Women's Studies Intership Program
In addition to the field placement, students are required to participate in a weekly three-hour, three-credit, seminar. This integrative seminar is designed to provide students with a forum for situating their work experience within a broader context. A portion of each class is devoted to discussions in which insights gained from students' field experiences are viewed from the perspective of their academic training. Prerequisite: One women's studies course and consent of instructor is required. Open only to WS majors and minors.
Please note: Beginning with Fall 2010, the WS Internship Program will be offered only during the Fall semester as opposed to both Fall and Spring. This change will be in effect for the foreseeable future.
For more information contact:
phone: (860) 486-1133
fax: (860) 486-4789
The ProcessWomen's Studies Internship is a required course for Women's Studies majors but is also open to WS minors. The pre-requisite is one Women's Studies course in any field. By special arrangements, the pre-requisite may be met by taking another Women's Studies course concurrently with the internship. However, students should have some academic or experiential understanding of Women's Studies before enrolling in this program.
Getting StartedTo participate in Women's Studies Internship, students must first make an appointment to meet with the Internship Coordinator. This initial meeting is best arranged at least one semester prior to the time of the desired internship. Prospective interns are asked to evaluate interests, talents, and career goals when considering possible field placements. With nearly 100 intern request forms on file, in a wide variety of fields and locations, students have the opportunity to choose an internship which can best meet their individual needs. Once a potential field placement has been selected, the student is responsible for contacting the supervisor and making an appointment to be interviewed.
Seminar and InternshipOnce a placement has been secured, the student must obtain the consent of the Internship Coordinator before registering for WS 3891 (internship, 3, 6, or 9 credits) and WS 3894 (3 credit seminar). These courses, though integrated, are graded independently. The purpose of the internship is to encourage and support students in their pursuit of experience, in a field of their choice, while enabling them to develop survival skills to compete in a difficult job market. The seminar is designed to provide a forum for putting work experience into a broader context while providing support and encouragement for interns. Students who have completed this program in the past have described it as a "challenging, powerful, and a priceless opportunity".
The InternshipThe internship is designed to enable students to gain experience and confidence while working in a career setting of their choice. The field placement is evaluated on work performance, understanding of responsibilities, and ability to assess progress. Students and field supervisors are required to complete several evaluation forms at various times throughout the semester. The purpose of these documents is to maintain maximum clarity regarding responsibilities and expectations among interns, their supervisors, and the Internship Coordinator.
Hours and CreditsThe variable credit for WS 3891 depends upon the number of hours students choose to work at their particular placement. Interns discuss the possible range of work hours with prospective supervisors to insure that the number of hours desired by the student are appropriate for a specific internship. Students are required to work a total of 117 hours for 3 credits, 156 hours for 6 credits, or 234 hours for 9 credits. Although some placements have a more flexible work schedules than others, most interns work 9, 12, or 18 hours per week for 13 weeks to fulfill the time requirements. By structuring work commitments within a 13 week time frame, students are able to allow for time off during Thanksgiving or Spring vacation, if approved in advance by individual supervisors. Whatever work pattern is agreed upon by the intern and supervisor will be approved by the Internship Coordinator as long as the total number of required hours are completed by the end of the semester. Interns are considered employees, paid in credits rather money, who are expected to be punctual and reliable. All interns are expected to contact their supervisors if it is ever necessary for them to be absent or late.
Interns are expected to provide thoughtful and timely completion of all assignments described below. Written assignments for the internship portion of this program include: a background paper, a midterm analysis, and a final evaluation of the placement organization; a field work project; a field work journal; and a resume.
Background PaperAt the beginning of the semester interns are required to complete a 2-3 page paper which describes the history, structure, funding sources, and purpose of the organization for which they work. This paper contains as much detail as possible, including any materials which the organization produces about itself. Interns are encouraged to describe how their position fits within the structure of the organization as well as the names, titles, and responsibilities of those employees with whom they work.
