective toward the English major, the English minor, and the Certificate in Business and Technical Writing. Students not affiliated with English can also complete an internship for elective credit.

Where can I intern?

Any supervised professional work setting can serve as an internship field site. That includes local businesses, municipal or government offices, non-profit or civic organizations, churches, libraries, schools, university offices--any place where professionals use their communication skills to get things done.

Internship sites may be in the local area or elsewhere. English students have completed internships as far away as Peru (at the Fulbright Foundation office in Lima) and Washington, DC (at the Pentagon and at the library of the US Supreme Court). Many students who complete internships in the summers find placements in their hometowns.

Past internship placements have included:

  • local and regional businesses (Vidant Wellness Center; Greenville Utility Commission; Albemarle Hospital; area law offices)
  • area nonprofits (the March of Dimes; United Way of Pitt County; Stop Human Trafficking of Eastern NC)
  • regional civic organizations (Cornerstone Leadership Academy; Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce; Pitt County Arts Council)
  • campus programs and organizations (Center for Academic Computing; ECU Undergraduate Marketing; Office of Technology Transfer)
  • area publications (Mixer Magazine; Tar River Poetry; NCLR; Washington Daily News)

The sky’s the limit: there are lots of experience-building and educational opportunities out there for students willing to stretch their abilities. The internship coordinator will help you find a great position and make the most of the experience once you’re on board.