The culminating academic experience for undergraduate students in Recreation, Sport and Tourism at UIUC is a semester-long internship that provides students the opportunity to apply knowledge and skills gained from the classroom and coursework to a professional environment.
In consultation with the RST Internship and Engagement Coordinator, an internship agency is selected that represents a match between the students’ academic preparation and their career goals. This formal, guided, learning experience is supervised simultaneously by the agency supervisor and RST Internship Coordinator. The diversity of the recreation, sport and tourism industries is reflected by the types of agencies where students have completed successful internships, including convention and visitor bureaus, collegiate and professional athletic departments and teams, park districts and departments, corporate employee recreation programs, cruise ships, and state and national parks. Benefits of the internship, in addition to the application and refinement of job specific knowledge and skills, include the development of professional relationships, the opportunity to discover professional strengths and areas of needed growth, and an enhanced depth and breadth of understanding of the industry.
RST undergraduate students participated in internship opportunities provided our internship partners around the world. The 2022-2023 academic year is poised to be a record setting year for RST student internship participation as internship and employment opportunities in the recreation, sport, and tourism industries continue to increase world wide.
RST 485 Internship
For information about required materials and internship opportunities see the RST Career Opportunity Board on Canvas, the RST 480 Canvas page, and flyers posted at the RST Academic Advising office (Huff 129) and the Internship Coordinator office (Huff 237).
All RST undergraduate students may participate in a RST 280 qualified internship. Internship job descriptions and internship offers for RST 280 will be reviewed at any time during the semester. See Course information below and in Course Explorer.
Submit all internship job descriptions to the RST Internship Coordinator Mike Raycraft at firstname.lastname@example.org for approval and entrance into the course.
Hotel Nayara Bocas del Toro (Starfish S.A), Bocas del Toro Panama
YMCA of the Rockies
BRITTANY: I am Brittany, and I'm doing my internship at YMCA of the Rockies, and this is park Colorado.
A little bit about myself. I'm from Lindenhurst, Illinois, and I'm a senior in RST, with a concentration in recreation management and a minor in communication.
The reason I came here for my internship is because my sister lives in Boulder, which is only an hour away from here, and because I worked for a few different YMCAs in the past, so I'm familiar with the company, and I felt like the position of family programs facilitator worked well with my job experience. I also wanted to get out of Illinois and explore the mountains a bit. I love animals and I love hiking, so I felt like the Rockies would be a perfect place for me.
The main place that I work is called Sweet Memorial, and it's our program's building. Sweet is at the center of the Y campus, and it's pretty much the hub for all activities here at the Y. Here, we can help guests plan and schedule any activities they would like to do on their trip, and it's also where we run the majority of our family programs. As a family program facilitator, part of my job includes leading recreational and adventure activities, like rock climbing, archery, our Harry Potter-themed escape room, and the roller rink.
Most of my time is spent facilitating our family programs, with the majority of them being educational classes. We have many educational family programs involving wildlife, like birds, gray wolves, bears, owls of the Rockies, animal detectives, and dinosaur discovery, which is actually a new program that I created. We also have some more practical programs that are run, like fire-making, survival skills, knot tying, and mountain exploration. I also run more hands-on rec activities, like ultimate frisbee, geo-caching, and guided hikes.
Because I'm an intern, I've also been learning a lot from my supervisor. He's been teaching me about some of the administrative tasks he does, like scheduling and budgeting, as well as how to plan, coordinate, and organize group programs. This is really cool for me to see, because I hope to be a program coordinator or event planner in the future, and it's interesting to see the behind the scenes of the job.
Living in the Rocky Mountains has been such an incredible and beautiful experience. Working at the YMCA has been an amazing internship opportunity that I've learned and grown so much from. Though it's been stressful at times, it's been well worth it.
My biggest takeaway from this internship is that if you have an opportunity you like to pursue, you should do it. I was so out of my comfort zone moving to Colorado, but it has been such an incredible experience that I wouldn't take back for a minute.
Illinois Athletic Camps
Maggie Daley and Lakeshore Sport and Fitness
- To provide students with experiences to enhance their professional careers; an arena to practice the application of theory and techniques and to discover their professional strengths and weaknesses.
- To enhance students understanding of recreation, sport and tourism opportunities and practices.
- To provide the University with an applied setting for evaluating students’ performance.
- To establish and enhance communication between recreation, sport and tourism agencies and the University.
- To offer practitioners an opportunity to contribute to the recreation, sport and tourism industries through the preparation of professionals.
The internship program consists of the opportunity to participate in internship field experiences (RST 280) while enrolled in the undergraduate program followed by enrollment in a professional internship (RST 485-required) during the junior or senior year. Students are strongly encouraged to seek out field experiences throughout their undergraduate career.
The Internship Program consists of work or volunteer experience, preferably at the operational level (i.e., face-to-face leadership, park maintenance, camp counselor, assistant to full-time staff.) in a recreation, sport or tourism affiliated agency. It is preferred that students accumulate several field experiences during their freshman through junior year. Each experience will contribute to their professional preparation and may be listed as professional experience on the student's resume.
Three courses comprise the Internship Program:
RST 280 Practicum in Recreation, Sport and Tourism credit: 1 hour (not required but strongly recommended).
