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About the HOD Internship

What is the HOD Capstone Internship?

The HOD Capstone Internship is the culminating event in the HOD students’ undergraduate experience. The purpose of the HOD Capstone internship is academic and this makes it different from the typical vocational internship. The credit earned is for the coursework that accompanies the internship experience. The internship coursework design allows students an opportunity to apply and strengthen the core competencies of the HOD degree in an organizational setting. It is the ultimate test of whether students can use what they have learned at Vanderbilt on the job and in everyday life. Because the internship coursework builds upon and applies lessons from earlier coursework, student must have completed the HOD core courses and be a second-semester junior to complete the HOD Capstone Internship.

The HOD Capstone Internship is a minimum of 32 hours a week work experience with a weekly three hour faculty-led seminar. For the coursework that accompanies the internship experience, students earn 15 credit hours, 12 credit hours for the shorter summer semester. The capstone internship experience was designed to be a full academic load for that semester to allow students the focus needed to apply the degree competencies. It also allows students to complete their internship with our off-campus programs.

How Are Internships Selected?

The HOD Internship has established internship programs in six cities, each offering an array opportunities across all interest and industry groups. However each city also has its own special focus and appeal. For example:

  • Chicago and New York City cover a broad range of organizations such as finance, youth development, fashion, and media, and advertising.
  • Washington D.C. provides special opportunities to work with government and policy groups.
  • San Francisco provides opportunities in technology and tourism.
  • London, England provides opportunities to work in an international environment
  • Nashville, (Music City) has a wide range of music industry sites as well as healthcare and finance centers

The choice of internship organization is flexible to allow the experience to meet the needs of individual students. While the purpose of this internship is primarily academic, with proper planning this graduation requirement can also help students find a career direction, develop professional skills and competencies, and gain relevant workplace experiences that will help them compete for employment after graduation.

The HOD Internship Office DOES NOT PLACE STUDENTS IN INTERNSHIPS . A networking database with a substantial number of pre-approved internship experiences is made available to students in their search, but the students are ultimately responsible for obtaining their own internship experience. The internship search process mirrors the job search process and students are prepared for this process as part of the HOD core coursework.

How is the Capstone Internship Experience Different?

Because this experience is academic, not vocational, there are several important differences between the HOD Capstone Internship and typical internship, summer job, or co-op experience. The primary difference is the academic focus. Students do perform the work of the organization in the same way they would in any other internship or work experience. However, the vocational learning achieved through the internship is secondary to the academic learning.

To protect the academic integrity of the experience, there are a few restrictions that limit the internship choice:

  • All internships must be approved by HOD Internship Office.
  • Internships must take place in a city where the program has retained Vanderbilt Faculty. 1
  • The internship may not be completed in a family organization or in a setting where an immediate family member or close personal friend are in a position of authority.
  • Students may not perform the internship with organizations they have volunteered with or worked for in the past.
  • The internship must allow students to attend the weekly seminar and complete the required coursework.
  • The internship must be safe and reputable.
  • Because students study the dynamics of their internship organization, the organization must have actual members (not virtual ones) that are physically present every day.
  • For most of the 32 minimum hours, students must be physically present in the internship organization, not out in the field or a client organization. This does not mean you can’t accompany a supervisor on a meeting or work out in the community. But you must be present in the organization to study it. Typically this restriction affects sales and possibly consulting internships.
  • Organizations that demand excessive hours will not be approved. These internships may provide excellent vocational learning but they do not leave adequate time for the internship coursework – the primary purpose of the HOD Capstone Internship.

1See Distance Learning Internships for exceptions to this restriction.

What does the Capstone Internship Coursework Look Like?                                                                                                                                           

Interns are enrolled in four courses designed to bring the theories learned in on-campus courses to bear on real world problems. Through the coursework students are assessed on their ability to demonstrate the overarching goal of the HOD Degree: To prepare students to understand and solve problems in organizations and communities. Each courses has specific learning objectives, coursework and assessments, but they are all compressed into the weekly 3 hour seminar. The coursework associated with each of the courses is the equivalent to the amount of coursework expected in any other Vanderbilt University Course.

  • HOD 4950 - Internship in Human & Organizational Development 
    Activities associated with student's performance at the capstone internship site.
  • HOD 4951 - Advanced Internship Seminar Life-long Learning
    Assesses student's ability to use key theories of human and organizational behavior to understand, evaluate, and respond to personal work experiences.
  • HOD 4952 - Theoretical Applications
    Assesses student's ability to identify and analyze key internal and external factors impacting their organization in order to develop a design statement for a project.
  • HOD 4953 - Senior Project
    Assesses student's ability to develop a process-oriented contribution to their site using human-centered design.