Career Services Ratifies New Internship Credit Policy to Avoid Ineligibility

Mike McMaster

On February 28, Colgate’s fac­ulty passed an internship credit proposal presented by Director of Career Services Ursula Olender. The new policy makes it possible for Colgate students who have completed at least one semester to obtain academic credit for intern­ships that are at least 120 hours and require academic credit as a condition for hiring.

The new policy was passed in re­sponse to students’ widespread dis­satisfaction with Colgate’s Transcript Notation Program (TNP), which previously allowed students to obtain recognition of an internship on their transcript in lieu of academic credit.

As a result of an interpretation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, however, companies have become increasingly hesitant in recent years to grant unpaid internships to students ineligible for academic credit. Colgate students have been denied access to internships with the Boston Bruins, Edward Jones, Fox News, Hearst Corporation, The Los Angeles Times, Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney and UBS, as well as multiple healthcare organizations.

According to Oldender, the Center for Career Services has been working on renewing this policy since the fall of 2007. The initiative was given new life early this semester when junior Andrew Schlenger approached Student Government Associa­tion (SGA) leaders with a concern that he could be disqualified for a competitive internship because of Colgate’s TNP.

“I encountered many issues with the previous internship TNP and was greatly limited in my summer internship opportunities,” Schleng­er said. “Upon returning to campus I found out that this was a problem that affected many Colgate stu­dents wishing to gain experience in a variety of career fields.”

On February 4, Schlenger, Olender, SGA Vice President Mike Newberg and Associate Director for Career Development and Outreach Teresa Olsen met to discuss revising the TNP.

Olender wrote the language for two internship credit proposals and on Tuesday, February 8 Schlenger and New­berg presented the proposal to the Student Senate, with Olender present to answer student senators’ questions. Both proposals passed the Senate unanimously.

A week later, on February 16, the policy was presented to Provost and Dean of the Faculty Lyle Roelofs and the Academic Affairs Board, once again passing unanimously.

On February 28, the two policies were presented to the faculty. The first policy, which was rejected by the faculty, would have allowed for students to obtain .25 credits for internships with a minimum of 120 hours and .50 credits for internships with a minimum of 200 hours. Instead, the faculty passed a second pro­posed policy, which will allow students to earn .05 credits for any internship with a maximum of four unique internships.

The policy will not allow for students to earn a nu­merically significant number of credits towards gradu­ation, something the faculty felt was strongly in the interest of Colgate’s liberal arts education.

The policy does, however, allow Colgate students more leniency in the types of internships they can pursue. Un­der the TNP, students were only granted transcript nota­tion for internships held over the summer break with a minimum of 200 hours. The new policy allows for stu­dents to obtain academic credit for internships of a mini­mum of 120 hours that can be held during the school year or over the summer or winter breaks.

After passing the Student Senate, the Academic Af­fairs Board and the faculty, the proposal is now Colgate policy and it will be included in next year’s catalog.

“We are thrilled to begin offering students the ability to participate in meaningful internships with companies requiring credit this summer,” Olender said.

“Internships are essential. They enrich the Colgate academic experience and foster students’ career deci­sion-making and competitiveness in hiring and gradu­ate school admissions processes. Career Services is committed to supporting students’ postgraduate goals and advocating across campus and beyond to ensure students’ access to these important opportunities.”

Newberg echoed Olender’s excitement.

“It will undoubtedly have a large impact on count­less students, helping them to obtain the internships they want and the experience they need to be successful in all fields after college,” he said. “I am confident that these experiences will also enrich students’ worldviews, which will help spawn important conversations in the classroom and on campus.”

Students who are interested in obtaining credit for their internships this summer should contact Office Manager Joseph DiDomizio.