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Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my home school will award academic credit for my internship?
It is your responsibility to find this out in advance through resources at your home campus.
How many weeks is my internship and how many hours per day will I spend at my internship?
Most programs offer 4-week internships, but there are some programs offering 5- or 6-week internships. The length of the internship period and the number of credits is the same as the program’s ISP period and credits. Students spend an average of 30 hours per week at the internship.
What should I consider when choosing between an internship and an Independent Study Project (ISP)?
The internship and ISP both offer experiential learning opportunities for students to deepen their understanding of the core program themes. You may want to consider an internship if you would like to gain insights into a potential career field (particularly the day-to-day environment), learn about organizational structure in a new cultural setting, learn how the theories of the program are practiced on the ground, be connected to a new social network, learn from and about the local work culture, and develop professional and cross-cultural communication skills. You may consider an internship if you prefer routine and/or want to experience the daily life of locals who commute and work every day. The internship includes a seminar with reflection, analysis, essays, and a final paper/presentation.
You may want to consider an ISP if you love research, are passionate about a specific topic and question, and want to take advantage of doing fieldwork and original data collection in a cross-cultural and international setting on a topic you choose, are seriously considering further research at the graduate level in the near future, and prefer working independently while engaging with local communities and experts who will help inform your research project.
Finally, the internship offers more structure relative to the ISP. Internships are conducted in an institutional setting under the daily guidance of an onsite internship supervisor. The ISP is guided by an advisor whom the student may see no more than once a week.
What is the difference between an internship with SIT and a practicum-based Independent Study Project (ISP)?
In a practicum-based ISP, the student is still carrying out a traditional research project like any student doing an ISP. Additionally, however, the student spends a portion of the research and writing time involved at a specific site (e.g., school, NGO, or health clinic). The principle purpose of being at the site is to observe and conduct interviews in order to further the research project, but the student will likely also participate in the site’s activities informally. In an internship the student is primarily there to formally engage in the activities of the internship site in order to gain experience and skills while contributing to the mission of the organization. The student will compose a final paper but will not be focused on carrying out a traditional research paper. Furthermore, there is a fixed number of hours required for the internship along with coursework and class discussions, while the practicum does not have either of these. The only listings on a transcript will be ISP or Internship (i.e., practicum-based ISPs will appear as ISP).
How does SIT find and vet internships?
One of SIT’s core values is to build lasting relationships of reciprocity with their partners in every location. This means SIT has always been very engaged with local communities and often involves local organizations and individuals in programming through site visits, guest lectures, and other activities. As a result, SIT develops internships within a broad network of partnerships. SIT local staff identify potential sites for internships and then set up meetings to determine whether a placement will be mutually beneficial.
Is there a pre-existing list of internship placement options?
All programs have identified potential internship placements and have lists on the website of the kinds of internships likely to be available. All lists of potential internships are dynamic and will be shared with the students in country.
How does the placement process for internships work?
On all programs, SIT local staff do the groundwork of identifying and approving internship sites that agree to host a student, but the placement process varies by program and is presented to students early in the semester. SIT will also maintain regular contact with the internship site during the semester. You will need to meet all requirements necessary to finalize a placement. Depending on the program, these could include submitting a résumé and cover letter, doing an interview, developing a proposal, and demonstrating responsibility and maturity, among other requirements.
I am required to submit a résumé with my application materials if I plan to do an internship—does this mean I will also have to interview for a placement? If not, how am I matched with an internship?
A résumé is required at confirmation of participation in the SIT program. An interview may be required depending on the desires and needs of specific internship sites and/or local practices.
Am I guaranteed an internship?
SIT cannot guarantee a specific placement for a student, and there could be extenuating circumstances (e.g., environmental or political changes in country, changes at internship site, student displays irresponsible behavior) in which an internship placement is not possible. However, if you selected internship as your preference in your application and you meet the program’s conditions and requirements, we do not anticipate any obstacles to securing an internship placement.
What types of academic content goes along with my internship (e.g., readings, lectures, papers, etc.)?
While there will be some variation depending on the site and structure of the internship and seminar, you should expect to do some combination of the following: background research on the internship site and field of work, readings related to internships and program themes, field notes/journal, progress reports, critical self-reflection, profile of the organization, description and assessment of performance and contribution to the internship site, a presentation, and a final paper. Internship syllabi are available online and grading rubric will be distributed before the internship begins.
I understand that I may change my mind about internship vs. ISP after the program begins. Is there a final date when I have to decide?
Yes, you will be required to formally commit to either an internship or an ISP by a date designated by the academic director. Typically, you will need to confirm your choice between the second and fourth week of the program. You will be informed of this date early in the semester.
Who coordinates SIT internships? Will there be an internship coordinator to facilitate this process?
A member of SIT staff will oversee the internship process, including identifying potential internship sites, explaining the structure and requirements of the internship and seminar, and troubleshooting any issues that arise. Each program’s placement process reflects cultural norms and practices in the local context.
Who will oversee my internship? Who will I report to?
You will consult with an internship supervisor at the internship site. This supervisor will also assess your performance and be in contact with local SIT staff. However, you will need to manage your time, take initiative, and assume responsibility for the ultimate success of your internship.
My résumé does not reflect the professional experience I would like to gain in this internship. Will I be able to share a Statement of Purpose so I am able to express my interests and goals?
You will discuss your interests with SIT staff and develop your internship goals during the semester as part of your Internship Learning Agreement.
What happens if I don’t get my preferred internship placement?
All SIT internship sites offer a collaborative and rich cross-cultural learning environment. It is best to be open-minded about your internship, as there are many factors to consider in a placement: language, skills, interests, needs of the internship site, number of students interested in a site, etc.
Will there be more than one SIT student placed at the same host organization?
More than one student could be placed at an internship site if there is the capacity to supervise more than one SIT student.
What happens if my internship placement is not a good fit? Will I be able to move to another host organization?
SIT will only switch an internship placement under extreme circumstances.
Is there a contract or mutual agreement stating the terms of my internship?
Yes, the general terms of the internship will include an Internship Learning Agreement among the internship site supervisor, student, and an SIT program staff member. The specifics of the internship will be agreed upon in principle before the internship begins.
The internship syllabus has general learning outcomes. Will I also have internship-specific learning outcomes with corresponding tasks?
You will work with the internship on-site supervisor and SIT staff to develop a plan with goals for the internship and use this to guide your involvement at the internship site. The tasks and contributions you make to the organization will be assessed along with other aspects of your performance, such as punctuality, culturally appropriate behavior, communication, etc. You will also be graded on your final paper and presentation in addition to other assigned coursework.
Room and board during my internship:
Do I have to create my own budget?
No, there is a fixed stipend for food and housing during the internship period.
If possible, can I stay with my host family for the duration of my internship?
If the location of my internship is not in the program base city, how will I find housing? Will SIT help me secure housing for the duration of my internship?
While local SIT staff may be able to offer suggestions, a student interning outside of the program base city should be prepared to arrange their own housing.