The information provided below is designed to answer any questions an agency may have about the Urban Studies internship program. It is also available here as a printable Fact sheet.
The internship gives students an opportunity to see the connections between theory (what they have been learning in their classes) and practice by working closely with a community group, public agency, non-profit or private organization. The experience grounds students' academic learning and helps them clarify their interests and career directions. In our surveys of Urban Studies graduates, we ask them to list courses which have proven important to them in their current careers. They almost always cite the fieldwork internship as one of the most important parts of their undergraduate experience.
Students choose a fieldwork site either because they are considering a career in the field or because they are interested in the substance of what the organization does and want to clarify their interests, professional goals, or possible area of graduate study. After choosing an agency, students submit a placement form to the Urban Studies office which provides us with the supervisor's contact information.
We expect students to be self-conscious about what they are learning through their internship and to be able to articulate and demonstrate their learning. They develop a learning plan with three kinds of goals: knowledge, skills, and normative, which they revise half way through the internship. Students choose the two goals that best demonstrate what they learned in the internship to present in the final "portfolio." The portfolio also includes an ethnography, history, and management analysis of the organization as well as a bibliography and academic essay. Most of the interns keep a journal, which they use to illustrate arguments in their portfolios. Each student makes a presentation on one of their learning plan goals to the whole class at the end of the semester.
Students should become involved in the substance of the organization's work. Successful models include assisting a particular staff member in all aspects of his/her work or working on a project that crosses departments and roles within the organization. Interns can provide needed help to assist with ongoing or new projects related to the organization's mission. From time to time, the intern may want to interview various staff members or even individuals from outside of the organization in order to do one of the seminar assignments.
We understand that sometimes you will expect interns to do routine work, as everyone in a workplace does, but such work should not be the primary focus of an intern's responsibilities.
In reviewing students' written assignments, we are looking for students to show they understand the organization's mission, how it operates, and its role within a larger context. In the final portfolios, we like to see: 1) demonstration of progress or development over time, 2) ability to articulate and attain specific goals, 3) demonstration of the link between learning in the internship experience and academic theory or analysis, and 4) demonstration of an understanding of the organization, its workings and historical and institutional context.
The internship supervisor contributes to assessing a student in two ways. The first is by your responses to questions on the supervisor evaluation form about the students' work and your satisfaction . The other way in which the supervisor plays a role in the student's grade is in creating good learning opportunities for students. The richness of the internship experience is reflected in the quality of the essays students hand in. At the end of the term, the supervisor is asked to provide feedback to the Urban Studies intstructor by evaluating the student intern's work. The instructor takes this supervisor evaluation into consideration when computing the student's final course grade.
How can an agency recruit student interns?
The Urban Studies office maintains a resource guide consisting of various Philadelphia-area agencies that are interested in hosting student interns. The guide is also searchable through a web-based database (for the Penn community only). Agencies that would like to have an intern may supply Urban Studies with information by completing the Fieldwork Agency Description Form. Students search the information in the database when choosing an internship site. Agencies are also encouraged to send job notices to the Urban Studies coordinator, who will post them through the Urban Studies student listserve.
We would be happy to talk with you further if you have any questions or would like consultation on the internship. You can call Elaine Simon at the Urban Studies offices, 215-898-6948.