Internship courses

Are you looking to initiate a new internship course or enhance an existing one? Discover the essential steps to take before, during, and after the course. Learn how students can play an active role in securing internship positions, and explore the rules that apply to all parties involved.

What is meant by internship?

Internship is an overarching term for practical components in education. We usually talk about two categories: work-based training and other placements.

Work-based training (VFU)/clinical practice

This type of internship involves students working under the supervision of a professional in the field.

Other placements

Other practical experiences aim to provide students with a better understanding of their future careers by participating, listening, and learning. For example, through observation, field-oriented studies, mentorship projects, and similar activities. Here too, students should have a responsible supervisor.

Who arranges the internship?

That depends. The most common scenario is that the students arrange their placement themselves, in consultation with you as the programme coordinator. However, the requirements differ depending on whether the internship course is elective or mandatory.

Mandatory internship

Several internship courses are integral components of academic programmes, especially in disciplines with specific professional orientations, such as the Study Programme for Human Resource Management, the Swedish Language Consultancy Programme, or the Programme in Strategic Communication. In these cases, the department is essentially obligated to ensure that all students secure suitable internship placements. Some students may still wish to contact employers themselves, and that is perfectly fine.

If the course is mandatory, as the programme coordinator, you typically ensure that there are a certain number of placements in the local area for students with special needs (due to family situations, disabilities, or other circumstances). For clinical work-based training, specific coordinators will assist in placing the students.

Elective course

There are no specific requirements for arranging internship placements for students in programmes that offer internships as elective courses.

Why internship?

Of course, internships require some work from everyone involved. But they also offer a win-win-win situation.

For the students

Many students want to undergo work placement to have the opportunity to test their newly acquired knowledge, but also to establish their own contacts within the workforce that awaits them. Often, the internship can lead to things like summer jobs, thesis projects, and temporary positions.

For you as the programme coordinator

As someone responsible for the programme or course, you have an excellent opportunity to assess the relevance of the education in relation to the needs of the workforce/society. Are the students learning what is needed in today's professional roles, or is it time to adjust certain aspects? Work placement can also help promote the education, the subject focus, and Umeå University since our students often are excellent ambassadors.

For the employer

For employers, it is often attractive to host a student. This is especially true considering future recruitment needs, but also because the student can bring new perspectives to the operation and assist with tasks that might not otherwise be addressed. What can sometimes hinder the process is a lack of workplaces and/or available supervisors.

When should you schedule an internship course?

This varies as well. The most common practice is to schedule an internship towards the end of the education so that the students are well-prepared and, so to speak, "stand on solid ground." However, shorter internship periods early in the education can also be beneficial for the students to become acquainted with their future job market, make informed decisions within the education, and better understand what is expected to be learned and why.


To ensure that the internship period is meaningful for all involved and maintains good academic quality, it is important to secure the process before, during, and after the course.

Start early

Make sure to prepare the students for the prerequisites of the internship course, preferably at least six months before the course begins.

Arrange an orientation day

For some students, the internship may be their first-ever contact with an employer – and this can be a bit intimidating. Therefore, an orientation day with representatives from the workforce and previous interns is often a good start.

Utilise this occasion to provide guidance on crafting a CV, presenting oneself and one's programme, and approaching employers. Also, make sure to explain the type of tasks the students might undertake during their internships.

Clarify requirements and expectations

In addition to verbal communication, it is vital to provide students with clear written documentation outlining the formal requirements and expectations from both you as the course coordinator and the external party. Moreover, be sure to inquire about the expectations that students themselves may have.

Make it clear from the outset, both for the student and the employer, that the internship period is intended as a learning opportunity and should not be equated with paid employment. Additionally, ensure that the student is allocated a supervisor and a designated workplace.

The information is summarised in a document that the student should use when securing an internship.

Ensure that the students are familiar with:

  • The conditions and formalities of the course.
  • The examination process for the course.
  • How to effectively describe their program to others, especially employers.
  • The types of tasks they can or should undertake during the internship.
  • Proper procedures and conduct when initiating contact with employers.

Check with the employer

It is crucial that not only the students but also the employer understands the purpose, conditions, and formalities of the internship. Therefore, it is advisable to establish personal contact with the assigned supervisor before the internship period commences.

If direct contact proves unfeasible, drafting a letter of intent that can be signed or otherwise verified by the supervisor is a prudent alternative. This helps reduce the risk of misunderstandings or irregularities early on.

Ensure that the supervisor:

  • Has set aside time for supervising the student and is available throughout the internship period.
  • Assists with tasks that are relevant to the student and are at the right difficulty level.
  • Has arranged for a workplace and/or other relevant equipment.
  • Understands that the student is interning to learn.


In the vast majority of cases, the internship period progresses smoothly without any mishaps. However, for quality considerations, some aspects may still be worth focusing on, especially if the students are away for an extended period.

Conduct a mid-term review

This is particularly relevant if the internship period extends over half a term or longer. Since students can be located anywhere in the country (or abroad), a physical meeting is often impractical. A brief Skype or phone call, or alternatively, a concise email with some questions, will suffice.

The main objective is to identify any uncertainties or perceived dissatisfaction from the supervisor and/or student. Depending on the nature of the issue, there may be an opportunity to provide assistance to ensure the remainder of the period proceeds more smoothly. Of course, a mid-term review also allows you to recognise what is working well.

Ensure that:

  • The supervisor and student have a well-functioning relationship.
  • The student feels that the tasks contribute meaningfully to their learning.

Short interim assessments

Internship courses are typically examined upon completion. However, during more extended internship periods, introducing short interim assessments can be beneficial. This provides the student with an opportunity to pause and reflect on the current situation. How does their knowledge align with the assigned tasks? What values and workplace culture does the student experience?

Short interim assessments also serve as indicators for you as a teacher or programme coordinator on the progress of the work and the dynamics of the relationship between the student, the supervisor, and others in the workplace.


Once the internship is concluded, it is time to evaluate the time spent. What were the impressions of the students and employers? Are there any insights to bring back to the educational programme?


Concerning the examination of the internship course, the most common approach is a written report compiled by the student either during or after the internship.

The report typically includes:

  • Reflection and evaluation of the student's own learning.
  • Tasks describing the workplace and assigned responsibilities.

If possible, allowing students to give a brief oral presentation to each other about their experiences can be beneficial. This contributes to environmental monitoring and a better understanding of the upcoming job market.


Students express their opinions about the internship through the usual course evaluations. However, employers and supervisors should also have the opportunity to evaluate their intern. How has the interaction with the student been? Has the student observed and learned eagerly? Demonstrated initiative and proactively addressed tasks? Or, on the contrary, appeared awkward, uninterested, or unengaged?

In summary, follow up on what has worked well and what may not have worked as effectively. This is crucial, especially to maintain relationships for future internship courses. Through evaluation, you can also receive valuable feedback on the student's knowledge in areas related to the needs of the workforce and society. This information is useful for keeping the educational programme updated, both in the short and long term.

Rule for administration of placements

In the Rule for administration of placements and study visits, you will find information that applies generally to all internships and study trips. In addition to this, each faculty, as well as Umeå School of Education, has specific procedures that clarify current practices and principles for your respective programmes.

Rule for administration of placements and study visits

Lena Holmberg