Why Are Internships Important in Social Work Degree Programs?

Students in Bachelor level or MSW programs often wonder why are internships important in social work degree programs. It is a legitimate questions, as such field experiences can often cause students some serious logistical planning. You need to think about such things as scheduling time for the work, obtaining transportation, carving out study periods and other such considerations. Most within the profession and in academia would agree that the benefits of social work internships are well worth the demands they place on students. Read on to learn more about these benefits and to understand how experiencing hands-on work in the field can contribute to your professional career.

Learn Best Practices

An internship in social work is a real-world experience that is supervised by a representative from your college or university. Usually, this is a faculty member within your academic department. One of the primary duties of your supervisor is to ensure that you learn the very best practices within the field and that your learning outcomes meet the accreditation of your program. While most within the profession are doing good things, it is easy to fall into habits. Your internship supervisor will meet with you regular to discuss your experience and will also observe you in action to be certain the agency you are working with has provided you a comprehensive experience that meets the expectations of future employers.

Gain Networking Possibilities

An internship in any field or industry provides an invaluable opportunity to make networking connections and to work with a mentor. Professional contacts within the field often lead to job prospects and other opportunities. The same is true for why are internships important in social work degree programs. It’s important to remember that networking should be a reciprocal process. Be sure to always make an attempt to offer help or information, rather than simply being ready to receive. The people you meet at your internship could end up being some of your most trusted contacts throughout your career.

Develop Your Social Worker Identity

Through your internship, you’ll be able to try on a number of roles to see which fits you best. It’s likely that you’ll choose an agency that focuses on a specific population or subject area of interest to you. For example, if you love kids, you may wish to become a social work intern with a foster care agency or residential placement facility so that you can discover which ages and demographic segments you connect with on a deep level. Even if you aren’t placed within your top-choice agency type, it’s still possible to explore various professional roles. Perhaps you’ll discover that the duties of being a case worker are right up your alley because you’re able to use your organizational and interpersonal skills to put families in touch with the resources they need. Don’t hesitate to volunteer for a task that may not seem to be your thing. Sometimes you’ll be surprised to discover your niche.

Above all else, internships or fieldwork for social work students provides the chance to practice the academic skills you’ve only read about in text books thus far. You should now have a clearer answer as to why are internships important in social work degree programs.

Related Resource: Top 10 Best Online Social Work Degree Programs