Women’s Studies majors generally satisfy the Internship/Field Work requirement through taking the six-credit internship course, WOST 490/490A, in the junior or senior year. For this course, students work on a volunteer basis from eight to fifteen hours per week during the semester in a supervised field placement, generally in an agency dedicated in some way to activism or service on behalf of women, such as a women’s shelter, health clinic, publication, or advocacy group. Simultaneously, students meet in a weekly seminar to discuss the progress of the intern work, evaluate field learning, and to examine topics such as the ideology and structure of the helping professions, human services and social change, dynamics issues in feminist non-profit organizations, and applications of feminist theory of social change in real-world organizational settings.
Internship placements can be very rewarding learning experiences in themselves, and even when problems occur with the placement, valuable lessons emerge and students receive support from the seminar problem-solving discussions. Often our graduates have the opportunity of continuing paid employment with the same agency in which they interned in their senior year.
During my internship I was able to see how the skill-set I was building in Women's Studies could translate into employment in the "real world." I am now employed at the organization where I did my internship, and would not have found this opportunity if it weren't for the Women's Studies Department.
Recent internship placements include:
Plymouth County Correctional Facility Domestic Violence Education Program
UMass Boston Women’s Center Coordinator
Teen Voices Magazine editorial intern
New Mission High School, assistant to social worker
Boston Glass (an organization supporting queer youth)
Slice of Rice (a newly organized non-profit for queer Asian youth)
Peer Mentor/Teaching Assistant, Women’s Studies intro course, UMass Boston
Women’s Resource Center, Lawrence, Mass (a battered women’s facility)
Here are some more comments students have made about the value of internships in writing about the experience afterwards:
“My experience helped me discover employment possibilities in my field of interest, and my supervisor provided a much-needed work reference.”
“Most important for me was the opportunity to clarify my own values and attitudes concerning work and community service.”
“I was gratified to discover how many skills I already had, and to be able to formulate new skill objectives.”
“I learned so much about the way organizations are structured and decisions are made, knowledge which I can use in a variety of situations.”
“Overall, I am very glad to have had the experience of working in a shelter, and will always remember the impact it had on me, and my understanding of funding and grants for such programs and why it is so necessary to pay qualified individuals well to do these jobs.”
“I have grown so much overall as a person. The way I perceive my abilities to get things done and my confidence have increased tremendously and I am so happy with the person that is leaving this internship.”
“This position has taught me that I enjoy being in charge and has enabled me to improve my leadership skills as well as many other necessary and practical skills, which will hopefully help me to gain a position of prominence following graduation or to help me start my own business.”