I’ve gotten several questions recently about how we pick our internship sites. There are several ways that agencies and GSSW become partners. Sometimes agencies contact us when they are interested in learning about our internship program. Sometimes we contact them to see if they would like to be an internship site for our students. Sometimes students find agencies that might be possible internship sites. We find agencies in all sorts of ways–through referrals from social workers in the community, from our own faculty within GSSW and sometimes we are in the right place at the right time. I will always remember the Saturday morning that one of my field faculty colleagues called me from the check out line at Target to let me know that, while waiting in line, she had struck up a conversation with the two people next to her. As luck would have it both were MSW’s and each worked at an agency that didn’t currently have interns–they are now both sites that have several student interns each year. My own favorite place that I met several possible internship supervisors was on a plane between Munich and Sarajevo–which is another story for another time.
I promise you that we don’t just automatically sign up agencies that we meet in check out lines or on airplanes. All of our potential agencies provide us with information about their mission and the specific work that they do. Once we receive this info from an agency, a field faculty member does a site visit to get a lot more information. We make sure that the agency has work that is appropriate for masters level learning and that they have a supervisor available to work with our students. GSSW students can receive supervision from a number of disciplines (for example, psychology or counseling) but somewhere in the mix has to be an MSW supervisor. We also make sure that an agency’s work is in keeping with social work values and ethics, including the presence of a non-discrimination policy.
I’ll write more later about our agency supervisors–how we pick them, train them, support them and do our best to make sure that they are a good fit for you.