Food Studies Program

Internships: For Host Sites

  • Wanting more information about becoming a host site? Start here.
  • Already an established host site and looking for your resources? Start here.


Overview of Internships

The USM Food Studies Internship Program is an intentionally-designed learning experience that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a food-based professional setting with a host community partner. The Food Studies Internship Program provides an opportunity for students to develop and practice skills such as leadership, entrepreneurship, marketing and finance, policy analysis, advocacy and organizing, and oral and written communication. It also gives students the opportunity to make connections in food-based professional fields being considered for career paths, while giving employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.

All internships must take place in Maine and require a minimum of 150 hours worked. Undergraduate and graduate students will earn 3 credits for their internship. All Food Studies Program interns are employees of the University of Southern Maine and are paid $14/hour.



How do I post an internship position for students to view?

  • Put together a job description that includes the following:
    • A brief (1-2 paragraph) overview of your organization;
    • A generalized job description (2-3 paragraphs); and
    • A project outline listing the project(s) you would like an intern to work on, including work plan activities and associated deliverables. The project outline can be simple, such as bullet points or a table. Sites can submit as many potential projects as they’d like. If you are flexible and willing to customize the project and work plan to meet interns’ goals and utilize their skills, say so. Proposed projects/work plans can be updated each semester as needed.
  • All internship positions that are eligible for payment through Food Studies Program should be posted on USM's digital job board. A host site must create an Employer account. Once this account has been verified, you can add and manage your opportunities as they come available. This includes internships, part-time, and full-time employment opportunities.
  • The USM Job Board is a good way to share opportunities with the whole student body, and most Food Studies Program students find their internships posted there. If you add the following statement to the position descriptions before you post them on the Job Board, it may help you recruit a student: Please note that undergraduate students minoring in Food Studies who have met the prerequisite of having  successfully completed two FSP courses and graduate students who have met the prerequisite of having successfully completed one FSP course may be eligible to be paid at $14/hour and/or receive credit through the Food Studies Program. Some exceptions might be made for students taking prerequisite courses simultaneously with the internship course. Please specify the need for an exception when applying. 
  • Send any other materials that you would like Internship Coordinator and interns to see, such as organizational and program brochures.
  • If you have questions at any time during the process, or want to know what types of projects might be a good fit for an intern, please see Lindsey Freeman in the Career Hub.


What is an internship?

  • Internships are a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting.
  • The Food Studies Program internships are credit-bearing and are paid. Each internship includes a structured learning plan with learning objectives, opportunities for reflection, and an assessment.
  • Internships give employers in the field the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.


What type of work does an intern do?

  • Internships are a balance between the goals of the student intern and the host site’s needs. Therefore, internships should advance the operations of the host site while equally prioritizing the learning objectives of the student.
  • Interns should not displace a regular employee and should not involve work that a regular employee would normally perform.
  • Interns should be invited to participate in staff meetings, team meetings, and other events that provide professional networking opportunities.
  • Interns should perform tasks that correlate directly to their learning goals.



When and how often does an intern work?

  • Most internships start at the beginning of each semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer) and last the duration of the semester. Fall and Spring semesters last approximately 15 weeks and the Summer semester lasts approximately 14 weeks.
  • Students are required to work a minimum of 50 hours per credit earned.
  • Most internships last one semester: 15 weeks, averaging 10-12 hours per week, with the student receiving 3 credits.
  • Some interns, especially those in Social Work and those working over Summer, apply for additional funding and average 16-20 hours per week.
  • Some internships are designed to last for two semesters, averaging 10-12 hours per week, and ranging from 4-6 credits earned (depending on total hours worked).
  • Some internships are designed to support symposia, conferences, convocation, and other local food events and activities. These internships average 3-4 hours per week, with the week of the event increasing to 20+ hours. These students earn 1-2 credits.


What types of organizations can host an intern?

  • Host sites must be located in Maine. An out-of-state organization can apply if the internship is based in Maine and focuses on Maine’s food system.
  • Sites that support multiple sectors of the food system are preferred. An example of this would be a farm that, in addition to operating a CSA, also accepts SNAP, grows food for a pantry, or participates in local or regional networks in which the intern can participate.
  • Work that supports more than one business/organization is preferable. An example of this would be a non-profit that supports nutrition education, school/community gardens, runs a mobile market that sources from multiple vendors, and participates in a state-wide community of practice.
  • Students will not be placed in organizations that operate out of private homes.


What are the roles and responsibilities of a host site?

  • Please see the Host Site Resources below for a complete listing of responsibilities.


What are the costs associated with hosting an intern?

  • Interns are considered employees of USM and are paid hourly wages by USM.
  • Currently host sites are not asked to contribute toward an intern’s wages; however, in the future we anticipate having a cost-share requirement.
  • Host sites cover all other costs associated with the interns' expenses such as office space, travel reimbursement, and meals at meetings.
  • Hosts sites must make time for supervision and for providing constructive feedback to interns.


What qualities make a good internship position and host site?


When will I be assigned an intern?

  • Students apply for an internship through the Food Studies Program website.
  • If they are approved, they meet with the Internship Coordinator and Program Specialist to identify their learning goals and review the portfolio of potential host sites. This portfolio is where all of the materials requested above end up.
  • Several host sites are then identified for the student to consider, and the student identifies a first chose and second choice site and communicates back to the Internship Coordinator and Program Specialist.
  • The Internship Coordinator and Program Specialist reaches out to the potential host site that the student has identified as his/ her first choice to determine if there is an appropriate match. If there is not a match then the second choice host site will be contacted. Please note that potential hosts sites are not guaranteed an intern. Students must select the site in order for a match to be made.
  • Once a match is determined, the FSP team begins to move forward with the administrative details, such as the Educational Affiliation agreement.
  • This is the point at which the Learning Agreement is developed and signed (see above). Once all of the paperwork is completed and the semester starts, it’s a go!


How do I get more info?

  • If your internship fits the FSP criteria, you can begin the process by submitting your materials and/or by contacting Lindsey Freeman in the Career Hub to discuss your ideas in more detail.
  • If your internship does not fit the criteria needed for the Food Studies Program, we are still interested in helping you find a qualified USM student for your opportunity. We can post your position via the USM Job Board and distribute notice of the internship to appropriate departments and programs. Contact the Career and Employment Hub at (207) 228-8091 for assistance.


Host Site Resources