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School of Social Work

Field Education Resources


Internship Tips  |  Agency Requirements  |  Instructor Requirements  |  Supervision Tips  |  Integrative Processing Model

For Students


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will I be expected to perform as a social worker right away?

No. During field instructor training, we ask that students follow a four-step process:

1. Orientation to the agency (see Orientation Form in appendix).

2. Observing agency activities, client services, meetings, etc. The student and field instructor should process all observations.

3. Student conducts social work tasks in presence of field instructor or designee.

4. Student begins independent work.

  • Can I add holiday and break time to my field hours?


  • I worked during the holiday. Can I count my hours?


  • Don’t hours worked during the holiday get doubled?


  • My agency is closed for a holiday that the university doesn’t recognize. I was supposed to work that day. Do I get to add these hours?

No. You may need to arrange with your field instructor to make up these hours.

  • Are there weekend and weeknight placements available?

Field placement takes place during normal business hours, i.e., Monday through Friday during the day. Field opportunities with non-traditional business hours are essentially non-existent. Students need to prepare to participate in weekday field assignments.

  • I do not have a car. Can I get a placement within walking distance from where I reside?

We cannot guarantee that an eligible field placement agency is located near your residence. Arranging travel to and from a field agency is the student’s responsibility.

  • I don’t think my agency is providing enough services for clients. What do I do?

The services an agency provides or does not provide are impacted by many factors. Talk to your field instructor about your agency’s mission, goals, and scope of services.

  • Why can’t I get the field placement that I want? I need to be placed at a certain agency so I can add it to my resume for future work in that area.

Field sites are selected first and foremost for educational purposes. The number of students being placed at any given time precludes placements based on personal desire



Tips for a Successful Internship

Tips for Interviews

1. Learn about the agency’s purpose and population(s) served;

2. Have questions prepared;

3. Dress in business attire;

4. Provide your resume;

5. Put cell phone away and on silent;

6. Smile!

Tips for successful Learning

1. Be open to learning. Put aside expectations.

2. If you don’t understand something, be sure to ask your field instructor.

3. Be familiar with agency policy and procedure.

4. Develop a habit of self-reflection using the Integrated Processing Model.



For Agencies & Instructors


Field Agency Requirements

Potential settings are visited and carefully reviewed by the Field Education Coordinator. In order to be approved for affiliation by the School of Social Work for the purpose of providing field instruction to social work students, agencies must meet the following criteria:

1. Agencies must be related in their purpose and function to the mission, goals, and objectives of the School of Social Work.

2. The agency administration supports the philosophy of professional education and is interested in and willing to commit staff time to student instruction

3. The agency offers a professional climate conducive to learning; staff relationship and morale contribute to a favorable climate for professional development.

4. Agencies’ philosophy of service must be compatible with the philosophy, values, and ethics of the Social Work profession.

5. Agencies must be clear about their programs and services offered.

6. Agencies’ programs must offer students a wide range of learning opportunities to work with client systems (individuals, groups, families, communities and organizations from various cultural, ethnic, social, religious, and sexual orientation backgrounds).

7. Agencies must have qualified Field Instructors or be willing to allow outside field instructors to work with their personnel.

8. Agencies must have been in operation for at least two years at the time of affiliation

9. Agencies must not be dependent on students to fulfill basic staffing needs.

10. The agency maintains and observes policies with respect to nondiscrimination in relation to clients, staff, students, and faculty.

11. Agencies must make reasonable arrangements for students with regard to space and equipment.

12. Agencies must agree to the execution of a written School/Agency Affiliation Agreement between the University of Southern Mississippi and the agencies’ representative duly authorized to enter into contractual agreements.

13. Agencies must be willing to provide some release time for field instructors to attend field orientation sessions and field instruction continuing education seminars and workshops.



