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ESYS Senior Internship Project FAQs

View our handy slideshow for an overview of the ESYS Senior Internship Project guidelines!

How long does the ESYS Senior Internship Project take to complete?

The ESYS Senior Internship Project lasts for a full academic year.  Students begin in Fall quarter and finish in Spring quarter, earning 4 Upper Division units each quarter (12 total).  Fall and Winter quarters are spent completing the “internship” portion of the project (ESYS 190A).  In Spring quarter, students take the Senior Seminar class (ESYS 190B).  Students may not deviate from this schedule except in rare, outstanding circumstances.

Since the ESYS Senior Internship Project takes a full year to complete, students need to plan accordingly.  We recommend meeting with ESYS advisors regularly to ensure student’s plans are appropriate.

When should I be doing the ESYS Senior Internship Project?

The ESYS Senior Internship Project should be undertaken during what you believe will be your last FULL year at UC San Diego. If you’re not sure exactly which quarter you plan to graduate, make sure to come in and speak with an ESYS advisor to develop a plan and decide the most appropriate time to complete the ESYS Senior Internship Project.

Can I start my ESYS Senior Internship Project early?

While it is not uncommon for students to begin work at their internship sites before the start of Fall quarter, students cannot begin earning units or accruing hours toward the 200 hour minimum until Fall quarter begins.  Students must also continue through the entirety of Winter quarter, as you are earning units during that time.

What kinds of things can I do for my ESYS Senior Internship Project?

The projects ESYS Seniors complete are incredibly varied and students do internships in many different places.  We want students to take their best guess at the kinds of jobs they can see themselves doing after graduation, and to find an internship related to that path.  The essential requirements for a valid internship project are listed here.

One of the best resources for finding ideas for an ESYS Senior Internship Project is to see what previous students have done in past years.  Of course, these are just examples and there are certainly new opportunities and projects to be done. 

Will the department assign an internship to me?

No.  Although the ESYS advisors will provide guidance on possible opportunities and work with students on developing connections, students are ultimately responsible for finding their internship.

I’m already involved with an organization/research lab/campus program that has an environmental systems connection.  Can I continue my work there for my ESYS Senior Internship Project?

Probably!  All projects must be approved by the ESYS Associate Director, but we always encourage students to take advantage of opportunities they might already be a part of when deciding what they want to do for their ESYS Senior Internship Project.  It’s not uncommon at all for the ESYS Senior Internship Project to be a continuation of a something students are already working on, provided that the basic guidelines of the ESYS Senior Internship Project are met.

Can I do my ESYS Senior Internship Project off campus? 

Yes!  In fact, almost half of students complete their ESYS Senior Internship Project with an organization not based at UC San Diego.

Can I use a paid internship for ESYS Senior Internship Project?

Yes.  Students can use either paid or unpaid internships for the ESYS Senior Internship Project, as long as the basic requirements of the project are met.  Paid and unpaid internships have their pros and cons, and we want students to find their best fit. 

I want to study abroad.  Can I combine that with my ESYS Senior Internship Project?

Unfortunately no.  Due to the logistics and supervision requirements of the ESYS Senior Internship Project, we do not allow students to complete their projects abroad.  The one exception we have made in the past has been with students participating in the “UC DC” Program. Even in those rare cases, a great deal of planning and approval was required. 

However, we do not want this to dissuade students interested in studying abroad from going.  The ESYS advisors will do their best to work with you to see if studying abroad is feasible within your academic plan.

Who are the Site Supervisor and Faculty Mentor?

Site supervisors oversee the day-to-day responsibilities of the student and are a critical part of internship experience.  The site supervisors provide much of the direct contact, hands-on guidance, and training students will receive.

The Faculty Mentors are UC San Diego Faculty and exist in more of a “big picture” role, assisting student with their project design and developing the focus and deliverables for the Senior Project. They are a great resource for finding research related to your topic.  In some cases, your Site Supervisor and Faculty Mentor might be the same person.  The Faculty Mentor is also responsible for assigning students either a ‘Pass’ or ‘No Pass’ grade at the completion of each quarter of ESYS 190A.  Students are responsible for finding their own Faculty Mentor.

Who can be my Faculty Mentor?

Any UC San Diego faculty with the ability to assign grades/units to undergraduates is eligible to serve as a Faculty Mentor.  Ideally, the Faculty Mentor should be someone with experience in the field related to your ESYS Senior Internship Project topic and/or someone with whom you have an existing relationship (i.e. you’ve taken their course, worked in their lab, etc.). 

How do I submit my Internship Contract Learning Agreement?

  1. Log into InternLink using Student SSO: http://aipinternlink.ucsd.edu/
  2. Fill out all sections and include the given information in the following sections:
    1. Program: Environmental Systems Senior Project
    2. Organization/Position: If the organization is not in the system, enter in the name of the organization into the “New Organization” field
    3. Academic Course: ESYS 190A

*The Learning Agreement can be saved as-you-go, please don’t start a new learning agreement if you need to fill it out over multiple sessions.

  1. Print your saved Learning Agreement
    1. Use the keyboard shortcut for printing if the print button does not appear
      1. PC: Control + P
      2. Mac: Command + P
    2. Submit the electronic version of your Learning Agreement to indicate that you are gathering signatures once it is complete.
    3. Sign your Learning Agreement and gather signatures from your internship Site Supervisor and your UCSD Faculty Mentor.
    4. Submit the signed copy of your Learning Agreement to the ESYS undergraduate advising office.

How do I sign up for ESYS 190A?

Students will not be able to enroll in ESYS 190A until the ESYS advisors receive and approve your ESYS Internship Contract Agreement.  Once we approve your project, you will receive a special Section ID# via email.

Contact Info

Galbraith Hall, 3rd Floor, Rooms 365-368
9500 Gilman Dr.
La Jolla, CA 92093


Office Hours
8am-12pm &

Walk-in Advising:
Mon-Thurs: 10-11:30am & 1:30-3pm

*Tuesday hours will take place at the SIO Campus, Eckart 211*


Current UCSD students: 
Please submit your questions via the VAC. An advisor will respond to you within 1-3 business days.