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Sociology Program

Guide to Finding an Internship

Internship in Employment Relations / Diversity and Social Justice
Internships are opportunities for graduating students in sociology to have “hands-on” experiences that are meant to provide them with ways they can apply their academic knowledge to actual organizational settings.

Purpose and Benefits of Internships
The purpose of the internship is to provide for students a learning experience that links the courses they have taken to the actual everyday operations, issues and problems of an organization of interest to them.

The benefits are threefold: 1) an effective way to learn the relevance and applicability of sociology in an actual organizational setting, 2) develop organizational and professional skills, 3) a proven stepping stone or pathway toward career and job opportunities.

An internship is a “win-win” situation for both the student and the internship site- the student gets the experience, skill development/training, the “foot in the door” for career/professional opportunities to put on their resume, and the organization gets the energy and enthusiasm of a graduating senior who wants to do good job and make a contribution.

The student is not an employee, and can express a desire to do different things and take on challenging tasks that will make for a learning experience. And in doing so, may prove to be worthy of a job offer should such an opportunity emerge.

Finding an Internship
It is the student’s responsibility, with the help of their advisor/instructor, to secure an internship. Thus, students should meet with their Internship Class instructor by early October in the semester prior to class. Meeting with the instructor even earlier is fine.

In order to secure an internship, students have traditionally utilized a variety of strategies: 1) consult with the SIUE Career Development Center in the Student Success Center (618-650-3708), 2) make a list of family, friends and relevant contacts who may work with or have knowledge of opportunities in organizations of interest, 3) network with those already in a field of interest or in an organizational context of interest to you. 4) continue the conversation with all contacts since opportunities emerge often in the most unexpected ways, 5) call or contact organizations you are in and tell them “I am a graduating senior at SIUE and I need to do an internship as a requirement for graduation- I am really interested in your organization who can I talk to about doing an internship?”

Consulting with the SIUE Career Development Center is important because employees there can:
a) Help you write a professional resume.
b) Help you write a professional inquiry letter.
c) Provide norms of professionalization about when to call versus email; how to dress or how to address possible interview questions.

Securing an internship has been likened to a job search. Reflecting on one’s career and educational goals will help point toward a desirable direction for an internship. Developing a resume helps in the preparation for this search and developing interview skills and strategies will help with following through on internship opportunities. Getting an internship helps students develop critical skills needed to be successful in the job market.

Since the applicability of sociology to the workplace context is so broad, we understand that there are many different kinds of internship opportunities that may be available. In most cases you will receive support from your sociology internship instructor/adviser in the choices you make- but to make sure that the internship is appropriate and most conducive for a successful experience you should confirm your choices with the instructor/advisor.

One other tip about choosing an internship site -- Typically, students must balance the learning possibilities offered by an internship with the possibilities for employment in that organization. One may be greater than the other. Also the convenience of getting to that internship should be considered since the expectation is that the duration of internship will be at least 120 hours- most interns spend more time than that on-site since it is important to cultivate relationships with organizational members.

Site Supervisor at Internship
The internship is understood to be a mutually agreed upon opportunity, between the student and a site supervisor, for a student to participate in and make contribution to a particular organization. The site supervisor is someone in that organization who has agreed to 1) take charge of the student’s learning experience, 2) to provide an understanding of the student’ role, function and tasks, and 3) to evaluate the student’s performance toward the end of the internship.

Where to Intern
Because one of sociology’s great strengths is the broadness of its perspective, students majoring in sociology have gotten jobs and developed careers in a variety of organizations: private business, public government, social service, voluntary and not for profit organizations. You may be interested in any of these organizational contexts and focus on a variety of professional jobs in those organizations: administrative, managerial, technical; human resources, training, public relations.

Sample of Internship Sites
O’Fallon Police Dept
Caritas Family Solutions
Department of Illinois Children and Family Services
St. Claire County Sheriff’s Office
Goodwill
Slagle Financial
CBS Radio
Missouri Dept of Conservation
Children’s Home and Aid Society
Four Rivers Education District
Troy Early Childhood Centers
Barnes Jewish Hospital
Anderson Hospital
Alton Memorial Hospital
St. Elizabeth’s Hospital
Woman’s Safe House
Madison County Detention Center
Jim’s Formal Wear
Macy’s
Simmons Attorney at Law
City of East St. Louis Office of Employment Services

For More Information about requirement, please see the Employment Relations and Diversity and Social Justice web-pages.

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