Department of English Language and Literature

MSC03 2170
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001

Physical Location:
Second Floor

Phone: (505) 277-6347
Fax: (505) 277-0021

Professional Writing Internship for Students

Welcome! On this page, you will get all sorts of information that will help you consider and prepare for the Professional Writing Internship. This section is structured for the various stages you may be at when considering the internship, followed by an FAQ at the end. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Bartolotta at

Several Semesters before the Internship

When you are a First-year, sophomore, or junior, you should think about what sort of job or career you might enjoy going into after you graduate. Do not think about this as a "I have to decide what I am doing for the rest of my life" sort of decision. Think of the internship as your opportunity to explore an area of professional writing in a professional context. Do you enjoy writing manuals? Do you have a knack for web design? Do you want to write articles for magazines or blogs? Are you interested in how professional writers (or how the skills professional writers posses) work in law, medicine, or other fields? Take classes that are interesting to you and feed your curiosity. Make sure you also take ENGL 219 and ENGL 290, which are offered every Fall and Spring semester.

The Semester before the Internship

Start to put together a résumé highlighting your experiences and qualifications. Your ENGL 219 textbook will have several examples of résumés. There are also good tips on writing a résumé from weskits like the Grammar Girl. Dr. Bartolotta is also a resource to you as you compose your résumé, feel free to make an appointment and bring a draft of your résumé to him for comments.

Once you decide to participiate in the Internship

Congratulation! Make sure you register for ENGL 499 immediately, and start looking around for internship opportunities. You may want to check out the following:

  • Contact present interns with positions you find interesting and ask them how they acquired those opportunities.
  • Contact the University of New Mexico's Office of Career Services and search their Job and Internship Opportunities
  • Contact organizations of businesses that you find interesting and ask if there are any internship opportunities available. (Seriously, this actually works).
  • Check out our list of internship opportunities that students have had some success with.

You do not need to have an internship lined up by the first day of ENGL 499, although it certainly helps. You will be required to have an internship by the third week of ENGL 499 in order to gain credit for the course. Feel free to contact Dr. Bartolotta if you are struggling with finding a placement (

The Semester of your Internship/ENGL 499

Make sure you attend the first session of ENGL 499!

At your internship, you must identify an Internship Mentor. This individual is usually your immediate supervisor. Your internship mentor must provide me with two memos:

The first Memo of Understanding (MOU) acknowledges that you are working as an intern and gives some overview of the tasks you are expected to participate in and/or complete (I should receive that memo (inception memo) ASAP, if I do not already have it). Please ask the mentor to be specific in describing (albeit briefly) what sort of work you may be expect to perform, what you may be asked to write, and forecast some of your responsibilities. Even something as simple as “Catherine will be expected to reply to emails from customers, generate some content for our website, and present a status report to the board of directors…” helps me understand the work you expect to perform in this internship.

The second memo shall come at the end of the semester and acknowledges completion of your internship or completion of work up to a date after the midterm of this class. The second memo (completion memo) is not necessarily an evaluation, although most mentors will praise your work. Both memos should be emailed as an attachment from your mentor.

At the beginning of your internship you will also provide me an inception memo giving me your understanding of the expectations for your internship. You should share your memo with your mentor. This memo from you should also be provided as soon as possible after the class begins. (Not providing the required documents may be reason for not passing the seminar.)

I would like to, if possible, come for a site visit at your internship at some point in the semester. I would like to see where you work, perhaps meet your mentor, and get a sense of the context of your internship experience. This is not a requirement, but if we can make the schedule work, I would appreciate 15 to 30 minutes to “see you in action.” We will talk more about this as the semester continues.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Professional Writing Internship Program?

Professional Writing majors and minors participate in internships that are linked to the Internship Seminar (English 499). Professional Writing students usually take the Internship Seminar the first semester of their senior year (the semester prior to your graduation semester.) Sometimes, due to scheduling difficulties, students take the seminar during their final semester, but it is probably preferred to do the class one semester before the semester in which you graduate.

Should I do the internship at the same time as the Internship Seminar, English 499?

