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Internship in Statistics

The Internship in Statistics course (STAT 5754) is a variable credit (from 1 to 3 hours) course, to be taken by statistics students who intern at an appropriate company or government agency performing statistical analysis under supervision of a corporate, or government, affiliate faculty member.  The Internship in Statistics course may also be taken by students working on an approved data-based grant project in another department on campus or on an interdisciplinary grant project involving statistics and another department on campus. In this case, the affiliate faculty member will be the student’s supervisor on the project. This will be an optional course that may be taken for credit once by undergraduate or masters students, and twice by doctoral students.

The course will be graded on the A-F scale, where grades are assigned on the basis of an evaluation of the work performed on the job, a written report, and a seminar. The affiliate faculty supervisor will make the evaluation of job performance. The written report and the seminar will provide a detailed, technical presentation of at least one project completed during the internship. Both the written report and the seminar will be presented to the corporation, or government agency or other department, (evaluated by the affiliate faculty member) and to the Department of Statistics at Virginia Tech (evaluated by the student’s internship mentor, a faculty member in the department who has agreed, at the request of the student, to evaluate the student’s oral presentation and written report); the seminar will be scheduled in the outreach series. The written report must be approved by the internship mentor prior to presentation of either seminar. The final grade will be a combination of these two evaluations determined by the student’s internship mentor.

The written report and the seminar must be presented within the first month of the completion of the internship. Typically, this will be in the semester immediately following completion of internship responsibilities. Students will register for this Internship Course in the term when they submit their written report and present their seminar, not during the period of internship.

It is envisioned that the internship course can be applied in a variety of ways. For example, an undergraduate student might intern prior to his or her junior or senior years. A student with a B.S. degree in statistics can intern prior to the beginning of the M.S. program. A graduate student could intern after the first year of courses in the M.S. program. A Ph.D. student could intern several times.

For the M.S. student, one intern course will count up to three hours toward the 35 hours required for the M.S. degree. For the Ph.D. student, up to six hours of intern credit may be counted towards the doctorate. In this case, the two sets of hours for intern credit must occur in separate semesters. With these restrictions, the department is not limiting the amount of time a student may work as an intern, but limiting the number of credits of intern work that may be counted toward a degree.

Full credit for the internship is considered to be one credit hour for each month of full-time intern experience or equivalent. A summer internship is worth up to three credits. Similarly, a seven-month internship (from January to August, for example) is worth up to six credits. To receive full credit on the basis of time, it is expected that a B.S. student perform B.S. level statistics while working as an intern and an M.S. student and a Ph.D. student perform graduate level work. The required report and seminar should reflect the level of work performed by the student during the internship. If the internship is structured with a corporate faculty affiliate, who monitors the work, insuring that the internship is a true learning experience for the student and proper oral and written presentations are satisfactory, then it is reasonable to give the full credit based on time. Otherwise, less than full credit may be given. For example, a Ph.D. student who only performs routine data analysis using SAS will likely received less than full credit even if these tasks were performed in a highly satisfactory manner.

It is the student’s responsibility to find a faculty sponsor for the internship who will serve as advisor and mentor throughout. The student must convince his or her mentor of the suitability of the proposal internship prior to its inception, and of the appropriateness of the work accomplished at the internship’s completion. Regular communication with the faculty mentor is expected.

The Internship Course should be approved by the student’s advisor and the affiliate faculty member, both in terms of the expected number of credits and the expected level of work required by the intern, prior to the internship. The actual number of credits earned for the intern experience may be higher or lower than the expected amount, depending on the actual work performed during the internship.