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Your Journal/Paper and Oral Presentation

The internship paper involves the application of primarily sociology course material (literature, concepts, ideas) to understanding and analyzing the internship experience. It is an applied research project in which you will be observing and studying an organization at the same time you are working and making a contribution to it. You will be recording your observations in a daily journal and you will use the data to help write your paper. You will also be asked to make an oral presentation of your applied research efforts and what you have learned. The following outline should help you in accomplishing this task:


1) The Participant Observer -- Not only are you a worker in your internship experience, but you are also a participant observer. As a participant observer, you will be trying to understand the organization of work by observing the interactions of people around you. Your goal is to discover how the organizational structure shapes the type of interactions that occur. In order to observe the organization, you need to always keep a critical eye about what you are observing. The first step in being critical is never making any assumptions about what is going on or why. Instead, always ask yourself: WHY? For instance, Why do they have this policy? Why does this person apply the rules differently than the other? Who has power? Why? What policies are enforced. Why? Which rules are ignored. Why? Do rules apply differently by status?

2) Don’t “Go Native.” -- When you become too involved with the people you are observing you are unable to maintain a critical eye. So, always maintain some distance between yourself and the people you are observing. This doesn’t mean you have to avoid people or isolate yourself. What it means is that regardless of how close you become with people, you must never assume that you know WHY something is occurring.

Keeping an objective eye is really difficult. However, it is imperative for being able to write your paper.

For instance, let’s say your site supervisor is also your boss. She comes into work one day and tells everyone that the work they are doing is crummy and she expects everyone to work overtime to compensate. You might feel very compelled to get into the mudslinging that occurs when the boss leaves. You might, along with your other co-workers, start calling the situation “unfair” and your boss “mean.” In your role as an intern, however, you do NOT JUDGE. Instead ask yourself WHY. For example, consider these questions: a) why did the boss interpret the work as crummy. b) why does she expect your dept. to work overtime. c) is everyone in the department required to do overtime or just some people.

Here’s another example. Let’s say you are a caretaker working with disabled youth in a nursing home-type situation. You notice that whenever you tell a youth to complete some task, she runs to her room and calls her parents instead. The parents call your supervisor and you get reprimanded. Your first reaction may be to get angry with the client, the parent and the supervisor. However, we want you to focus on WHY that exchange occurred. Why did the child tell the parent? Why did the parent call the supervisor and not you? Why did the supervisor reprimand you before asking your side of the story? In other words, how did the structure of the organization shape the interactions that occurred?

3) Journal Notes --

You will be required to write down (and eventually type-write) the DAILY observations you make at your internship. Because you are making no assumptions about what is important to observe, you should write down all of your observations at first. What are you doing? What are others doing? Who makes the rules? Who breaks the rules, etc. The best time to write your journal notes is directly after your shift at the internship organization. Your memory is freshest at this time. Some of the information may seem irrelevant. However, because you have no idea what will become important, write everything down. Later you will find patterns of behavior that you may want to focus on. Your goal is to find patterns of behavior that help you explain the organization.

If you cannot write everything down when you return, then jot down notes as you are doing your internship. These notes will jog your memory for when you have the chance to write everything down.

The journal notes are not simply logs of what you did everyday. You will not write simply: today I shuffled papers, then I led a group about depression, then I answered phones, etc. The journal notes are your opportunity to figure out how the organization works. Therefore, you will be focusing on the interactions that occur and trying to derive some meaning about those interactions. Discuss how your assignments made you feel. Discuss who give you the assignments. How people reacted to you and to each other. WHY.


The purpose of the 15-2- page paper is to critically examine the organization where you completed your internship.

1) What is critical examination?  When you provide an analysis of the observations made during your internship. Analysis can be completed in three steps:

A) Observations --- The observations that you make from you journal will help you determine what is important to consider about your organization. You will be focusing on patterns of behavior that help you understand how the organization is structured and functions.

B) Apply concepts to observations -- You have taken at least two classes to prepare you for your internship: sociology 325 and 411 OR 338 and 431. Those classes provided you with concepts that will help you understand the observations made in your journal. For instance, how was your organization structured? Was it hierarchical, participatory? Does your organization fit best under the halographic image or the mechanical image? Your role in the paper is to make a connection between the observations you made at the organization and the concepts from 325 and 411 OR 338 and 431 and any other relevant class you have taken. Here, you will see some examples of concepts you can use.

C) Evidence -- In order to substantiate the claims you are making, you must provide evidence that illustrate how the concepts you use exist within the workplace. For instance, let’s say you are arguing that the organizational structure affected workers negatively. You would want to describe the organizational structure. Then you would want to use quotes from workers that describe their dissatisfaction. All of your claims about the organization must be supported through evidence. Evidence can be examples of stories, literature from the company, diagrams, informal interview with workers, etc.

2) How should I write the paper (more detailed instructions will be given by the professor)?

A) Provide an introduction stating the purpose and content of your paper- the organization you interned in, the general nature of your internship the kinds of specific issues, problems or recommendations for change you will focus on.

B) Provide a history and background of the organization (e.g. service, manufacture, etc) department or internship context- here you may use or refer to documents, records, letters, memos, newsletters, brochures or other relevant written materials from the organization to support your points. The introduction and the history/background, should only be 1/5 of your paper.

C) Briefly identify key characteristics observed that you wish to focus on which will help describe and analyze the organization- organizational structure, supervisor/employee relations, advocacy issue, gender/race relations, technology, attitudes, values, etc.

D) Include a Methods section which details how you gathered the data you will be presenting in your paper. Did you do interviews? In what setting? With whom? How many people? Did you simply do observations? When? How often? You should consult the chapter on Research Methods that is handed out during class in order to write this section effectively.

E) Apply appropriate course concepts, ideas or readings that help deepen our understanding and help to explain these characteristics- for employment relations these might be bureaucratic-machine, organismic, cultural, brain-like, political, etc., work-family, job (dis)satisfaction, discrimination, labor relations, new technology, employee rights issues/policies.  In DSJ, these might be altruism, empathy, sympathy, self-interest, rational choice, collective behavior, resource mobilization, political process, SMOs, new social movements, etc.

F) Focus on key workplace problems or issues related to these concepts and ideas. Be sure to make the connection between problems identified and course material and close and clear as you can. Analyzing the organization using the concepts learned in classes should be 3/5 (of the bulk) of the paper.

G) Provide recommendations for change- be as specific as you can as to the nature of these changes- the steps to be taken, practices, programs, policies. This should be approximately 1/5 of your paper

The grade you receive on the paper resides primarily on your ability to apply the sociological perspective to your internship experience. This means you should analyze the workplace using concepts from class, and then be able to provide policy recommendations that flow logically from your analysis.

We take Plagiarism very seriously. Note that you were required to sign a sheet of paper that explains your responsibility in writing the paper. If you fail in this task, you will not be able to pass the class. Note that you must get a C or better in this class to GRADUATE.

Oral Presentation

Besides writing an analytical paper, you will also be expected to present this analysis. The presentation should focus mainly on analysis. However, you should also briefly describe the organization and discuss what you did during your internship. Finally, do not forget to include a description of the policy recommendations that you are making given your analysis.

Criteria for class evaluation: 1) A systematic, detailed analysis of your internship site 2) a separate copy of your journal notes 2) the application of course material with the use of field data to support your assertions 3) the use of evidence directly from the work site or supporting literature corroborating claims made about your case (organizational charts, records, documents, histories, interviews, questionnaires 4) a well-reasoned, written, logically developed analysis 5) 15-20 typed doubled spaced pages 6) an oral presentation and 7) an evaluation that receive from the site supervisor about your experiences.


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