Yes, that’s probably the best option, since the class focuses on the internship experience, and the course attempts to help Professional Writing students prepare for their career search campaigns following graduation. Due to your schedule concerns, you may have to start the internship the semester prior to the class. If that is the case, it’s best to continue your internship into the semester when you take the seminar, but it is not required. Contact the Internship Director, as students usually have individual concerns about scheduling and other matters.

Why is the Internship Seminar (English 499) offered for 1-3 CR/NC hours?

The work requirements are the same whether you take the class for one or three hours. Students who don’t need the three hours of credit or who don’t want to pay more for three hours credit may choose the lower credit option.

How do I go about getting a Professional Writing internship?

Getting an internship is just like hunting for a job. Most students visit the Professional Writing web page on the English Department web site. Select internship opportunities that most closely reflect your career options. Contact probable internship mentors and schedule an interview time. Dress professionally for the interview.  Taking a current resume and some writing samples to the meeting is probably a good idea. Assume that getting an internship requires genuine effort and planning on your part. Do not wait until the class starts to try to get an internship. If you don’t have an internship by the third week of the semester, you may be dropped from the seminar.

Do I have to do an internship listed on the internship web page?

No, some students have developed internships that are not listed on the site. In this instance, the Internship Director will work with the potential internship mentor and you to establish the required paperwork.  The only requirement is that the intern should produce professional documents and memos of record during the course of the internship. These professional documents such as articles, procedures, reports, proposals can provide you with portfolio samples that will help you in your job search following graduation. One of the goals of the seminar is to help students compile professional portfolios for your job search.

How do internships work?

Internships are closely related to what we do in the internship seminar. One you have successfully interviewed with your internship mentor, you and the mentor should meet to determine your working relationship. You should mutually agree on the hours you will put in, the kind of documents you will work on, and what your mutual goals are for the internship experience. There are no stated goals or requirements for the Professional Writing internships, as students and mentors will have different schedules and goals that must be mutually determined by mentors and interns as a professional collaboration. Following your initial conference with your mentor, the mentor must send the Director a memo stating his or her understanding about the specifics that will be required during the term of the internship. This memo of understanding (MOU) should be sent to the Director as soon as possible after this initial meeting.  You, the student intern, must also send the Director an inception memo (IM) stating your understanding of what is required and your work relationship as well. This should be done at the beginning of the semester in which you take the internship seminar.

At the end of the semester, the internship mentor sends the Internship Director a completion memo (CM) stating what the intern accomplished during the course of the internship. Students in the seminar must also complete a reflective memo that is included as a cover document for their professional document portfolios that are turned in to the seminar instructor (Internship Director) at the end of the semester. The reflective memo details the intern student’s learning process during the internship. Even if the intern and the mentor have decided that the internship will continue beyond the completion of the course, both mentor and student interns must furnish these memos to the Internship Director.

What are the student’s responsibilities to complete the Internship Seminar, English 499?

Students produce the following assignments during the semester—
1.) A professional bio-profile that is put up with the intern’s picture on the internship web page.
2.) A thoroughly prepared and revised resume.
3.) A professional portfolio of samples produced during the course of the Professional Writing program and during the internship.
4.) The internship inception memo (referred to above.)
5.) The internship completion memo (referred to above.)

Does every Professional Writing major or minor have to complete an internship and the internship seminar (English 499?)

Yes and no. but the Internship Director may waive this requirement under certain conditions. If the student has significant Professional Writing experience, the Director may, at his discretion, waive the internship and internship seminar requirement. Some examples of work that may warrant a waiver include but are not limited to the following—
1.) The student has written and published books with major publishing houses.
2.) The student has a current position in the field and can demonstrate significant accomplishments in Professional Writing.
3.) The student has significant past experience in the field and can demonstrate Professional Writing accomplishments that would warrant a waiver.

Waivers are granted on a case-by-case basis, so if you think that your situation should be considered, contact the Internship Director.

Any questions?

If you have any questions or concerns, contact James Burbank, Internship Director,