This practicum course is a 1-credit course that requires students to complete a minimum of 100 hours over the term/semester with an agency that relates to the field of recreation, sport, and tourism. The course enhances the practicum experience by leading students through assignments that will assist them in reflecting on their learning/working experience. The Job Description must be approved, and the Site Information Form, Vendor Approval, Affiliation Agreement, and Agreement Attachment 1, must be complete prior to the start of the practicum experience. Students should contact the practicum coordinator for specific instructions and recommendations 3-weeks prior to the start date. Approved for S/U grading only. May be repeated if topics vary to a maximum of 3 credit hours.
RST 480 Orientation to Internship credit: 1 credit hour (required).
Prepares and places students in the RST Internship (RST 485). Topics include placement requirements and policies, resume preparation, interviewing skills, acquiring letters of recommendation and the roles and issues of professional practice. 1 undergraduate hour. No graduate credit.
RST 485 Internship in Recreation, Sport or Tourism (Required) credit: 12 Hours (required).
The internship course requires students to complete a minimum of 400 hours over a minimum of 10 weeks with an agency that relates to the RST major. The course is designed to enhance the internship experience by leading students through practical steps that empower them in the learning/working experience. Additionally, students practice skills and concepts presented in academic classes, explore areas of personal and professional interest, and apply problem and conflict solving techniques. 12 undergraduate hours. No graduate credit. Approved for S/U grading only. Prerequisite: RST 100, RST 101, RST 200, RST 210, RST 240, RST 255, RST 325, RST 480, and one of the following - RST 120, RST 130, or RST 150. Restricted to students with Junior or Senior standing. Students may take up to an additional 6-credit hours during RST 485.
Internship search and placement procedures are reviewed as part of the coursework in RST 480 Orientation to Internship (taken prior to the internship). The Internship Coordinator assists students as they search for and secure their RST related internship. All Internships must be approved for placement by the final day of the preceding semester. Specific submission deadlines for approval documents will be posted at the beginning of each semester.
The student engaged in the internship to must arrange for the following:
- Register and pay the appropriate fees as required by the University.
- Complete all coursework required for course credit in RST 485-Internship.
- Make arrangements for housing. Agency supervisors may assist with this task as they are more familiar with the housing situation in their community.
- Attend and complete any training program provided by the agency.
- Adhere to the policies and duties outlined by the agency, meeting all scheduled commitments and arrangements made in connection with training assignments.
- Check with the agency supervisor before any money is expended for program materials.
- Attend periodic conferences with the agency and University supervisors.
- Arrange for personal liability insurance and present proof to the University and the Agency.
- Perform work assignments to the best of ability.
The Agency Supervisor
Given the learning emphasis of the internship, the intern should receive training, supervision, and ongoing evaluation similar to that provided for employees. The Agency Supervisor serves as an agency-based teacher providing instruction and supervision to the intern utilizing the agency's operations to further the student's professional competence. Additionally, the agency assumes responsibilities to meet specific University requirements for the internship including:
- Indicate acceptance of the student as an intern by submitting the Internship Site Information Form.
- Partner with the RST Internship Coordinator in the completion of the Vendor Information Form, Affiliation Agreement, and Agreement Attachment 1, for Internship as required by the University of Illinois for all off campus student practicum placements.
- Consult with the University Internship Coordinator, as necessary, to review the student's progress. These consultations may be conducted in-person (when in Illinois), by phone, electronic and/or mail correspondence.
- Provide support to student as they create internship goals and objectives related to their placement with the purpose of verifying the feasibility of achievement. Goals and objectives that cannot be achieved within the agency should be returned to the student for revision.
- Assist the student in meeting specific agency university requirements through completion of a mid-term and final evaluation of the student to gage progress, adjust goals, and provide professional development opportunity. Review provided evaluation forms with the student and the Internship Coordinator.
- Confer with the student at least once a week to arrange schedules, discuss work performance, and analyze problems.
- Monitor the student to safeguard the quality of the agency's services as well as the student's progress and well-being.
- Inform the student of all personnel policies and procedures and help the student understand their role in the agency.
- Allow the student reasonable freedom so that an adequate learning experience may be experienced.
- Provide necessary program supplies and equipment for activities conducted by interns.
The Internship Coordinator from the University has overall responsibility for the Internship Program. These duties include:
- Serve as a liaison between the Agency and the University.
- Complete the Vendor Request, Affiliation Agreement for Internship, and Agreement Attachment 1, in accordance with University contract requirements for student off-campus placements.
- Supervise arrangements for student and give final approval of all internship placements.
- Monitor the student's experience and be available for consultation with students or agency personnel
- Evaluate the student's written reports and assignments and assist them in completing satisfactory work.
- Visit the student during the student's experience to observe their work and evaluate progress, when feasible. Students who are placed out- of-state are not visited in-person; the student's progress will be monitored by phone, electronic, and/or mail correspondence.
- Assign the student a final grade.
While the University cannot demand that agencies pay interns a wage or a stipend, it is strongly encouraged. University of Illinois interns have performed extremely well for agencies in the past and have an excellent reputation for service. Some interns have performed vitally needed research on topics of interest. Other interns have designed and led programs with great success. With rising costs of tuition, food, and housing, it can be difficult to interns to select sites other than those near their hometowns. Providing compensation often allows for a more appropriate match between the agency and student goals. When compensation is provided, care should be taken to ensure the intern training relationship is that of an educator/trainer and student rather than that of employer and employee.