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School of Social Work

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

For Students


Frequently Asked Questions

1.    When is the first day we can start field? 

Typically, it is the week the semester you complete field placement begins. The field office will notify you of specific dates. 

2.     What counts as field hours (training, outside work from field instructor, etc.) 

All of the above counts as field hours, but it must be approved by your field instructor.  If you are unsure if the hours will count, ask your field instructor and/or field office prior to such situations.

3.     What all is needed for different field placements (fingerprinting, background checks etc.)?

We currently do not have a list of specific agency requirements for students to enter field.  However, you are responsible for fulfilling those requirements prior to entering field. If your field instructor or agency HR contact does not mention any requirements, make sure to ask at the interview.

4.     How do you decide what field placement is a best fit for student? 

The field office makes every effort to make sure that the student, field instructor, and agency are all the best fit for optimal learning in the field.  The field office does take into consideration the students’ needs and interests, but interests may not be the best determining factor for identifying a field placement.

5.     Do you count lunch hours? 

No, your lunch break is not counted as field hours.

6.     If your agency is closed for a holiday that the school doesn’t recognize or weather issues, can you still count the hours? 

If the agency is closed for a holiday not recognized by the university, those are hours you will have to make up. If they are closed due to weather or another disaster, you count those hours.

7.     If your supervisor does not have clients, can I ask my supervisor to observe other workers? 

Yes.  However, this must be approved by your field instructor.

8.     Do extra hours from the previous semester roll over to the next semester?

Hours are cumulative.  Therefore, hours earned one semester will be added to the hours earned in the current semester. The field hour requirements are established by CSWE.  If you complete your total hours before the end of the semester, you are still required to attend field until the end of the semester.  

9.     Can we work holidays, even if the school is closed?   Yes, keep in mind you are not an employee of the agency so you do not get "holiday" time.

10.  For the hour we are supposed to have with our supervisor every week, does it have to be an hour that we physically sit down and talk? 

Students are required to have one hour of supervision each week with their field instructor.  It is preferred that this hour is a scheduled, weekly meeting.  However, we understand that life in an agency is busy and sometimes supervision is done throughout the day.  Group supervision is also an option, if your field instructor has more than one intern.

Having a dedicated “supervision” time regardless of how closely you work with your field instructor is a requirement for field and accreditation by CSWE.

11.  Can I intern at the same place twice? 

It is important that you have diverse experiences in the field.  If the agency serves numerous populations or could get experience in a different social work are, this may be an option.  You cannot have the same field instructor for both placements.

12.  Can I use my car for my internship? 

You cannot transport clients in your personal vehicle, the university insurance does not cover students transporting clients in personal vehicles. 

13.  What happens when I am receiving too much work from other staff in my internship? 

First, have a conversation with your field instructor.  Most issues can be resolved through communicating with your field instructor.  He/She can speak with staff at the agency.  If the issue persists, contact the field coordinator.

14.  If our agency is closed, can they give outside work to do to make up for the time missed? 

Yes, your field instructor can assign outside work or ask you to attend events outside the agency, and these hours count as field hours.

15.  What do I do if there is a conflict of interest? (i.e. client that I know).

You need to communicate this to your field instructor.  Please do so professionally and in a confidential space.

16.  What do I do if I am being asked to do a lot of tasks for weeks that are not beneficial to my learning? (paper work, filing, copying, cleaning) 

Please remember that paperwork is a part of social work duties, and often times social workers do other duties due to limited resources.  If you do not feel you are receiving what you need, you need to first have a conversation with your field instructor.  If the problem persists, please contact the field coordinator.




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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