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CATA Internship and Independent Study Guidelines


Internships and Independent Study projects can significantly enhance traditional classroom instruction.  The department encourages students to seriously consider these opportunities. Internships involve being accepted to participate at a professional workplace for a significant number of hours over a period of time.  Internships involve SIGNIFICANT LEARNING by students who seek to enhance their skills, discover how academic knowledge is applied in the professional world and test their career plans. for many entry level career positions, an internship is a vital first step.  Independent Studies involve extended self-directed study of a specific topic under the direction of a CATA faculty member.  When used to meet the CATA major requirements, independent study typical involves research and writing of a type the student will likely encounter in graduate work.  any student contemplating graduate work should seriously consider completing an independent study.

To qualify for consideration, students should have:

  • achieved Junior status (at least 59 SH) by the beginning of the internship

  • completed a substantial part of the CATA major

To be considered, students should:

  •  Obtain an application for Internship/Independent Study (available on the internships page)

  • Submit the completed application  to the Internship Coordinator (Professor McGaan) by the date specified on the internship page.

After CATA faculty have met to review applications, students will be notified before the end of the semester of the department’s decision.

NOTE: Approval for an internship or independent study is approval of the applicant.  The internship itself or the independent study is approved through the contract process (see below).  Thus, students who do not yet have a specific internship site or specific independent study arrangement are encouraged to meet with a CATA faculty member to discuss plans and submit an application outlining goals (not necessarily specific locations or projects).  The purpose of the application process is not to limit projects or to create an elaborate and complex process in order to discourage applications.  Rather, going beyond academic training and skill, Internships and Independent Studies require planning, cooperation, and energy in order to be successful.  The application process is the first test of your readiness to do that.

Within ten days of beginning the Internship or Independent Study, the student must submit a signed, learning contract with signatures of the student, CATA faculty member and other appropriate involved parties, to Professor McGaan and the Registrar.  You may review below the sample internship application and contract for guidance.  Advice from the supervising CATA faculty member is always well advised.

Frequently Asked Questions  

  1. How much time do I need to put in?

    - Normally, for 3 semester hours of credit, somewhere between 125-l50 contact hours.  This averages out to 8-l0 hours per week over 15 weeks.


  2. What kinds of Internships are available?            

    - Locally, students have recently interned at:

    • WMOI/WRAM Radio (General, News, Sports, Agriculture)

    • Daily Review Atlas (General Reporting, Sports Advertising/Layout)

    • Community Memorial Hospital (PR, Personnel)

    • WAAG/WGIL Radio - Galesburg (Sales)

    • WQAD TV, Moline (Sports, News) and WHOI-TV Peoria (News)

    • MC Office of Admissions

    • MC College Communications Office

    • Knox College Public Relations Office

    • Caterpillar - Peoria (Training and Development, Public Relations)

       - Internships can also be done over the summer at locations off campus, and as part of off campus study programs.


  3. How will I be evaluated?

    - While each Internship is unique, there are general expectations for all internships. These include:

    1. Keeping a Journal (log) of daily activities

    2. Periodic meetings with MC Faculty (Internship) Sponsor

    3. A portfolio of created/finished activities

    4. A self evaluation

    5. A written evaluation from the Site Supervisor

    - Evaluation procedures for independent studies are arranged with the supervising CATA faculty member and documented in the contract.

  4. How much credit can I get?

- Internships are normally 3 semester hours,  Additional semester hours can be granted with the approval of the CATA Department IN ADVANCE.  More than three credit hours requires a proportionally larger number of on-site hours and a wider range and depth of learning experiences during the internship.  The maximum (rarely awarded) number of credit hours for internships is nine.

- Students can complete more than one Internship, though a maximum of only 3 semester hours can be applied to the CATA major (additional hours count as electives towards graduation only).

   5.  Do I need an Internship to graduate?

- Beginning with the class entering Fall, 2000, all CATA majors must complete either an Internship or an Independent Study project to graduate.

- Many employers look at this kind of experience as a means of separating the “excellent” from everyone else.  Being able to demonstrate application of theory is critical to your future success.

     6.  I think I want to do an Internship but I’m not sure - what do I do?

- By all means, talk to any CATA faculty member.  We are happy to discuss possible projects, to give you details on specific companies, to help you discover whether an Internship experience is “right” for you.

Additional Information:

  1. In extraordinary cases, these guidelines may be modified.  It is the student’s responsibility to ask for exceptional treatment and to offer support for this request.

  2. Requests for Internships may be denied for a number of reasons:

    • No suitable company/organization, too many students, asking for the same kinds of project, etc.

    • The department has determined the student is not qualified for the proposed project.

In the case of (B) above, students may appeal the decision of the department.  This would involve

  1. Requesting from the department chair a written document outlying reasons for denial;

  2. Responding to the decision by offering written and/or oral evidence to support the appeal.




Amanda Grissom '19

Johnny Williams '17

Toni Ward '16



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