Practicums, internships, or field placements are educationally directed, required components in Valparaiso University Social Work Department’s competency-based curriculum. Social Work internships develop students as emerging social work professionals. In the junior and senior years, students engage in two educationally directed internships under the apprenticeship of agency field instructors, for a total of 550 hours of real-world knowledge building and skill application. All of our internships are systematically designed, supervised, coordinated, and evaluated by the Director of BSW Field Education, who matches student interests with regional agency needs. This provides students with ample opportunities for practical experience and also a smooth transition to their first position after college or preparation for advanced standing in graduate school.
Field internships are designed to help students apply course content in real work with people and systems. In addition to focusing on professionalism, ethical practice, and critical thinking skills, the student arranges opportunities to practice social work skills directly with diverse people and populations at risk, (engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation) at the micro, mezzo, and macro level of practice, and non-clinical skills (data collection, research, program planning, advocacy, policy change, case presentations, professional networking, etc.) as they serve the greater good of the agency. The senior internship culminates in a Legacy Project that is designed to have a positive impact on the community-based agency and the client systems it serves.