Guidelines MSc Internship

The internship provides you the opportunity to work outside Wageningen University & Research at a host organisation, e.g. a company, public institution, consultancy firm, research organisation, another university or non-governmental organisation, thereby broadening your academic horizon. The host organisation/work should be of sufficiently high academic standard to reflect the desired level of Wageningen graduates.

Learning aims
General aims for an AEW Internship are:

  1. apply knowledge and skills acquired during the course of your study
  2. execute certain professional skills better
  3. work in a professional environment

As learning outcomes can be mentioned (depending on the type of internship and topic)

  1. explore the workfield of the organization
  2. apply specific knowledge in practice
  3. work in a team
  4. set up a working plan with time schedule
  5. efficiently use and analyze information
  6. judge your own work
  7. be open for criticism
  8. accept and use comments
  9. write an internship report
  10. structure the report logically

Next to the above mentioned learning outcomes you should formulate your own, more specific personal outcomes.

General set-up of an internship

The total period spent on an internship can be divided into 3 phases: proposal writing, working phase and writing phase. Different activities will take place with different products for the phases (Table 4).


Table 4: Different phases in the MSc internship with activities and products.
Phase Activity Product
Proposal writing Orientation, Problem analysis, Literature search, Work plan, Presentation (optional) Written research proposal, Start presentation (optional)
Performing the research Experiment, Field work, Modeling, Data gathering & data analysis, Data interpretation Data, Preliminary results
Thesis writing Putting the pieces together, Writing report, Preparation of presentation (optional) Thesis report, Final presentation (optional)

Proposal writing
Usually you start with a general idea about the internship and you may have had some discussion with your supervisor of the host institute and the one from AEW. A detailed project plan, however, still needs to be written. This phase lasts in general 4 to 6 weeks depending on the kind of topic, your knowledge etcetera.
You will explore the background of the problem, critically review scientific literature, delineate your problem, formulate questions and reflect on methodology. Table 5 shows most elements that should be in a research proposal. Length of proposal is 5 to 8 pages A4.

Table 5. Contents for research proposal
Subject Content
Project title As concise as possible formulated
Introduction Including background of problem, state of the art according scientific literature, scientific & social relevance. Formulation of the research questions and hypotheses which have to follow logically from the previous parts
Methods Description of available data, fieldsites & models that will be used, design of field inventory, design of experiments, modelling activities Description of statistical methods to analyze data
Planning A week to week planning, related to the research activities and research questions

Performing the research
After writing the proposal, the practical work starts (field work, modelling, experiment). Data will be collected and analyzed. During this phase the AEW supervisor will be informed regularly on the progress made. If internship work is done abroad students have to adapt to working conditions that are often different from Dutch conditions, such as institutional hierarchy, ethics, dress code etcetera.

Internship writing
Usually 4 to 6 weeks are needed to write the final report. In close cooperation with the supervisors a choice for a report or paper will be made. Common languages are English and Dutch. When you have a first complete draft of your internship report ready (with all chapters and annexes but some smaller elements may still be missing) ask your AEW supervisor for comments on changes in structure and contents. Reflection report is an obligatory part of the internship report and can be added as an annex. The AEW supervisor usually needs 1 week for this proof reading. After having discussed the comments with your AEW supervisor, you have one change to improve your draft. Ask the secretariat of AEW for an Internship Report number, that should appear on the cover of the report. The number of hardcopies will be determined in cooperation with the AEW supervisor. A PDF version of the final report or paper is also required.
The task of writing a thesis sometimes lures students into using other’s work, ideas, facts, texts etcetera and presenting it as their own. It is important to understand that plagiarism is considered as a very serious offence against academic norms and, hence subject to equally serious punishment. Therefore, read the Wageningen University & Research plagiarism policy in the Student Charter (2.8 Students and copyright, p. 24-25, and 5.3.3. Fraud and plagiarism, p. 56-47) and Appendices Student Charter (Article 33h, p.117)).

The internship report has the following contents:

  1. Cover page
  2. Preface (optional)
  3. Abstract (max 1 page)
  4. Introduction: problem definition, state-of-the-art, theory/concepts, objectives, research questions
  5. Material & Methods: description of how the problem was studied, which materials were used, type of statistical analyses
  6. Results: what where the findings?
  7. Discussion: Discuss your findings with those from literature, what are good/weaker points in your study
  8. Conclusions & Recommendations: answer your research questions and formulate recommendations
  9. References & Annexes, including the reflection report on internship also in relation to your study program


Click here for an example report.


Final presentation (optional)
After the draft internship report is finished, the student is free to give a colloquium. If so, reserve a date with your AEW supervisor in time. Presentations at AEW are scheduled on Thursday mornings and reservations can be made at the secretariat. Twenty minutes are reserved for the oral presentation followed by 10 minutes discussion. It is strongly advised to have a test colloquium a few days before.

Final meeting
In a final meeting, your AEW supervisor will question and discuss your work during the internship. During this meeting the mark will be given.

Assessment

The standard form Internship evaluation Wageningen University & Research (click here for downloading) will be used. The standard rubric for the assessment will be applied by your AEW supervisor (click here for downloading). Usually the host supervisor is also asked to fill in the evaluation form.