Midterm AnalysisInterns are required to write a 2-3 pages paper discussing their perceptions of the placement after half a term's work. They are asked to describe how they would revise/expand their background paper in light of their placement experience. Students are also required to complete a midterm evaluation of their progress at their placement, "Form B". Supervisors are provided with comparable forms on which to evaluate interns progress. Once these forms are completed, we recommend that interns and supervisors discuss what they have written, evaluate what progress has been made, and specify what remains to be accomplished during the remaining weeks of the semester. Both supervisor and student evaluation forms are returned to the Program Coordinator at the conclusion of such discussions.
Final EvaluationInterns are required to complete a final report which includes: 1) a description of work accomplished; 2) a summary of what has been learned; 3) an assessment of how initial goals were met or altered; 4) an appraisal of how the internship "fit" with the rest of their academic education; 5) an overview of what they have learned regarding feminism; and 6) an evaluation of the placement itself. In addition, students are asked to describe any ways in which they believe their particular field placement could be improved and to explain why they would or would not recommend that organization to future interns.
JournalInterns are required keep a journal which includes a daily account of the work they do at their placement together with their thoughts and feelings regarding that work. The journal should include observations and analysis of placement operations and their relation to any larger issues which pertain to seminar assignments or discussions. Similarly, students are asked to write in their journal after each seminar so that they may further explore their insights regarding the connections they are making between assigned material and their internships and/or their personal lives. Journals are primarily for students to write about how they are integrating the academic and experiential aspects of their Women's Studies Internship experience. However, interns are encouraged to use their journals in whatever ways seem to be most helpful to them. All journals are collected, and read by the Program Coordinator, three times during the semester.
Internship ProjectInterns are required complete a specific project at their field placement which is decided upon through consultation with field supervisors. Ideally, the project should provide some substantial contribution to the sponsoring organization. A description of the proposed project, its purpose, its value to the organization, and a tentative time table for completion are submitted to the Program Coordinator early in the semester. At the end of the term, students turn in a copy of the project together with a description of how it was completed and how it is intended to benefit the organization. Interns are encouraged to make note of any strengths or shortcomings recognized in the process of completing the project. Examples of previous field projects include: conducting a research project; organizing a support group; developing an educational workshop for college women; conducting a needs assessment of the elderly residents of a community; interviewing women for a centennial booklet; comprising a list of all available services within a particular area; developing and presenting a training seminar; coordinating college volunteers to work with at-risk adolescents.
ResumeStudents are required to produce a formal resume', in which the internship experience is an integral part, before the end of the term. Half of one seminar class will be devoted to the art of resume' writing and interviewing.
ConfidentialityStudent interns are often given access to information about their organization which is not necessarily public. Interns are expected to respect the level of confidentiality required by their particular placement. Supervisors who treat interns as professionals expect that they have the degree of maturity and training necessary to be worthy of such trust.
SupervisionIn exchange for the work interns accomplish they have the right to expect adequate supervision and training from the sponsoring organization. Although form and substance of such supervision varies greatly from situation to situation, student interns have the right to expect at least weekly meetings with their supervisors and on going assistance from co-workers, whenever applicable. Interns often find it helpful to set a specific time for supervisory meetings. Supervisors are there to assure not only that interns work, but also that they learn. It is the responsibility of each supervisor to insure interns have the necessary skills and training to carry out assigned tasks. It is the responsibility interns to ask for what they needed. If interns believe they need more direct supervision or a more structured work environment, they need to inform their supervisors as soon as possible. While part of the purpose of this program is to help students become more independent, it is important that part of that process involve learning to negotiate how to acquire necessary skills and confidence. If students do not ask questions, supervisors have every reason to assume that the assigned work will be accomplished and that the intern does not need help.
ProfessionalismIn exchange for the supervision and experience which students receive, supervisors can expect interns to behave in a professional manner appropriate to the setting. Once interns arrive at their placement, they are no longer "just a student". They are expected to be professional in terms of dress, telephone manners, written work, accuracy, reliability, punctuality, attendance, and commitment. Interns are expected to be well organized in order to complete all assigned work. Having an exam the next day is not an adequate excuse for not carrying out a placement responsibility. The internship and academic work should take equal priority, which means being responsible for completing both on time.
