What Types of Social Work Internships Are Available?

Social Worker InternshipsIf you are beginning a degree program in social work or have considered doing so, you may wonder about the types of social work internships available. When choosing a social work degree program, make sure to find out about the internship programs provided by each institution you consider. The best programs provide help and support to students needing internships, and you should be wary of schools that place the majority of this burden on students. At the same time, students need to be involved in choosing social work internships. Spend time discussing options with your instructors, and learn about the various opportunities available in your community. Here are a few ideas of places that you might work as an intern:

Various Non-Profits

Many privately run non-profit organizations provide internship opportunities to social work students. These include organizations with religious affiliations such as Catholic Charities or the Salvation Army. The Red Cross and the United Way are also non-profits that help the less fortunate, but these organizations do not have any religious affiliation. Smaller non-profit organizations that feed the hungry and provide other assistance to those in need can be found in most communities. Internships at these types of organizations will help you learn about:

  • Program development
  • Fundraising
  • Event planning
  • Work with vulnerable populations

Child Protective Services

If you are considering work with children and families, an internship with child protective services will help you learn about foster placement, child advocacy, reuniting families and adoption. In these internships, you may have the opportunity to assist or teach in parenting classes, to manage substance abuse programs, and to help with housing programs.

Criminal Justice

Many social workers are involved with the criminal justice system. They work with defense attorneys and with the accused both to identify factors that lead to crime as well as to create rehabilitation plans. An internship within the criminal justice system gives social work students the opportunity to work directly with behavioral analysis and solutions.

Geriatric Programs

Elder care is a rapidly expanding specialty in the field of social work. Students interested in this specialty might enjoy an internship at an elder care facility or with other organizations that work directly with aging populations. In these internships, you will be introduced to

  • Communicating effectively with the elderly
  • Geriatric advocacy
  • Counseling the elderly

Public Welfare Services

Public welfare services employ many social workers, and interns in these positions will learn about helping the needy get basic necessities. This may include such tasks as:

  • Managing nutritional benefits
  • Awarding cash grants
  • Providing housing allowances

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Social work is a diverse field with a variety of specializations and work environments, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most degree programs in social work require internships, and the types of social work internships available can help you determine your career path. In fact, you might even land a full-time position at the location where you complete one of your internships.