ECO400Y Internship Overview

What are the goals of the course?

The primary purpose of the course is to provide students with an opportunity to apply in a practical setting the economics expertise they have gained through their course work at UTM. This is accomplished through work placements or “internships”. Internships provide students with a valuable opportunity to make personal contacts in the economics sector. The course is also intended to bridge the gap between graduation and full-time employment. Therefore, attention is paid to helping students acquire practical skills that will serve them in their job searches and, eventually in the work place. The course includes speakers focusing on practical issues relevant to the economics sector. The final written submission and oral presentation contribute to the development of communication skills.

What is an internship?

Students placed as interns in workplaces where economics expertise is applied on a daily basis. The ECO400Y5Y internships are unpaid; however the students earn a full course credit.

Internships take a variety of forms. In some cases the “employer” may ask the student to complete an individual research project. In other cases, the student may take on a role within an existing project team. Field work, database management or specific software may be involved, depending on the background, interests and skills of the student.

To successfully complete the internship, students fulfill a work commitment of 200 hours (approximately equivalent to one day per week of the academic year). The scheduling of the work commitment is flexible, and is to be worked out by mutual agreement between the student and the employer.

What does UTM expect of the employer?

Our expectation is that the employer will provide the student with a project (or variety of projects or day-to-day tasks) to work on. We recognize that this represents a significant commitment of thought, time and effort, because they must create a “niche” for the student. The work may be specifically designed for the individual student, or the student may be given a role in an ongoing project. We hope and expect that the student will be given “real” work to do, rather than “busy” work. The employer will need to provide a physical place for the student to work (an office, a desk, a work station). In all cases the employer will need to spend some time orienting the student to the nature and requirements of the project, and monitoring the student’s efforts.

Once an employer has agreed to provide a placement, he or she will be asked to submit a brief project description. This will include a brief narrative description of the job or project, a list of the skills required for the job (both academic and practical skills, such as writing or computational skills), and comments concerning any other project requirements, such as travel, special training, or required availability for field work or a special event. The internships are unpaid. The employer is not expected to pay for student’s travel to and from the workplace, although special costs may be reimbursed, as they would for any typical employee.

The employer will be asked to sign a workplace-education agreement form, which provides for students to receive the appropriate insurance coverage while on the job. The cost and administration of the insurance is covered by the University and by the Ministry of Education and Training; there is no cost to the organization providing the placement. At the end of the academic year, the employer is asked to complete a brief form assessing the student’s performance on the job; this will provide part of the student’s mark for the course. The employer will be invited and encouraged to attend the end-of-year lunch and workshop, with presentations by all our student interns and an opportunity to interact with other ECO400Y5Y employers.

What are the benefits to the employer?

In exchange for the commitment to provide a project, guidance and a work environment for the student, the employer will receive 200 hours of work from a UTM student specializing in Economics. We hope and trust that our students will make a real contribution to the work of the organization. Employers also have an opportunity to assess the qualifications of UTM near-graduates. UTM is very interested in fostering working relationships with members of our community outside academia; there are many mutual benefits to such relationships.

Some employers involved in the UTM internship courses are long-time friends of UTM; some have supervised many students over the years. Some have hired UTM graduates and some are UTM graduates. Other supervisors are joining us for the first time; we welcome them, and thank all of our employers warmly. Many supervisors feel that their involvement in this course gives them a chance to mentor the next generation of experts, and to fulfill a commitment to the community – a chance to “give something back”. We are very appreciative of the efforts of all our employers and supervisors; without their contributions, a course like this would not be possible.

What does U of T expect of the student?

The student is expected to fulfill a 200-hour work commitment, according to a schedule mutually accepted by the student and the employer. If the 200-hour commitment is not fulfilled, the "employer assessment" portion of the course mark will be withheld. Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from the workplace. Every effort will be made to accommodate students’ needs with regard to the work location, but there are no guarantees.

Students’ work will be monitored by the course director through phone calls, email, periodic meetings, and, if necessary, site visits. As part of the monitoring process, the student is asked to submit a work activity log, in which a record is kept of dates, times, and places of work, and activities undertaken. Students are expected to attend all course meetings. The main content of the course consists of the work carried out in the internship; however, five short assignments related to the practical sessions will also be required. At the end of the school year, submission of the final written report and oral presentation will complete the course requirements.

