Sociology Internships: Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is an internship?
An internship is a supervised learning experience and is one type of experiential learning available to sociology majors and minors. It is a supervised and planned learning-work experience for credit. You will develop a learning contract which specifies work responsibilities and learning goals (skills, knowledge and application of sociology) to be gained.
- Why participate in an internship?
"What can I do with a sociology major?"
By preparing for and completing an internship, you can answer this question for yourself. An internship gives you an opportunity to apply and further develop skills and knowledge gained in a classroom setting. You can assess and reflect upon your strengths and interests as they might apply to careers, graduate education and your personal development. Interns can ask supervisors for job references and recommendations. Although completing an internship does not guarantee a job, some students do get job offers from their internship sites. For example, a significant number of the students who have completed internships in recent years have been offered full, part-time or temporary jobs at their internship sites.
- How is an internship evaluated?
Sociology internships are graded based on progress toward goals established in the learning contract and the student's performance. While the faculty advisor determines the final grade, field supervisors and student interns are asked to recommend a grade. Students take the internship very seriously and perform well, receiving high evaluations from their supervisors. An internship is much more demanding than a volunteer experience and must be thought of as similar to a job in terms of the time and performance expected.
- How and when do I apply for an internship?
You should plan for an internship when you plan the last two years of your program. Apply for an internship a least one semester in advance. The most popular times to complete an internship are during summer and spring sessions, so if you apply in advance, you will be eligible for competitive placements in probation and human resources, for example. You will attend an internship informational session held each semester and then work with the internship supervisor to identify appropriate placement possibilities. You will explore several possible sites before choosing where you will intern. The internship advisor must approve your internship in advance.
- Will the Sociology Program place me in an internship?
The sociology internship advisor will help you to assess your interests and explore possible sites. The Sociology Program has a listing of places where sociology students have completed internships. You can do an internship in a wide range of settings from corrections, market research, advocacy, program administration, human resources, social change and management training. Many students are asked to develop research projects such as a survey of older persons' satisfaction with nutrition programs or needs assessments. A recent intern worked to develop a new program on educating the public about Medicare fraud.
It is important that you explore several possibilities before committing to an organization. Finding an internship is similar to looking for a job. You want to make the best match in order to maximize your learning. A good internship experience can help you assess your strengths and how they fit with future employment settings. You will want to consider an internship with an organization which is compatible with your own values, personal growth and career interests. It is important that you look at several possibilities to make the best match between your interests and the goals of the organization. You may use any contacts and "pull" you might have as you explore your interests.
- Are internships for seniors only?
Most students complete internships during their senior year and often during the semester they graduate. This practice makes you eligible for jobs which may open up during this time, as students usually look for jobs while completing their internships. Some students choose to complete some sort of experiential or volunteer learning in their sophomore or junior years in order to explore career possibilities or to meet specific educational goals before completing an internship.
- Do I need a resume to apply?
Yes. Many employers expect you to apply for an internship and ask for a letter, resume and interview. Our program requires you to interview 2-3 internship sites as part of the process of looking for an internship. You are required to revise your resume at the end of the internship to include your internship experience. You may also ask your field supervisor for feedback on your resume.
- Do you earn credit hours with an internship?
Sociology internships range from 6 to 15 semester credits (37.5 hours of work on-site per academic credit). You are encouraged to consider full time internships of 15 credits because you will spend more time on-site, learn more and be given greater responsibilities. The more time spent on-site the more the learning. Keep in mind that only 6 credits of sociology internship (SOC 444) may be applied to your major. The remaining credits may be used as general electives toward graudation.
- Are there any prerequisites for an internship?
Yes, SOC 480, Sociological Practice, is a prerequisite, or permission of the faculty internship coordinator. For students with a concentration in Applied Sociology, an internship is required (SOC 480 and 456, Complex Organizations, are also required). Students should also have completed their emphasis area courses.
- Does an internship need to be completed in St. Cloud? In Minnesota?
No. Internships may be completed in St. Cloud, the Twin Cities, greater Minnesota or in another state. Students have recently completed internships in cities such as Duluth, Marshall, International Falls, Brainerd, Willmar, Monticello, Anoka, and Burnsville as well as St. Cloud. Students have also made special arrangements and completed internships in Utah for the State Parole Board, in a prison setting in Virginia, and in Human Resources in Australia. The location of the internship is determined by student needs and interests as well as opportunities.
- Where do I begin looking for an internship?
Your internship should be related to your emphasis area, minor or other supporting educational experience. You should start thinking about your internship during your sophomore or junior year and discuss your interests with your advisor and the internship faculty coordinator. You might consider doing volunteer work in order to check out an organization or interest area. You are encouraged to follow up leads from friends, family and instructors but keep in mind that your friend's successful internship may not be the right experience for you. One of the assignments in the Sociological Practice class (SOC 480) is to conduct informational interviews with people working in jobs of interest to you. Students often get leads from these interviews. You can also check the bulletin board in the hallway outside of the sociology faculty offices or the Career Services Office in the Administrative Services Office.