Social Work Internships

Internships are often necessary for many degrees at various levels. Even when it is not required, it is still possible to complete one and benefit from it. For anyone working on a master’s in social work (MSW) in the United States, an internship is likely to be required. Many programs are two years and also require two years of internship (or a number of cumulative hours typically done in two years). However, some programs offer part-time or amended schedules. The requirements for internships might also vary. It is best to look into the information provided by each school and reach out directly if needed. If you are still in the process of applying for programs, consider the requirements and time commitments including internships.

Benefits of Social Work Internships

The most obvious benefit most people think of is to get a job offer from the place of internship. Forbes cites statistics from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), explaining that 60% of paid internships turn into a job offer. However, this does not always occur. They further cited that unpaid internships were not necessarily much better than no internship at all. Still, there are many ways to benefit from an internship. Additionally, most social work internships for someone pursuing an MSW are likely to have some compensation. If possible, it is better to pursue a paid internship, though this is not always possible. 

social work internships

Aside from ending with a job offer, an internship has the potential to have a lot of benefits. They provide work experience and networking opportunities. Many jobs with an MSW requirement also require 1-2 years of work experience, for which the internship will be significantly helpful. 

The ability to network is always incredibly important with internships. With each connection, there is the potential to benefit through a job offer with the company, a job offer through someone else they know, or other ways in one’s professional life. Further, it is possible to see benefits come to fruition long after graduation and completion of an internship. Take the time to develop relationships, as you never know when it will help. Additionally, this will also enable you to become better at your work through the resources and wisdom they have to impart. 

Getting Social Work Internships

It is possible to pursue a number of different careers with an MSW. Naturally, there are also many different internships that one can complete. Many different organizations have a need for social workers. 

This may include:

  • Government agencies (state and federal)
  • Schools (public, charter, private, etc.)
  • Private clinics
  • Hospitals, medical clinics, and nursing homes

With any internship it is best to look as early as possible. Check out various websites like Indeed, LinkedIn, or even Idealist which has many positions geared toward people with an interest in social work. The earlier you are able to start looking the better. Many companies have specific hiring processes and it is possible it will take some time. This also allows you to work on various applications, research organizations, and prepare for the interview process. When you start looking early you also have more time to find paid internships, rather than having to accept an unpaid internship due to time constraints.

social work internships

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for social workers is expected to grow from 11 percent in 2018 to 2028. Further, jobs for healthcare social workers is projected to grow by 17 percent in that period. An additional 18% is projected for mental health and substance abuse social workers. With a growing population there is naturally an increased need for social workers. 

To find out more about pursuing an MSW, look at our guides here.