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Why intern?

A good education is only the beginning. Employers prefer experienced, competent, and confident individuals over those who don't have training and whose capabilities haven't been tested.

An internship can help you to:

  • earn credit toward your degree
  • test-drive a career or a company
  • deepen understanding of your field
  • gain skills and work experience
  • prove yourself to a potential employer
  • earn some extra cash (if the internship is paid)
  • learn what needs employers have and how you might market your skills to a tailored fit
  • make professional contacts
  • create a work portfolio or "get clips"

Many businesses use internships as a recruiting tool. National averages show about 26 percent of all college graduates hired were from internship programs.

The majority of internships are paid. There are a wide range of salaries, some starting at minimum wage, some offering considerably more. Others are unpaid or compensate interns for travel expenses or for the cost of internship registration.


In order to be eligible for a Fiction Writing program internship, you must:

  • Be at least a junior (60 credit hours completed). Transfer students must have completed 15 hours minimum at Columbia.
  • Have completed 16 hours in the Fiction Writing program, including Prose Forms.
  • List at least 3 Fiction Writing program faculty as references.
  • Meet a minimum cumulative 3.0 grade point average.

Having met the minimum requirements does not guarantee an internship for an applicant. The acceptance or rejection of a student's application is at the sole discretion of the Fiction Writing program.

"Putting the concepts I've learned in the classroom to work in an environment outside the walls of the Fiction [program] has allowed me to glean a deeper understanding of what I have already learned as well as to more strongly utilize the resources that the classroom can provide now and in the future."
--John Drake, Intern, Fall 1996

How to get started

  1. Come to the Fiction Writing Office and browse the internship listings to develop a list of 3-5 intern positions that interest you. Talk to Devon Polderman and let him know what your interests are.
  2. Develop a nonfiction portfolio.
  3. Complete the required application forms.
  4. Submit your application and portfolio along with a transcript for evaluation by the program internship coordinator.
  5. If your application is accepted, it will then be your responsibility to contact potential sponsors, follow their application procedures (which may include submitting a resume, an application, and/or a writing sample) and arrange for an interview at a mutually convenient time. If you would like help in preparing for the interview, contact the Career Planning & Placement Office.
  6. Upon written verification of employment from your sponsor, an internship registration form must be completed and signed by the program internship coordinator and the Career Planning & Placement Office, then returned to the Records Office by the designated deadline.


One hour of credit is granted per 60-75 hours of work on the site. Credit is variable and established by the internship coordinator. No more than 4 hours per semester may be taken as an internship.

Although a student may take up to 12 hours of internship credits during their studies at Columbia, only 4 hours may apply to the Fiction Writing major (to be counted as elective hours).

Credit hours must be registered and paid for during the normal registration process or may be added during the first 2 weeks of the semester. The actual cost of an internship is determined by the number of class credits and internship credits you take.

If the combined hours of your classes and internship do not exceed 16 credit hours (undergraduate), the basic tuition rate applies. Each hour in excess of 16 credit hours will accrue an extra charge.


Internships are graded by the Fiction Writing program internship coordinator in consultation with the on-site supervisor, and generally include the opportunity for you to generate writing as a regular part of the job.

In order to receive a passing grade, you must submit, during the 15th week of the semester, a portfolio of on-the-job writing as well as a 5-10 page report detailing the relationship of the internship experience to your Story Workshop and other course training.

Internships that do not include the opportunity to generate writing but do offer an exceptional opportunity for related experience (e.g., copywriting) will be allowed on a case-by-case basis.  Such internships will require you to submit a daily journal of the job experience along with your report.

Your grade will be derived from the faculty coordinator's review of your portfolio and report in conjunction with the evaluation form completed by the sponsor at the end of the semester.

A passing grade cannot be given until the required paperwork is completed and submitted to the Fiction Writing program and the Career Planning & Placement Office.

Please Note

While the program continually updates its book of internship leads, many internships are identified and proposed by students looking to work in a particular field.