A man shaking hands with a social worker.

Earning your degree in social work is a process that takes valuable time. In those years you gain experience and become comfortable in your field, allowing you to be the best version of yourself. Completing a social work internship is important for getting your bachelor’s degree in social work. Before your internship, it’s important to think about the goals for field placement and how they will help propel your future career.

What is Field Placement in Social Work?

Social work field placement refers to working in the field under a supervised capacity, designed to enhance your professional skills. Examples of field placement include traineeships or internships. During this time you can work in various settings, preferably one you have previous experience in or are planning to work in. This can include working in a school, college, social service agency, or career center.

10 Social Work Internship Goals

These ten objectives are good for both students and supervisors alike to follow. These goals for your social work field placement should be followed thoroughly to get the most out of the internship experience.

1. Professional Conduct

This is a major goal for a social work intern’s field placement. As a social worker or intern, one needs to participate in an agency’s orientation and take thorough notes, ensuring to follow the agency’s policies to the best of their ability. Social work goals start with the social worker, and their ability to be professional and courteous while on the job.

2. Ethical Principles

Another goal for an intern’s social work field placement is to ensure the ethics you have been taught in the classroom are applied in real-life situations. This involves discussing the NASW Code of Ethics, bringing ethical concerns to a supervisor during meetings, exploring personal biases in journal reflections, and more.

3. Professional Judgment 

Critical thinking needs to be implemented with the agency’s planned change process. This involves collecting relevant information during intakes and making sure the intern utilizes this information to implement personal goals for field placement. This includes applying theories you have learned in the classroom during your casework and demonstrating to your supervisor that you possess a wide range of knowledge and know how to utilize this knowledge for casework.

4. Engage Diversity

Every social worker must have experience working with people from backgrounds that are different from their own. A primary social work internship goal is to develop engagement skills needed when working with a diverse population. As a trainer or trainee, this exposure is necessary for fully discussing the effects of individual and institutional oppression.

5. Advance Human Rights 

Along those lines of engagement with a diverse background, the social work intern is expected to help advance human rights by learning about social issues and policies relevant to the agency they have been assigned to. Social work field placement must prioritize the communication between the intern and their supervisor so they can learn how social policies can affect the client and their community. An important part of getting your bachelor’s degree in social work is exploring and identifying ways of empowering the client’s community.

6. Engage in Research-Informed Practice

Social work interns should complete a short literature review of the agency services, in which, the intern will present their findings to their supervisor or staff. This review will demonstrate what they have learned and gained from their experience at the agency. Before this review is conducted, the intern should talk to their supervisor about how services are evaluated at the agency. These social work internship goals should center around client service-related best practices. This can be done by assessing program services and interventions through surveys, organized data, reports, and more.

7. Apply Knowledge of Human Behavior 

A social work intern should demonstrate to their supervisor that they can apply the theories they have acquired from school and apply these frameworks in the field effectively and professionally. During supervisor meetings where the goals of the field placement are discussed, the intern or supervisor should take time out of the meeting to talk about human development stages that are relevant to the casework being conducted. The intern is expected to bring the Human Development textbook to the agency for these meetings to be used as a reference and to demonstrate their competence.

8. Engage in Policy Practice 

Another goal for social work internships is to successfully work within the agency’s policies to help clients and their communities. An intern should be involved while working for the agency, participating in staff meetings, actively taking notes, and following up with their supervisor after. It’s also important that the intern and supervisor discuss possible alternatives to the existing policies, along with how these policies (both the existing and hypothetical ones) will affect clients, their families, and their communities.

9. Responses That Shape Practice

An intern should discuss the possible contextual influences on a case with their supervisor. This can be done in numerous ways: the intern can apply the Ecological approach to the case by developing an EcoMap or a genogram of a case. These maps should be discussed in meetings between the intern and their supervisor, covering topics such as political change, funding changes, and more. Talking about how these services can change due to events outside the control of the agency will help prepare the intern for the unpredictable.

10. Properly Engage 

Finally, an intern needs to work with clients face-to-face before they can receive their bachelor’s degree. During this time, the intern will practice engagement techniques with clients. Using the models taught to them by the agency, the intern will approach their work professionally and effectively. They will complete home visits with another agency staff member present, identify and provide relevant resources, and communicate agency expectations with the clients.

Social Worker and child talking.

Preparing Students for the Future of Social Work

Our program emphasizes integrating theory with practical experience. Through a mentorship-driven social work field placement, we guide our students in developing a strong professional identity to prepare them for the multifaceted roles they will pursue post-graduation. By recognizing the benefits that diversity brings to learning and practice, we encourage exposure to various cultural and interdisciplinary perspectives. This ensures our students are not just ready to meet the current demands of the field but are also equipped to innovate and lead in the social work field.

Are You Ready For A Degree in Social Work

Empowering a community, client, or family is a real chance to make a difference. Do these goals for social work internships inspire you? If so, apply to St. Augustine College to earn your Bachelor of Social Work. SAC’s Social Work program opens doors, creating a range of opportunities for our graduates. Contact us to learn more about starting your path toward a career in social work that can make the world a better place.