What is an internship?
An internship involves the application of learned skills to a setting, agency or organization relating to the department which coordinates the internship. An internship should challenge the student to examine the values of the organization or agency involved in the experience, and to assess the student's education as it relates to that experience. The internship, whether paid or unpaid, should be viewed as both an academic and a work experience. Faculty Manual, A-18
Opportunities for Internships in Sociology
Sociology is a broad ranging discipline, covering many topics relevant to today's society. Therefore, the options for internships are also very broad. Many sociology students are interested in working in a social service setting in order to explore the practical issues of providing for the needs of individuals in society. Another popular area is the sociological study of bureaucracy and complex organizations, especially relevant for students with an interest in business administration or personnel/human resources. Opportunities are also possible in health care settings, in the criminal justice system, as well as in legal and political settings. Some students may wish to locate internships with an international focus.
A student must be in good academic standing (2.0 cumulative GPA and not on academic probation). The student must have 60 semester hours completed (or 57 if summer internship). Finally, a student must be a Sociology major or minor and have completed two courses in Sociology. (NOTE: internships do NOT count towards the Sociology minor)
Social services agencies offer a tremendous diversity of experiences for students. Examples include various social welfare agencies, family and child welfare agencies, and agencies which address specific issues such as substance abuse. Students interested in social work as a profession are particularly encouraged to have a social service internship. Students with an interest in women's studies can locate an internship in agencies which serve the special needs of women in our society.
Medical and Health Settings
Given that the medical and health care industries are growing in our society, students often find that medical sociology and anthropology are of particular interest. Examples of settings include hospitals and well-baby clinics. Students interested in gerontology often intern at a nursing home.
Legal and Criminal Justice Settings
The legal and criminal justice system offers opportunities for students interested in criminology or law and society. In addition to working in the court system, students could consider an internship with a law enforcement agency, a probations and parole office, or facility for juveniles.
The sociological study of bureaucracy and complex organizations has a long history. Students with an interest in business administration can arrange an internship working with the management of a business organization. Students more interested in labor relations or the sociology of work might explore opportunities with the personnel/human resources department or with a union organization.
Students wishing to understand today's educational institution might arrange an internship in a school. While most students won't be teaching, other opportunities in public and private schools are often available.
Internships in political sociology would be possible both in governmental agencies (at local, state or federal level) or with various organizations (such as environmental organizations) interested in social and political change.
One of the newest and most fascinating areas of sociology is examining media in society.
Students may be interested in internships with organizations which have an international focus or which are located outside the US.