In continuation with the previous article Internship Report, there are few more important things that have to be concentrated while preparing an internship report. They are as follows:
- Global Mechanics
- Cover Page
- Section Headings
Of course, reports should always be typed, using double-spaced type, one side of the page only, on 8-1/2 x 11 paper. Use a point size of 10-12 and a highly readable font such as Times. Include page numbers on all pages after page 1. Use a laser printer to print off the final version of your report.
Just as in a professional paper, any tables and figures should be numbered consecutively throughout the text, and if many figures and tables appear then separate lists of them at the beginning of the report would be wise. Tables and figures should always have descriptive captions, and if they come directly from sources, the sources must be specifically credited in the captions with the same citation style that you use throughout the report. Use an appendix to attach any important related materials, but only if these materials are highly illuminating or were used directly to write the report.
Typically, you are expected to supply a cover page giving such details as the title of your report, the type of report, your name, your major, and the complete name, address, website, and phone number of the employing organization. It is important that your cover page be thoroughly detailed, but that you do not let the presentation of detail be overwhelming to look at. Organize and balance your information on the cover page with aesthetics in mind, favoring centered text and skipped lines between each separate detail. Also, consider using a table of contents page, especially if your report includes many section headings or is more than, say, eight pages in length.
It is important that your report include an appropriate title. Again, look to any report guidelines you have been given for particulars, but remember that your title should be logical, informational, and professional, and should reflect the type of document that your report represents. Even a generic title such as “Internship Report” is more appropriate than an idiosyncratic, cutesy one such as “My Headache with Bayer Corporation.”
Since most professional reports require an abstract—a condensed summary of the report’s contents—it is logical for you to include one with your report as well. In published reports, more people will read the abstract than any other part of the paper, so its utility is critical. The abstract is always self-contained, and is normally presented as a separate page and in a single paragraph. By necessity, abstracts are often written last.
The best report abstracts do these things, typically in this order:
- briefly summarize the purpose of the report;
- summarize the specific nature of your work assignment;
- provide basic information about the employer;
- point the reader towards the conclusions of the report, which might in this case be your evaluation of the experience.
The style of abstracts is grounded in economy and information. Sentences should be kept short but detailed. You could use the pronoun “I” to refer to yourself in the abstract, but in general a straightforward and objective tone should be maintained.
A short excerpt from the opening of an internship report abstract follows:
This report outlines the duties of a summer intern at BMC Corporation in New Brunswick, NJ, and highly recommends the internship to other students. BMC Corporation includes over 50 manufacturing facilities in three states. I worked in the Per oxygen Chemicals Division.
The content and length of the introduction vary based on your report guidelines, but as a rule introductions are meant to spark the reader’s interest by providing basic background relevant to the report. As you write your introduction, remember that you should create immediate context, ideally with individual style. You have a story to tell, and the introduction is your chance to get the reader interested in that story. Note in the following excerpt from a report introduction how the writer even begins with a creative, personal tone to invite the reader’s attention:
From the White House to the home of Steven Spielberg to elementary school classrooms, Lutron Electronics’ lighting controls manage the visual environment of millions of buildings all over the globe. Lutron’s products form one of the largest markets in the lighting industry throughout the world, ranging from a simple wall box dimmer to a complex computerized system controlling all the lights of a coliseum.
From May to August 2008, I worked at Lutron as a summer intern. My responsibilities included.
In any report more than a few pages long, section headings are always a good idea. Just by considering the section headings in a report, the reader can determine the report’s organization and content. For the writer, thoroughly worded section headings help you to control, limit, and organize your thinking within each section.
To generate your section headings in the body of your report, you can begin by turning to any report guidelines with which you have been provided. For instance, if you are asked in your report guidelines to consider whether the position truly utilizes your technical background, you might create a section heading such as “Technical Background Necessary for Position.” Compose section headings that have a clear relationship to one another and tell the story of the entire report.
The following section headings from a co-op report demonstrate both the specificity and the narrative nature of good section headings:
Introduction to My Co-op
Overview of Bayer Corporation
Overview of My New Martinsville Co-op Experience
Computer-Simulated Process Control: the Camile Tg Software Package
The Use of Mid-IR to Monitor Reaction Extent
Conclusion and Personal Evaluation of Bayer
The content of your conclusion might be made up entirely of your personal evaluation of the internship/co-op. However, it is also appropriate to give an overview of the report or to highlight something that you learned in writing the report. For instance, some students use the conclusion to review the key terminology that was used throughout the report and note how this key terminology now has practical applications for them. In short, you can use the conclusion to show how the work experience changed you.
Remember too that a conclusion can be a substantial portion of a report—perhaps several pages long. This makes it even more important for you to rely on specifics, not generalities. Avoid generic unsupported conclusions such as “The internship was a positive experience for me and it was very beneficial too.” Instead, present evidence to prove your claims—provide examples, scenarios, lists, names, dates, emotions, labels, terminology. Do not skimp on detail.
As you write your conclusion, concentrate on presenting the bottom line, and think of the word’s definition: a conclusion is an articulated conviction arrived at on the basis of the evidence presented.
An acknowledgments section, normally on a separate page with the heading “Acknowledgments,” could be included at the beginning or end of your report. The style for this section is often highly personal, and your job is to recognize briefly any individuals or organizations that contributed directly to the completion of your internship or co-op through financial support, technical assistance, critique, or personal commitment.