Guidelines for Internships in Sociology (SOC 490)


Internships give students the opportunity to work and conduct studies in corporations, community agencies, government institutions, political organizations, and professional associations.  Part of the heritage of Sociology has involved bringing academic knowledge into the community to understand and respond to social concerns/problems.  Through systemic fieldwork, sociologists show, following C. Wright Mills, how people’s ‘‘private problems” become “public issues.”  In the process we also critically evaluate our knowledge in the light of this process of observation and participation.  An internship is the academically informed study of social issues through structured field work in the community. 

Internship goals are to:
  1. Develop a familiarity with the environment of applied sociology by first-hand contact with a community agency or private corporation.
  2. Apply and integrate sociology course material with practice in a work setting.
  3. Make a contribution to the community through research on topics or issues relevant to the internship organization.
Internship Placement

As detailed below, the internship requires a significant semester-long commitment to a supervised placement and related academic study.  Students are encouraged to select placements before the beginning of the semester.  Internship placements for sociology students can be found in a variety of areas, including:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Elderly Services
  • Health Related Services
  • Media
  • Women’s Services and Programs.
  • Community Organizations

Each internship must have at least one person at the field placement to whom the intern is responsible and who agrees to evaluate the intern’s work.  Furthermore, the department requires that potential supervisors offer regular supervision to the student in the placement.  

Internship Requirements

The Sociology Internship includes a field placement in a private or public agency and regular meetings with the Faculty Advisor.  Aspects of organizational behavior will be considered, to enable the student to better understand on-the-job experiences, as well as to provide an opportunity to relate theory to practice.

  • Field Performance: The student works with designated agency personnel, receives an overview of agency functions, and completes assigned tasks within the agency.
  • Field Journals: Students will keep a journal of their experiences in the field.  A copy of the journals will be turned in weekly to the instructor.  The journals will record daily activities, thoughtful observation, and reflection on field experiences.
  • Research Paper: Each student will complete a research paper of approximately 15-typed double spaced pages.  This will be a scholarly effort, applying sociological methods and concepts to a topic of interest to your internship site.  The paper should have five or more bibliographic citations (scholarly books and/or articles from scholarly journals).    This paper will be presented to your internship organization as your scholarly research contribution.
  • Meetings with Faculty Advisor: Regular conferences with faculty members will include discussion of problems that the student is encountering at work and of relevant literature.  The Faculty Advisor will assign readings on topics that directly and indirectly affect various professional settings.