GUIDE to ACADEMIC INTERNSHIP
SOC 450: Sociology Internship
SOC/WMS 451: Women’s and Family
Dr. J.A. Ruggiero
Faculty Advisor to Academic Interns in Sociology 450 and SOC/WMS 451
Telephone: 865-2514, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Courses identified as internships became available for sociology credit in the spring
semester of 2000. Prior to that time, internships were available either through the uses of
Sociology/ Applied Sociology course or through the Independent Study option.
The first internship course was designed for Women’s Studies minors, Sociology majors,
and other interested students as a theme course. Subsequently, Professor Ruggiero developed and
received approval for students interested in Criminology and Criminal Justice as well as other
areas to do an academic internship through Sociology 450.
Between Spring, 2000, and Fall, 2011, 80 students have completed, or chosen to do, an
internship under the direction of Dr. Ruggiero, Intern Faculty Advisor. Many interns are
sociology majors or minors. Others have come from Women’s studies, the Social Sciences
major, other social sciences—including Economics, Political Science, and Psychology, the
humanities (English in particular), and Health Policy Management.
Academic internships offer students exciting opportunities for connecting ideas and
perspectives learned in classes with work in a community organization or agency. These
internships also allow students to test out their career or work interests before they graduate from
college. At this time, both internships are offered on a request basis each semester. Contact Dr.
Ruggiero to discuss your interests and plans for an internship in either your junior or senior
The internships discussed here are for academic course credit in sociology or in Women’s
Studies. Paid internships may also be available. Information about them should be sought
directly from Patricia Goff in the Office of Career Planning and Internship Services, Slavin
Below are seven frequently-asked questions students ask about internships and the answers
Dr. Ruggiero has prepared to these questions.
QUESTION #1: WHAT IS AN ACADEMIC INTERNSHIP and
HOW WILL DOING ONE BENEFIT ME?
ANSWER: Internships are field placements at agencies or organizations in the local community.
Academic internships provide opportunities for you to connect classroom learning to the way life
operates in the world outside the classroom. Specifically, the internship site is the context in
which you will use
1. relevant course content such as ideas, disciplinary perspectives, explanations,
2. skills like critical thinking, methodological, analytical, interpersonal, and
writing/communication skills to better understand a social issue or to work on solving a
problem of interest to a community, group, or organization. Through participation in an
internship you may also gain other benefits such as work experience, developing social
responsibility, acquiring leadership skills. You may make useful contacts for letters
of reference or future employment at, or through, your internship Site Supervisor.
The question to ask yourself, and answer, is: What can an academic internship do for me that
I cannot gain from taking a traditional course?
QUESTION #2: WHY SHOULD I CHOOSE AN ACADEMIC
ANSWER: Generally, an academic internship (i.e. an internship for course credit) offers
students more structure and provides experiences which are more closely related to their
academic or career interests than does either volunteering or doing a paid internship.
Students who do an academic internship are supervised by a knowledgeable staff member (Site
Supervisor) at the placement agency/organization. Site Supervisors are aware of interns’ learning
objectives and assist them in achieving these objectives. Interns enrolled in an academic
internship that has a group meeting/seminar component also benefit from interaction with other
interns and with the Faculty Advisor. In addition, the Faculty Advisor brings her expertise and
perspective to seminar discussions by helping students to frame and make sense of their
experiences at the site.
QUESTION #3: WHAT KINDS OF INTERNSHIPS ARE GENERALLY
ANSWER; There are many internship opportunities available in the local community. You may
also develop your own placement site by working with Patricia Goff.
The kinds/general categories of internship sites typically chosen by students in the social
sciences and Women’s studies fall into four broad categories:
Internships in Human Services/Non-Profit Agencies or Organizations:
In this setting, interns might be involved in doing applied social research,
advocacy, public relations, drug and alcohol counseling, working with homeless families,
abused women, with juveniles, the mentally ill, the developmentally challenged, etc.
Internships in a Criminal Justice Agency/Setting:
In this setting, interns are involved in some aspect of work related to law
enforcement, probation, or adult corrections.
Internships in a Government Agency (Public Planning and Administration):
In this setting, interns may do a variety of things at a state or local government
agency, depending on the agency’s mission and the student’s interests and skills.
Internships in a Private Corporation/Company:
Interns, in this setting, may be involved in marketing, sales, public relations, or
human resources/personnel work. Interns may also work with a lawyer or a legal
advocate in doing work on behalf of some constituency.
QUESTION 4: HOW WILL I CHOOSE/LOCATE AN ACADEMIC
ANSWER: If you decide to take an internship in the Sociology Department, the Department
Chair, Dr. Charlotte O’Kelly, will generally refer you to Dr. Ruggiero. You will choose an
internship site after consulting with Dr. Ruggiero and with Patricia Goff, Assistant
Director/College Internship Coordinator (CIC).
