Like traditional internships, these experiences are more intense than typical service-learning courses, with students working as many as 10 to 20 hours a week in a community setting. As in traditional internships, students are generally charged with producing a body of work that is of value to the community or site. However, unlike traditional internships, service internship have regular and on-going reflective opportunities that help students analyze their new experiences using discipline-based theories. These reflective opportunities can be done with small groups of peers, with one-on-one meetings with faculty advisors, or even electronically with a faculty member providing feedback. Service internships are further distinguished from traditional internships by their focus on reciprocity: the idea that the community and the student benefit equally from the experience.
Example: Providence College
PSP 401: Public Service Practicum
Purpose: The Practicum is designed to prepare you to work as a Community Assistant for the Feinstein Institute for Public Service. The Practicum is also designed to develop and improve the practical skills that will help you to work effectively as liaisons between service-learning courses and the community-based organizations that operate as service sites in these courses.
Community-Based Component: The Practicum is a yearlong required course for the Public and Community Service Studies major. While the two semesters differ significantly in terms of course content and objectives, they complement each other. During the first semester your focus will be on developing a comprehensive knowledge of your site, the population it serves, and the neighborhood where it is located. You will be responsible for “managing” the service for the group of students assigned to your site. You will be asked to reflect upon your motivations, your intentions, and your impact in light of the relationships you develop over the course of the semester. During the second semester your focus will be on analyzing the relationship between the Feinstein Institute and your site and you will be asked to reflect upon and write about responsibility and impact at the institutional level. You will consider the history of the relationship between the Institute and the organization and be asked to make concrete recommendations regarding the advancement of the relationship in the future.
Related Assignments: Organizational action research, critical incident journal, grant application.
Sample Assingments from Other Courses:
Rick Battistoni and Dana Farrell Feinstein, PSP 401 and 402 Public Service Practicum.
Service Component: A large portion of the academic component of the Practicum consists of the knowledge student’s gain through their role as Community Assistants working in specific community agencies and organizations. Throughout the year, students will use their role to learn as much as they can about the community organization, both for their own development as public and community service studies students and to enhance resources for their classmates (Providence College/Feinstein Center students who work at their community sites).
Related Assignments: Students participate in action research, examining the mission statement, goals, objectives and history of the agency; its ‘organizational chart,’ staff structure, and budget; and an organization stakeholder and issue analysis. Students must also complete a grant application for the agency, applying for funds through the Feinstein Institute Community Grant to initiate a program or activity at the site, which will be implemented and evaluated later in the semester. Students may also participate in the COOL Conference. Those interested in pursuing this option must submit a workshop proposal to the annual Campus Outreach Opportunity League National Conference on Student Service.