Field Internships

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Introduction to Field

Students are required to complete two field internships at a program or agency in their local community and work with Social Work Department field office to identify acceptable field sites. The most important objective of the field internships is to prepare students for competent social work practice. Internships enhance learning by providing students with opportunities to integrate and apply theories, research, values, methods and practice skills acquired throughout the curriculum to the reality of work with individuals, families, groups, and communities. Both the internships and concomitant seminars stress the importance of learning to recognize and respect the dignity and worth of diverse client systems regardless of race, color, gender, age, creed, ethnic or national origin, ability, political, or sexual orientation. Below is some important information about the field experience.

  • Field instruction is concurrent with coursework; students are required to take co-requisite Social Work Practice and Field Seminar courses at the same time while interning.
  • During the first field internship students spend two days per week (16hrs) in the field for four e-terms.
  • In the second field internship students spend three days each week (24hrs) in the field for four e-terms.
  • Based on student and agency need, some flexibility in the day and time may be possible; however, there are no placements on the weekend
  • Students in their first internship are placed in settings that enable them to obtain generalist practice skills, while second field internships are in agencies that offer opportunities to learn Advanced Generalist skills.

Employer Agency Option

The employer agency option permits students to complete one of the two required internships at their place of employment provided the placement meets specific criteria outlined below and is approved by the Social Work Department. A written proposal must be submitted by the student, or student with the agency, to the field coordinator before approval can be granted describing the proposed differences in assignments, duties, and supervision.

  • The employer agency and field supervisor must meet the basic requirements for all field internships including Generalist Practice Standards.
  • Internship hours (two days the first placement, three days the second placement) must be arranged in a new and different department, unit, or program of the agency than that in which the student is employed.
  • Clients and assignments must be essentially new and different, employing substantially new and different skills than used on the job.
  • The field supervisor must be someone other than the supervisor to whom the student has been, and is, accountable for the remainder of the agency assignment.
  • Assignments in the field must be educationally appropriate.

MSW Field Manual

For more information on field internships including major policies and procedures, and the rights and responsibilities of the school, field agencies, and students, please review the current MSW Field Manual.

Frequently Asked Questions About Field

Can I work full-time and be a MSW student?

No and yes. If you have flexibility in your work place, meaning working evenings or weekends is an option, then yes. If you work a regular 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday job, with no flexibility, then no. Based on student and agency need, some flexibility in the day and time is possible, but remember that most of the agencies we place in are only open or fully staffed Monday through Friday during daytime hours. Additionally, an intern may not structure his/her internship by only working in the evenings or weekends. As students, it is important to participate in the full range of activities in an agency. Since most agencies are not fully functioning on the weekends or evenings this cannot occur then.

What is the internship placement process?

Once a student is accepted into the program he or she will receive a field internship application that must be completed and submitted to the Social Work Department field coordinator. The field coordinator reviews all applications and contacts agencies in students' geographic area to assess agency interest as well as appropriateness for placement. Students may develop a list of possible placements to share with the field coordinator in their geographic area, however, students do not contact agencies directly. The field coordinator facilitates all internship placement efforts in order to prevent duplication of efforts.

Do I have to interview for an internship?

Yes, though your field internship will be an educational assignment you will interview with the agency. Prepare for your interview as you would for a job interview. Read everything about the agency you can find, prepare your questions for them, and be prepared for questions they may ask you. Dress appropriate to the setting, as you would for a job interview, and bring a hard copy of your resume to face-to-face interviews.

Will I get my choice of internship site or population?

Field coordinators work very hard at making a good match for students, however, there are no guarantees that a student will recieve his or her choice of placement or population. There are many factors that go into placement decisions, including your educational and work experience, your future work interests, as well as the geographic area you live in and the availability of social service placements in that area. Potential placement availability fluctuate on a regular basis. Students in the program are encouraged to ask questions and engage with the field coordinators thoughout the internship placement process.

How far will I have to travel?

Most MSW students, depending on where they live, travel up to an hour to their placement. Much of this is determined by the geographic area (rural vs. urban, saturation of social service agencies employing MSW’s, etc.). Students should consider this when budgeting for their graduate school expenses.