Students are sent to ECO400Y internships as "ambassadors" from the University of Toronto Mississauga. Their work in these internships is representative of the work of all other U of T students. We hope and expect that our students will act as professionals at all times. We know that they will be reliable, cooperative, and punctual. We believe that they will impress their employers not only with their existing skills and background preparation, but also with their intelligence and willingness to learn new skills.

What are the benefits to the student?

Economics students will fulfill a program requirement with the successful completion of this course. In general, students gain valuable work experience from the course. The internship can be listed on a student’s resume as an example of relevant work experience. Through the internships, the practical sessions, and the final written and oral submissions, students will gain a number of practical workplace skills, including communications (written and oral); job search and resume-writing skills; interpersonal and teamwork skills; issues identification and analysis; and project management. Finally, some students will be lucky enough to gain valuable personal contacts and perhaps even employment.

What are expected of U of T and the course director?

The University of Toronto is responsible for the cost and administration of insurance coverage for students involved in practical work as a component of their course work. Students who are working for an organization which has Workers Compensation Board coverage for their own employees are eligible for WCB coverage, handled by the University through the workplace-education agreement with the Ministry of Education and Training. Students who are completing their internship at an organization which does not provide WCB coverage for their own employees are still covered under the University’s comprehensive liability policy, through ITT Hartford. U of T will provide workplace-education agreement forms to be signed by the employer, the student, and the course director.
Additionally, the role of the faculty member will be to coordinate course activities. This includes arranging internship placements for each student. Efforts will be made to place students in workplaces that are appropriate to their backgrounds, interests, and experience, but there are no guarantees as to the type of placement that will be provided. The faculty member is also expected to monitor the student’s progress and to act as a mediator between the student and the employer, in case any problems arise. At the end of the school year, it will be the faculty member’s responsibility to gather all of the components of the course assessment and provide a course mark for the student.

What Will be the Course Format?

Class Meetings. There will be twelve mandatory class meetings throughout the school year. There will be five practical sessions, three writing instruction workshops, one alumni networking event, and three sessions devoted to your oral presentation preparations. The practical sessions will feature guest speakers who will focus on practical skills and information relevant to employment. Attendance at all of these meetings is absolutely crucial. Part of the mark for the course will be based on students’ attendance. More importantly, because your assignments will be based on the activities covered in class (particularly the practical sessions), you will find that your absences from class will not only negatively impact your course mark, but will be nearly impossible to complete the assignments.

Assignments. There will be five short writing assignments, each linked to one of the practical sessions. These assignments are designed to help students delve deeper into some of the information provided at the practical sessions. They will vary in format and content but will normally include a short writing assignment, approximately 4-5 pages in length. Because your course mark is heavily dependent on your writing quality, it is important that you pay specific attention to the Course Assessment Scheme (included in the folder provided to you on the first day of class) to understand which aspects of writing will be focused and marked on. If you are not confident about your writing skills, you are encouraged to seek additional help with your assignments with the Academic Skills Center.

Work Activity Log. Students are asked to keep a log of the days, times, and places they worked, activities undertaken, and any other relevant information. This is the type of record required by Revenue Canada for persons who are self-employed. The Work Activity Log will provide a small component of the course assessment. At the end of the year, the Work Activity Log must demonstrate that the student has successfully completed the required 200-hour work commitment.

Individual Meetings and Midterm Progress Report. Each month starting in October, the course director will make an appointment with each student to meet individually. Students are encouraged to discuss the details of their project or any issues of concern with the instructor. In the winter, much of the independent meetings will be geared towards planning the format for the student’s final written submission and oral presentation.

Final Written Report. The Final Written Report will be submitted on the Presentation Day (the date will be arranged and announced by the Registrar’s office). The format of the report will differ from student to student, depending on the nature of the work undertaken. The written submission should be professional, and representative of the work completed over the course of the year. Students will be given considerable freedom in designing their submissions, but examples of excellent and poorly-written reports will be provided to you as guidance. The writing session on March 4th will be devoted to discussing this report.

Oral Presentations. During the exam period, the ECO400Y interns will present a full-day workshop. Each student will be scheduled to give a professional oral presentation of their work. All forms of audiovisual equipment will be available for students to use in their presentations (slide projector, overhead transparency projector, computer projector, VCR, etc.). Appropriate use of audiovisual aids will be encouraged. Employers, Deans, UTM staff and faculty, and other interested students will be invited to attend these workshops. Two practice sessions will be held beforehand; students’ attendance at both of these sessions is mandatory; students who do not attend the practice session will not be allowed to give their presentations.

A full course overview is available at ECO400Y Overview