The internship in sociology provides supervised, on-site field experience in a local community, government, or private organization. The internship offers students the opportunity to apply their learned knowledge of sociology to their lived experiences, while also enabling students to evaluate their career goals, develop their professional skills and competencies, and network with people in the field. Interns must complete at least 120 hours in their field placements. In addition to fieldwork, students will submit career planning documents, a journal, and a portfolio with a final report and evaluation by the field supervisor. The internship also will include regular meetings with the department chairperson.
The sociology department no longer requires that the internship be unpaid. For some of our students, it is simply not feasible to have an unpaid internship. In addition, many of the internships now offer payment, even if only nominal payment.
Start your search early (preferably in the semester that precedes the internship), as certain industries and internship programs have early deadlines.
- First, identify your career interests and goals. Then seek out prospective organizations for internship opportunities that relate to your career goals and interests.
- Contact employers about internship opportunities. Introduce yourself and sell your skills and explain how you can contribute to the organization’s success.
- Check Career Services at Salem State.
- Search the internet for internship programs.
- Network with friends, alumni, faculty, etc.
- Provide the sociology department chairperson with a description and documentation of the internship (venue, responsibilities, etc.).
Searching for Internships Online
Below is a partial list of websites that might offer internships. Vary your search term based on your career interests (for instance, “guidance counseling” or “guidance counseling” and “teens”).
Also, look at the websites of nonprofit organizations. There may be a menu with a link to volunteer opportunities and internships. Select the option for internship opportunities or else contact the appropriate staff member at the organization.
- Gather preliminary information about what the sociology internship entails. Start by either meeting with the department chairperson and/or reading the internship course syllabus.
- Investigate internship sites of interest. Because some internships have early deadlines, it is strongly recommended that you start looking for internship sites up to one semester before you actually enroll in the internship.
- Contact the supervisor/director or the appropriate staff member at the internship site. Discuss the possibility of interning for the organization. Secure approval from a supervisor for your internship placement.
- Complete the Sociology Internship Placement Information form, which requires the internship site supervisor’s contact information and signature. The internship cannot proceed without this!
- Complete the Salem State University Application for an Internship (Undergraduate). Secure all necessary signatures and submit to the registrar’s office.
There is a subtle difference between volunteering and an internship. Both typically are unpaid (particularly if it is a nonprofit organization), although some internships may come with a small stipend.
The internship basically is a traineeship that provides an intern a basic understanding of the day-to-day work tasks of his/her chosen profession. An internship provides training and skill development in the student's chosen profession. In other cases, the internship may not be directly related to the student's specific chosen profession, but the internship nonetheless provides valuable work experience and skills related to a student's major field of study (sociology). Volunteering also can serve this purpose, but the motivation behind volunteering is primarily to help others, by providing better living conditions for individuals and groups.