Internships & Community Engagement
Testimonial of Sociology Internship Experience at Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
by Dylan Race, BA 2019
The Sociological Internship program is an incredible way to broaden your educational experience at USF. Something I’ve heard quite often as a student is that the value of a degree alone depreciates every year. This is an especially concerning reality for future law students like myself. That is why I was determined to find some sort of internship to flush out my resume as I prepare to apply to law schools. However, I was unaware that USF’s Sociology department already had a fantastic infrastructure set up to help students find internship opportunities here in Tampa and beyond. The department and its faculty are aware of how important internships can be, and they are here to help any student access these valuable learning experiences.
Just like the rest of USF, the Sociology Department has plenty of networking resources to help students find opportunities in their future career fields. The internship I participated in was with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, which has accepted USF students in the past and worked with USF counselors. It was an experience that will certainly shape how I approach my future career in law. On the department’s website, you can find a wealth of contact information you can use to apply to internships, and meeting with a faculty member in person is a great way to find out what kind of internship is best for you.
One thing that I was concerned about as I applied to internships was that I would be left at a desk, handed menial tasks to complete, and wouldn’t be given real opportunities to learn. However, the Sociological Internship program is designed to protect students from exploitative internships, and guarantees that your internship experience prioritizes your learning. Students in the program work with a member of the Sociology faculty, who works with the internship coordinator, to ensure the internship is living up to USF’s standards.
Another thing that gave me pause about committing to an internship was the potential time commitment. I completed my internship during the final semester of my senior year, and if I had more than a couple classes left to earn my degree, I probably would have passed up the opportunity. However, something that every student should know is that every internship is different. There are almost certainly opportunities that fit your schedule. My internship allowed me to pick up shifts anytime I wanted, any day of the week, at a frequency that worked for me. This allowed me to fit the internship around my other commitments, like studying for LSATs, participating in University clubs, attending classes, and working part time. Even while juggling so many commitments, I was able to meet the 90 hour requirement to earn three academic credit hours. While not all internships are as flexible as mine was, students should know that there are internship opportunities which can accommodate even the busiest schedules.
My time with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office was incredible. I was given the opportunity to shadow deputies at local jails, sit in on all manner of court proceedings, attend regular ride alongs with police officers, and more. The deputies and officers with whom I worked were informative, encouraging, and professional. I can’t imagine a better internship experience, and my Sociology faculty counselor was there to guide me as I reflected on my observations. Thanks to the Sociological Internship Program, I am more confident than ever as I proceed towards graduate level education and a career as a lawyer.
Testimonial of Sociology Internship Experience at PACE Center for Girls
by Kaitlyn Sloley, BA 2020
As students, we're always encouraged to consider completing an internship. When I began to look into the Sociological Internship program, I was given a list of possible organizations at which I could intern. Because the field I want to go into is school counseling, I wasn't sure that I would find an internship that would provide a foundation for my pursuit of a master's degree in school counseling, and ultimately prepare me for a career in this field. I was also fearful that I would get stuck in an internship where I would be asked to do secretary duties.
To my surprise, I found an agency that seemed to be a perfect fit for my career interest -- PACE Center for Girls. PACE offers a voluntary program for girls between the ages of twelve and eighteen who did not quite succeed in the public school system. By joining PACE, these girls are able to learn in a smaller and more controlled setting, earn credits for the high school diploma, and receive guidance from trained counselors.
I was also pleased to discover that the Sociological Internship Program made sure that the internship experience was as beneficial for me as it was for the agency and the clients it serves. My faculty mentor met with me and my internship supervisor to compose a list of learning objectives, and by focusing on projects designed to achieve those objectives, I was assured that my internship experience would be a true learning experience for me.
While Interning at PACE, I had the opportunity and privilege to work closely with their school guidance counselor, while simultaneously getting the chance to network with many influential people in my desired field. I feel like I now have lifelong connections with these people. I spent a semester learning the role of a school counselor while being able to play the part with my own set of students in the Center. My responsibilities included: assisting students in creating plans and achieving goals; collaborating with students to do solution-based counseling; and focusing on and documenting the academic and social development of each individual student. I was able to do this all while also earning three credits towards my degree. I am so thankful to have been able to secure a role at PACE where I was able to utilize both my major in sociology and minor in women’s and gender studies while practicing and preparing for my future. It was truly a one-of-a-kind experience, and I encourage any and every student to consider doing it.