Field Instructor Requirements

In order to be eligible to supervise the professional must possess:

  • A Master of Social Work degree from a school accredited by the Council of Social Work Education
  • A Bachelor of Social Work degree from a school accredited by the Council of Social Work Education – only for undergraduate and first year graduate students
  • Two years postgraduate social work experience

Helpful attributes for field instructors include:

  • Solid record of successful practice and a willingness to participate in refining existing skills and develop new ones to model for students.
  • High standard of professional ethics and values and the ability to incorporate those values and ethics with students in practice
  • Imaginativeness and creativity in developing field experiences related to field instruction course objectives.
  • A willingness and ability to organize time for instructing students, meeting with field liaison, and attending meetings for field instructors.

In the relatively uncommon circumstance that no properly credentialed social worker is available within the agency to provide field instruction, the program assumes responsibility for reinforcing a social work perspective by asking a faculty member to serve as field instructor.



Tips For Successful Field Supervision

1. Provide timely, honest feedback. Students want to know how they are doing.

2. Address concerns as they arise.

3. Call the field office if you have questions. We’re happy to help.

4. Maintain a professional boundary to avoid dual relationships.

5. Be open to learning from your intern – our students are learning from the latest research. 



The Integrative Processing Model

Step 1: Gathering Objective Data from the Concrete Experience

Describe the experience, focusing on such issues as:

  • What did I observe in this experience?
  • What were the key events and features of this experience?
  • What did I observe about the physical surroundings?
  • What did I observe about my behavior and actions? Those of others?

Step 2: Reflecting

React on a more personal level to the experience, focusing on such issues as:

  • How does this situation touch upon my own values?
  • How does it relate to my personal history?
  • What emotions and thoughts does this experience trigger in me?
  • What assumptions am I making about this situation?
  • What assumptions am I making about the people involved in this experience, including myself?
  • What does this experience point out to me about my own attitudes, biases, or preferences?
  • How do I evaluate my own effectiveness in this experience?
  • What behaviors (both verbal and non-verbal) enhanced or diminished my effectiveness?

Step 3: Identifying Relevant Knowledge

Examine academic knowledge which might be applicable to the experience, focusing on questions like these:

  • What course work or reading have I done which is relevant to this experience?
  • What principles, concepts, theories, skills, or information have I learned which relate to this experience?
  • How does this experience relate to what I have learned elsewhere?
  • How is the experience consistent with my academic knowledge?
  • How does the experience contradict or challenge my academic knowledge? 
  • How does my academic knowledge help me to organize, understand, make sense of, or develop hypotheses about this experience?

Step 4: Examining and Reconciling Dissonance

Examine more closely points of discomfort, disagreement, or inconsistency in the experience. As you reflect on points of dissonance in your experience, also explore ways in which this dissonance might be reconciled. At times, however, you will find that dissonance cannot be resolved. Learning to live within ambiguity, conflicting tensions, and paradox is sometimes required. Focus on such issues as:

  • What, if anything, do I feel uncomfortable about in this situation?
  • What conflicting information do I have?
  • How does this experience contradict my previous assumptions or learning?
  • What conflicting thoughts and feelings do I have about this experience?
  • What disagreement is there between what I think I “should” think or feel and what do I think or feel?
  • What conflict is there between competing “shoulds” in the situation?
  • What disagreement is there between my personal views and assumptions about the situation and the ideas put forth by the “experts” in the field?
  • What conflict is there between what I “know” and what I “do”?
  • Between what I “should” do and what I “want” to do?
  • Between what I “should” and what I “must” I do?
  • How can assonance be resolved?
  • Sometimes it’s not reconcilable—learn to live within it!

Step 5: Articulating Learning

Respond to such questions as:

  • What are the major lessons I learned from this experience?
  • What did I learn about myself? about others? about the world around me?
  • What knowledge, wisdom, or insights did I gain?
  • What skills did I acquire? 

Step 6: Developing a Plan

Consider the question, “Where do I go from here?” This line of thought calls upon you to respond to such questions as:

  • What gaps do I recognize in my knowledge and/or skills related to this experience?
  • Consequently, how will I fill these gaps? How should I proceed in my own learning?
  • How will I proceed with my work?
  • How might I modify my own approach, methods, or behavior as I encounter similar experiences in the future? 


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School of Social Work

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School of Social Work

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