HelpThe role of the Women's Studies Internship Coordinator is to act as advocate and mentor for interns. It is imperative that students do not hesitate to speak with her immediately if anything is bothering them. Interns are encouraged not to put off addressing difficult situations or concerns. Often, feeling "under-utilized" is just as much a problem as feeling over-worked or misunderstood or under-supervised. It is important to deal with all issues and potential problems as they occur. Students must remember that the internship program is designed to enhance their education but it is their responsibility to see to it that they get what they need.
The ContractIt is crucial that supervisors and interns spend ample time discussing their respective expectations and responsibilities for a particular field placement. At the beginning of the semester students are given a contract, "Form A", which is designed to serve as an agreement between the supervisor and intern. When completed, this agreement should outline clear and specific time requirements, tasks, and goals. The terms of the contract may be re-negotiated at any point during the semester as long as the Internship Coordinator is notified of the alterations. We encourage students to talk with their supervisors if they find themselves becoming dissatisfied in any way. We ask supervisors to do the same and to please contact the Women's Studies Internship Coordinator if they encounter any problems.
Supervision and EvaluationIt is important that the students receive reasonably close and consistent supervision. Although the type and degree of such supervision obviously varies among placements and interns, we recommend that supervisors meet with interns at least weekly to discuss progress and to answer any questions. Approximately half-way through the semester supervisors are sent a midterm evaluation, "Form B". At the same time, interns will be provided with comparable forms on which to evaluate their progress. Once these forms are completed, we recommend that supervisors and students discuss what they have written, evaluate what progress has been made, and specify what remains to be accomplished before the end of the semester. Both supervisor and student evaluation forms are returned to the Internship Coordinator at the conclusion of such discussions. Toward the end of the semester, each supervisor will be sent a final evaluation, "Form C", on which to evaluate the student's work and to recommend a final grade. It is imperative that these forms be returned by the specified date in order for the student to receive an internship grade at the appropriate time.
AttendanceInterns are assigned to placements for 13 weeks to work 9, 12, or 18 hours per week, depending upon the number of credits they have elected for the placement (3, 6, or 9). In some placements the actual number of hours may vary from week to week, but students must complete a total of 117, 156, or 234 hours by the end of the semester. Students are not required to work during regular university vacations (Thanksgiving, spring break), but they may choose to do so. Interns are given credit for working on state holidays, snow days, etc. if they fall on scheduled work days. Expectations regarding attendance must be clearly defined. Students are responsible for notifying their immediate supervisor if they will be absent or late. We ask that supervisors give interns adequate notice any time they are expected to work at times other than their regularly scheduled hours (for example, to attend a special meeting, conference, or hearing). As with regular employees, students have commitments (other courses, jobs, family responsibilities) in addition to their internships which may make it difficult or impossible for them to change their plans without advance notice.
Working ConditionsAll interns are expected to be provided with a reasonable place in which to work. If the intern is dependent upon other workers for access to a building or office, this should be arranged in advance. Occasionally interns are placed in potentially awkward positions by their unique status. They are not regular employees but they are also not volunteers. Most interns are vitally interested in the way the organization operates and committed to making valuable contributions. Students have, at times, reported feeling simultaneously responsible and powerless. There may be circumstances when an intern is uncertain as to whether to take over a project or to wait for an employee to initiate such work. We ask supervisors to be particularly sensitive to such situations and to provide guidance which can help to smooth the way. Clarity of responsibilities is essential not only between supervisor and student but also between intern and co-workers.
Work AssignmentsThe purpose of Women's Studies Intersnhip Program is to give students pre-graduation experience in a field they think they will enter. Interns benefit from work assignments which are pertinent to their long term goals and provide them with an opportunity to learn as much as possible about the way their placement organization functions. Discussions pertaining to the work itself and the possible careers in their specific area of interest are most beneficial. The program is designed to offer students experience in their particular field of study while supplying agencies with talented interns. While almost all organizations can benefit from such an experience, it is of paramount importance that students be provided with a worthwhile and meaningful work environment. Although it may occasionally be necessary for interns to help out with those tasks associated with unskilled, underpaid labor (such as, stuffing envelops, running errands) that should be the exception rather than the rule. It is often helpful for students to have the opportunity to explore as many aspects of a particular placement as time and circumstances permit. If there are brief periods of time when interns are not busy with assigned responsibilities, it is recommended that supervisors arrange for them to meet with other people in the organization to discuss their work. This type of exposure often helps students to clarify career options and to make comparisons between various aspects of a particular field.