Choice of a site is generally based on your interests/background, learning objectives,
skills, career plans, and the opportunities available at the time. The availability of a Site
Supervisor (SS) who has a background or degree in sociology or a related social science should
also be a consideration.
Examples of Sites Where SOC 450 Students Have Interned Include:
The American Cancer Society
The Attleboro Center
Blue Cross/Blue Shield
The City of Providence/Disaster Management
The Diversion Program of the Attorney General’s Office
The Groden Center
Hasbro Children’s Hospital
The Partial Hospital Program
International Institute of Rhode Island
The Juvenile Intake Program
The Meeting Street School
The Miriam Hospital, Quality Assurance Department,
Centers for Behavioral and Preventative Medicine
Mixed Media Promotions
The Muscular Dystrophy Association
New Horizons Adult Day Center
The Ocean Project
Project Link, Women and Infants Hospital
Project Outreach (a Food Pantry)
The Providence Center
The Restraining Office
RI Assisted Living Association
RI Commission for Human Rights
RI Community Food Bank
RI Department of Corrections, Adult Probation and Parole
RI Office of Public Defender
RI Statewide Independent Living Council
The Roger Williams Medical Center
The Roger Williams Park Zoo
The Royal Gallery
Smith Hill Community Development Corporation
U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Examples of Sites Where SOC/WMS 451 Students Have Interned:
Butler Hospital, Partial Program
Children’s Advocacy Center
Community Counseling Center (Pawtucket)
ComPeer of Kent County (Warwick)
Day One: The Sexual Assault & Trauma Resource Center
Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center (A shelter for battered women and their
Fatima Hospital (Breast Cancer Unit)
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
New Hope, Incorporated
The Providence Children’s Museum
Public Defender's Office
RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence or an affiliated agency
RI Commission on Women
RI for Community and Justice
RI State Police
The Women’s Center of RI
QUESTION #5: WHAT ARE THE GENERAL EXPECTATIONS of
SOC and WMS INTERNS?
TOTAL Interns enrolled in SOC 450 or 451 offered as an Independent
HOURS Internship will complete a minimum of 100 hours of work/participation
AT SITE: at the site. Generally you will spend eight hours per week at the site—
usually one full day or two half days. Access to a car is necessary.
REQUIREMENTS: Interns enrolled in either 450 or 451 as an Independent Internship
will meet with their Faculty Advisor (FA) individually (or in
small groups) every other week. They will also be in contact with the FA
via email or telephone in the interim weeks.
After selecting an appropriate internship site, you will:
1. develop your job description in conjunction with your SS and FA, AND
2. set up your learning objectives for your internship
Other course requirements include doing related reading, keeping a journal
of your experiences, and completing a major field project/product
pertinent to your sit organization and your interests. Mini assignments,
readings, and other activities may also be assigned at the discretion of your
QUESTION #6: WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO PREPARE FOR
A SOC or WMS INTERNSHIP?
ANSWERS: Prior to enrolling in an internship course: you will need to:
1. develop some “self knowledge by identifying
a. your objectives (academic, personal, and career-related) in taking an
b. your interests, strengths/abilities, and skills. What talents will you bring
to the organization/agency?
2. explore and do some research on several internship possibilities of interest to you and
how each will relate to your objectives, strengths, and skills by
a. utilizing the resources available through the Career Planning and
Internship Service Office in Slavin Center and/or
b. talking to faculty, PC alumni/alumnae in the area, relatives, friends, or
professionals you know.
c. discussing possible choices with the Faculty Advisor before you make a
3. prepare a professional-looking resume and cover letter which identifies your
interests and abilities.
Include items that increase your attractiveness or “marketability”—e.g.,
relevant courses you took in another discipline (like business, social work,
psychology, education, etc.); relevant work or volunteer experiences.
4. apply for an interview with the organization/agency.
Type all application forms, if possible, to make the best impression.
5. set up the interview.
Prepare by obtaining the list of “questions to ask” from the Career
Planning and Internship Services Office.
6. be interviewed and accepted as an Intern at that site.
QUESTION #7: HOW FAR AHEAD SHOULD YOU BEGIN TO PLAN?
ANSWER: Give yourself plenty of time to locate and confirm an internship site that is well
suited your interests and which can give you the types of experiences you desire. A good
“rule of thumb” is to do the preliminary steps described earlier in this Guide during the semester
preceding the one in which you will be at your internship placement so that you can get the
site and details in place by the end of that semester (i.e., in the Spring for an internship planned
for the Fall semester).