Social Work Pilots International Internship Program in Ireland

Social Work Pilots International Internship Program in Ireland

Most of us think of a local clinic or business when we hear the word “internship” and not a site in a foreign country.

For the CHHS School of Social Work (SSW), the word internship doesn’t just mean local; it means abroad, too. During the summer, the school piloted its first-ever international internship program through International Studies Abroad (ISA).

ISA provides students in the U.S. and Canada the chance to explore the world. SSW worked with the UNCW Study Abroad Office to connect with the organization and collaborate. The program was customized to fit SSW’s curriculum so that students would be placed in social service related agencies overseas.

As a requirement of the BSW Program, all students are required to complete an internship through the Social Work 496 Seminar class. The students, who were all rising seniors, had to complete 250 hours of work at various places, which included working with children with autism, older adults with technology and adolescents with mental health issues. Two other students split their time working with children and hosting their own weekly radio show at the National University of Ireland Galway radio station, talking about issues such as social justice, LGBTQ pride, immigration and cultural competence.

The students learned a lot about social work in Ireland and were able to put what they learned into practice.

“What I was really impressed with is, how much they chose to learn about policies and social justice issues happening in that community,” Field Education Coordinator Angie Vandenberg said.

Vandenberg, who is an alumna of the UNCW BSW Program, said the special part of the trip was visiting the students in their agencies and seeing them in action, something she wished she could have done while an undergrad.

The hope is that SSW can one day incorporate the pilot program into the curriculum so that every summer they can offer an international field placement.

Vandenberg said the internships stand out on resumes for jobs and graduate school applications, especially having an international field experience.

The fact is, internships are a crucial part of a student’s journey to find work after graduation.

Cick here to experience photos from the trip.