Field ProjectEach student is required to work on a specific project for the internship. The purpose of this project is to provide the placement organization with some tangible benefit from sponsoring an intern and to give the student a concentrated focus and sense of accomplishment. During the initial weeks of the semester it is important that the supervisor and intern determine exactly what that project will be. The intern must submit a description of the proposed project by the third week o f classes. Occasionally the scope of the project needs to be adjusted during the course of the placement. If this occurs, the student is responsible for submitting a revised project plan. Examples of previous field projects include: conducting a research project; organizing a support group; developing an educational workshop for college women; conducting a needs assessment of the elderly residents of a community; interviewing women for a centennial booklet; comprising a list of all available services within a particular area; developing and presenting a training seminar; coordinating college volunteers to work with at-risk adolescents. There have been instances in which interns have worked on projects that could not be completed within their tenure at the placement. In such cases, students have been given some portion of the project which could be undertaken and completed within the time constraints of a one-semester placement.
Other Student ResponsibilitiesIn addition to whatever written work is required of interns at their individual field placements, throughout the semester students are expected to write several papers regarding what they are learning from their experience. At the beginning of the semester, students write a background paper which describes their particular placement organization, including goals, funding sources, and structure. Later in the semester students are required to write a midterm analysis which discusses insights and perceptions of the placement after half a term's work. The students' final evaluation paper encourages them to summarize what they have learned about themselves, their career goals, and their academic training. Students are required to keep a journal which is used to help integrate the academic with experiential. Journals are used to record daily work, detail of tasks completed, summarize meetings attended, in addition to writing thoughts, feelings, insights, and questions. The journal is read only by the Internship Coordinator. We think it is important for students to write about their work in an attempt to better understand it, however, all interns are instructed in the issue of confidentiality and we trust that this is reinforced within each particular placement. All interns participate in a weekly three-hour seminar. Although the internship and seminar are both integral parts of the Internship Program, they are two separate courses which are graded separately and given different, though related, assignments. Each week students read a variety of books and articles and write brief "thought papers" which are intended to help them broaden their understanding of themselves and the world in which they work and live. Each student spends time throughout the semester working on a research project which has significance to women in general and to the intern in particular. The topic, selected by the student, may or may not be specially related to the field placement. However,in no case is it to be merely a duplication of the field work project.
Student Preparation and TrainingSince only juniors and seniors are admitted to Women's Studies Internship, most interns have at least some academic training in the area of their field placements. While some students may have actual experience in the field, most rely on their internship to furnish such experience. The diversity of placements, in a variety of fields, prohibits our program from providing specific job training for any particular work assignment. Students select placements based on their interests, knowledge, talents, and goals after reading intern request information, provided by specific organizations, on file in our office. If supervisors require specific skills in an intern, they must make that known during the initial interview. If the potential intern does not possess the necessary knowledge (such as legislative research experience), supervisors must determine if they will be able to provide such training during the internship. We recognize that supervising an intern requires significant time and energy but trust that the work performed by the student, together with the satisfaction of acting as a mentor for an intern, will more than offset the investment of both the organization and the supervisor. Student's who have participated in this program consistently report that it was the most important thing they did in college, both for their careers and their personal growth. Supervisors who have participated have been eager to have another of our students as interns. Women's Studies, and all who are responsible for this program, remain grateful for the dedication and talent which supervisors from around the state have consistently provided over the past two decades. Supervisors are always encouraged to contact the Women's Studies Internship Coordinator with any questions and/or suggestions regarding the program. To place a request form on file with the Women's Studies Program at the University of Connecticut please download a printable request form (Acrobat Reader or Microsoft Word) and send to the Women's Studies Program (address below), or contact Marita McComiskey firstname.lastname@example.org.
Placements for majors in any department Crucial work experience before graduation Contacts with future potential employers Exciting work in a supportive environment A chance to learn occupational survival skills
(last updated 1/13/2010 - khd)