The internship is a mandatory part of the undergraduate curriculum in the Department of Occupational & Environmental Safety and Health. Students spend the final semester of their academic career working in an organization under the supervision of a safety or environmental professional, helping them resolve the organization's occupational or environmental safety and health problems.
During the semester, students return to campus three times for afternoon seminars where they share their experiences with their fellow interns. Also during the semester, a member of the department faculty (fieldwork supervisors) visit interns to ensure adequate progress. In addition to attending the three seminars, interns are required to keep a daily log of their activities, prepare a portfolio of major accomplishments during the internship, and provide two cost-benefit analyses from projects they worked on.
Placing interns with companies is a matching process that begins with the Internship Coordinator. The Coordinator has a pool of students seeking internships and a list of companies that have expressed an interest in sponsoring an intern. Based on the requirements of the companies and the desires of the students, possible matches are identified. The company is then provided with a resume and transcript of intern candidates. If there is interest on the company's part, the company notifies the Coordinator and then calls the student directly to arrange for an interview. If the company feels there is a match, the company extends an internship offer to the student. Upon acceptance, the company calls the Internship Coordinator and an agreement is prepared that is signed by the Internship Coordinator, the Director of Field Experiences and the Intern. The contract is then forwarded to the Site Supervisor for their signature and must be returned before the intern may begin work.
My internship experience was remarkable. It gave me the opportunity to take the safety skills and ideas I learned at UW-Whitewater and apply them in the field under supportive supervision.
Associate Safety Director
AGC of Greater Milwaukee
We have used the program five times and hired four interns as full-time employees. The knowledge level is exceptional and consistent.
Associate Facilities Manager
Underwriters Laboratories Inc.
Interns are subject to the same rules as other employees. In the rare circumstance that performance is deemed unacceptable, the intern may be terminated at the company's discretion. The Site Supervisor, Intern and Fieldwork Supervisor are usually able to resolve any problems before reaching this stage. Interns are still students, and while they may have good technical knowledge of Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health, they lack practical experience. Interns need guidance and direction to apply their knowledge to help the company improve safety and health and gain the most from the opportunity. Most companies that sponsor our students as interns are "repeat customers," though not necessarily back-to-back semesters. We believe this shows the value of this program to both students and companies. To sponsor an intern, companies should contact Dr. Tracy Buchman, Fieldwork Internship Coordinator.