Service Learning Internships FAQs

Urban Studies 370/372: Service Learning Practicum combines a “Service Learning Internship” at a pre-selected community based organization or public agency with a one-semester, 3-credit academic course. The course has been carefully designed to prepare Queens College undergraduate students for active civic participation and careers in urban affairs. All Urban Studies students must enroll in EITHER URBST 370 OR URBST 371W to graduate. All Environmental Studies students must enroll in URBST 372 in order to graduate.
Download the Syllabus for URBST 370 &372 here: URBST 370/372 Syllabus — Spring 2012

Below are answers to Frequently Asked Questions about URBST 370 and 372.

Frequently Asked Questions:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

1. What do you mean by Service Learning?

  • Service Learning integrates practical experience with academic theory and research, placing equal emphasis on each.
  • Service Learning combines service-oriented fieldwork with coursework to help you connect your field experience to what you are learning in Urban Studies classes.
  • Service Learning is reciprocal – it benefits students and community agencies equally.
  • Service Learning stresses relevant and meaningful community service – student activities contribute tangibly to the community in some way.
  • Service Learning activities are directly relevant to Urban Studies courses.
  • With Service Learning, the service experience acts as a course “text” for both academic and civic learning.
  • Service Learning directly prepares students for active civic participation in a diverse democratic society.

2.    What is the difference between a “Service Internship” and a regular internship?

  • A Service Internship is conducted while you are enrolled in a one-semester seminar that meets approximately every other week for two hours.
  • In a Service Internship, you do “real” work that contributes meaningfully to the activities of your work site and make you part of their “team”.
  • A Service Internship includes academic reading material that is directly relevant to, and which is meant to enhance, your experiences at your job placement.
  • In the classroom part of the Service Internship students collectively discuss, reflect upon and problem-solve issues that arise during their job placements.
  • Through written assignments, students analyze their new experiences using urban studies research and theory.
  • With Service internships, the Urban Studies Department develops ongoing and long-term relationships with roughly eight community partner organizations. Students can only intern with these organizations.
  • Every semester at least two students are placed with each organization (as appropriate).
  • Students’ job descriptions are based on pre-arranged discussions between Community Partners and the Urban Studies Department. They are designed to benefit students and organizations equally.
  • The course instructor plays an active role in ensuring that Service Internships are mutually beneficial. This role includes regular site visits and conversations with community partners as well as students.

3.    Can I find my own organization to intern with? If not, why not?

  • No.
  • We have carefully selected approximately eight Community Partner organizations that offer internships matching the interests of our majors. They have agreed to engage our students in meaningful, interesting and substantive work. In turn, these organizations are relying on us to send them high caliber students who will contribute to their missions.
  • Students can rank their top three choices of Community Partners they wish to work with. In addition, some of our more multi-faceted Community Partners allow student interns to choose from a number of possible work assignments and areas within the organization.
  • Most students are able to work in their first choice organization, provided they send materials in on time.
  • Again, we have deliberately and carefully selected a wide range of possible work assignments. We feel confident that you will find an assignment that matches your interests!

4.    I can do the Service Internship but I don’t have time to take the class – can I get it waived?

  • No. In order to receive credit you must take the course and complete all of its aspects.

5.    I did an internship over the summer. Can that count? If not, why not?

  • No.
  • You must work with one of our Community Partner organizations, for the reasons stated above.
  • You must also conduct your internship the same semester that you take URBST 370/372, for the reasons stated above.

6.    How many hours do I need to work? Who determines my schedule?

  • You are expected to work a total of at least 70 hours with your organization. Usually that means 7-10 hours/week, for 7-10 weeks.
  • You may choose to work one full day/week or two half days/week.
  • You will work out your exact schedule with your supervisor at your work site.

7.    How much academic work is involved here?

  • Students must take URBST 370/372 while they conduct their internship. The course meets approximately every other week for two hours.
  • Students create journal entries that reflect on and analyze their experiences in the field using urban studies research and theory.
  • Readings of approx. 20 pages, due every other week
  • Additional oral and written assignments are up to the instructor, but may include:
    • Oral presentations on the students’ experiences
    • Essays
    • Research paper
  • See attached syllabus for a more detailed example of course assignments.

8.    Why do you send more than one student to each Community Partner?

  • We find that students have a more valuable experience when they work as teams in the field. Even if you work on different days than your classmate, you will see them in class and will be able to discuss your work and offer each other support.

9.    Will I get paid?

  • Yes and No. In most cases, our internships do not offer reimbursement or payment at this time.
  • But we do offer students stipends of approximately $750 to help with transportation and other costs associated with internships.
  • Stipends are not available for students who are being paid by their internship. Students with a high number of absences either in class or at their internship may be ineligible for stipends. Your instructor will let you know more specifically how many absences you may have before your stipend is compromised.
  • In order to receive a stipend, you must fill out a W-9 form for tax purposes.

10.    How will the course instructor be aware of what is going on at my placement?

  • Your course instructor will visit you at your placement at least once during the semester.
  • They will also check in regularly with your supervisor.
  • Your course instructor will also talk to you regularly about how your placement is going and will act as an intermediary in the event that any sensitive issues arise.

11.    What is my grade based on?

  • Your grade is based on the following (detailed percentages are up to individual instructors):
    • Supervisor’s evaluation
    • Journal entries
    • Written assignments
    • Oral assignments
    • Class discussion

12.    Why do I need instructor permission for this course?

  • This course requires that students are placed BEFORE the semester begins. Therefore, you must talk to the instructor and tell them about your interests several months ahead of time.
  • With advance notice, the instructor can make sure you get placed with the organization that best matches your interests.

13.    This program sounds AWESOME! How do I get started?

  • We’re glad you asked. The following is a step-by-step guide to what must be done the semester BEFORE you plan to take the course!!!
  • STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS:
    1. You MUST meet with the instructor in person the semester BEFORE you enroll in the course.
    2. After you have gotten permission to enroll, visit our list of Community Partners.
      1. Please review carefully, visit each Partner website and think about what you are interested in. Some places have job descriptions in mind (as noted) and some are open so you can identify an area you’d like to work in and they will try to place you in that area.
      2. Make sure to pay attention to locations — you will need to provide your own transportation to your internship!
      3. Once you’ve identified some areas of interest, please RANK your top three choices (in order of preference) and SEND THEM TO YOUR INSTRUCTOR!!! (PLEASE do not contact the organizations directly at this point). For each preference:
        1. Write a short paragraph describing the area you’re interested in and why.
        2. Please also list any skills or course experience that you think would help you contribute to this area.
        3. If possible, please list the days you prefer to work and the number of hours. Remember, you need to work at least 7-10 hours/week for approx. 10-12 weeks during one semester.
    3. Call the Office of Career Services to make an appointment to review your resume (718) 997-4465. This is REQUIRED for all students!! And it’s FREE.
    4. Once you have completed your resume and your rankings, send them to your instructor. S/he will forward them to your top choices. They will contact you directly to arrange an interview.
    5. Once you have confirmed what you will be doing, along with your instructor and your host agency, you will create a Job Description and a Service Internship Agreement. All three parties will sign the agreement (see sample).
    6. Your internship will begin several weeks into the semester. Therefore, you will meet as a class at least once or twice before you begin your internship. During these first classes, we will focus on professionalization and ways in which you are expected to conduct yourself at your internship. We will also begin some readings that will help you at your internship, and we will talk about specific skills you might need.

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