CofC Logo

Internships

The small dog barking at the darkness has something to say about the way we live. I’d rather have what my daddy calls “skrimp.” He says “discrete” and means the street just out of sight. Not what you see, but what you perceive: that’s poetry. Not the noise, but its rhythm; an arrangement of derangements; I’ll eat you to live: that’s poetry.

—Terrance Hayes from “Lighthead’s Guide to the Galaxy”

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program* entertains proposals for two types of internships: field internships, which include work in the publishing industry, technical writing, community college teaching, museums, archives, etc., and internal teaching internships.

Students who are interested in internships are responsible for finding an appropriate sponsor, and for organizing communication between the graduate director and the internship supervisor. Nevertheless, they should use these guidelines as an aid. 

Field Internships

These internships are designed to help students make the transition from academe to the professional world. The goal is to develop real-world experience in a non-academic field they want to pursue after graduation. Working with the graduate advisor early in the application process will help students devise an appropriate project, especially because the advisor can share a list of past internships and of alumni contacts who are willing to develop an internship relationship with the MFA program. Another potential source for internships is the Career Center.

The graduate director will act as the student's faculty supervisor. In consultation with both the graduate director and with the off-campus supervisor of the internship, the student will complete the Application for Individual Graduate Enrollment Project form. This application should be approved before the first day of class of the academic semester in which the project is to be undertaken.

On the form there is a "Description of Project" field. To complete this, fill out an Internship Agreement form.  All field internships require that students keep a weekly journal, write a short narrative paper at the end, turn in a portfolio of work produced, and complete three evaluation forms. These requirements are laid out more fully in the Internship Agreement form. In addition, students should consult with their site supervisor in order to lay out the more specific duties of the individual internship. 

Another type of field internship would be teaching at another institution of higher education, such as Trident Technical College (TTC) or Coastal Carolina University. In fact, the College has a strong internship exchange program with TTC, where many of our graduate students in English teach basic writing courses to earn three hours of graduate credit. For internships sponsored by other institutions, the graduate director is officially the faculty supervisor.

We highly recommended that students planning to do a teaching internship at TTC or another institution do not do it in their first semester of the MFA program. Ideally, students should first enroll in one of the College's internal teaching internships to work closely with an experienced professor before taking on writing or literature classes on their own.

Internal Teaching Internships

English Department faculty manage the internal teaching internships. They function like apprenticeships, in which a student works closely with a professor to plan, instruct and evaluate an undergraduate English class (usually ENGL 220 and ENGL 223, the introductory undergraduate creative writing courses). These teaching internships are designed to train students to teach writing at the college level, and are appropriate for students who want to teach at a two-year or four-year college, or earn a doctorate.

As with field internships, students are responsible for securing the cooperation of a faculty sponsor. However, the graduate director can help develop contacts that might prove fruitful. In consultation with both the graduate director and with the internship supervisor, students will complete the Application for Individual Graduate Enrollment Project form (also called the "Independent Study Registration Form"). In the "Description of Project" space, attach a contract, drafted in consultation with your faculty supervisor, detailing your responsibilities. These responsibilities should include attending all class meetings.

For teaching internships conducted at the College of Charleston, the mentoring faculty member will be the faculty supervisor.

To write you must have a streak of arrogance. By arrogance I mean that when you are writing you must assume that the next thing you put down belongs not for reasons of logic, good sense, or narrative development, but because you put it there.

—John Gardner