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What is an internship?

All Human Development and Family Study (HDFS) students are required to do a senior-level internship. The HDFS internship (HDFS-491) is designed to assist you in gaining pre-professional experience, to begin to establish a professional identity, and to enhance your appeal to potential employers. This is your opportunity to gain work experience, contribute to a professional setting, and serve as a professional in a setting of your choice.

The practicum requires working a minimum of 204 hours at a professional work site in the HDFS field. Internships can be completed during the fall, spring or summer session. To qualify for an internship, students must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 overall and 2.5 in major studies required courses. 

As this is considered a senior capstone experience, students must be either in their last semester of coursework, or completed all coursework to be considered for internship. Students must also complete HDFS-490 (Professional Issues) prior to or concurrently with the internship. (Please note if planning a summer internship: HDFS-490 must be taken the semester before as this course is only offered in the fall and spring.)

All students are required to pass a background check to be eligible for placement. In addition, students, if applicable, must have successfully completed Program Progress Review recommendations.

Before even considering an internship you should gain experience working with children and/or families outside of your college courses. This may be either a volunteer or paid experience. This is important to help you in reflecting what site might be most beneficial for you. Frequently the first question a potential internship supervisor will ask is "What volunteer experience, or experience working with children and families does this student have?"

How to sign up for an internship

  1. Attend an internship meeting to learn the details concerning internships. These meetings are held the 3rd Tuesday in September and the fourth Tuesday in January.

  2. Reflect: Think about the types of career options that you would like to explore. Consider the job setting you are interested in: social services, educational, law enforcement, private agency? What age groups do you most enjoy working with? What kind of professional experience do you want? How will this experience fit into your short-term plans after you earn your degree? What are your strengths, talents, and what courses have been most interesting to you?

  3. Gather information: Look through the internship “blue books” located in Heritage Hall 127 (this office is open Monday through Friday from 8 until 4:30). These books contain summaries of sites previously used by students. In these books you will find contact information, job descriptions, as well as strengths and weaknesses of the sites. (Students can be placed at new sites as well).

  4. Schedule a meeting with the internship supervisor prior to applying to discuss career objectives and goals.  

  5. Complete the internship application and preference sheet (found below). Print off these forms from the website. These forms must be turned into the program director by the following dates:
       » For a Spring internship: First Friday in October.
       » For a Summer internship: First Friday in February.
       » For a Fall internship: First Friday in March.

  6. Submit evidence of a recent criminal background check. To be placed for an internship, you must turn in a recent criminal background check indicating that you have no criminal record. If you have not had a criminal background check done in the past year, please complete the background check form; the completed form and correct fee should be turned in with your completed internship application and preference sheet.

  7. The HDFS program director will review your application materials, check your G.P.A., and have your background check processed.  If all materials are approved, the program director will give your internship application materials to the internship coordinator.

  8. The internship coordinator will make the initial contact with your site. Once you receive approval from the coordinator; contact the agency to set up an interview. You should plan to send a cover letter and resume. Be sure to bring to the interview your portfolio, background check, and dress professionally. The site may also request completion of an additional background check (if the site is located in a state other than Wisconsin); a drug test and/or a TB test.

  9. After the interview contact the internship coordinator to confirm the site and get a signed add/drop card to register for HDFS-491 (internship).

For more information concerning the application process and the expectations for an internship, students may pick up a booklet at the University Bookstore. It is listed under HDFS 490 and 491.

Practicum Forms: