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Ask HN: Internships in Social Work
2 points by humdrum17 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 2 comments
I have a friend in college with me who is looking for internships in Social Work. She's had a lot of success finding smaller internships around our university, but I don't think she found any of them really fulfilling. I believe she's looking for larger opportunities in cities like Chicago, but usually she's told that these opportunities are only available for graduate students.

I wasn't sure how much truth there was to that statement (I'm a CS major), and please let me know if there is/isn't. But perhaps more importantly, I'm trying to come up with some tech companies or social startups (large or small) that might be oriented enough in the Social Work direction to be fulfilling for her.

Does anyone have any ideas? She's doing very well academically and extracurricularly, and in general she's an amazing person and I'd like to see her able to do what she loves to do.




My beloved is a clinical social worker, adjunct professor, and has supervised social work interns.

To a first approximation, social work internships tend to be focused on graduate students because an accredited graduate degree is typically a required credential for professional licensure and internship (field placement) is typically part of the accreditation criteria.

Because licensure occurs at the state level it is not applicable to US Federal agencies. This, at least on paper, may open up internship opportunities to undergraduates at places like the Veterans Administration and civilian positions with the Department of Defense.

That said, competitive internships are going to favor graduate students and Federal internships are often more competitive in desirable locations than in less desirable locations. An undergraduate major has a better shot in places where there is not a ready supply of graduate students. And more competitive than other social work internships because they are always paid internships.

In terms of career, a bachelor's degree does not open a lot of doors in social work. Typically industry hires bachelor's level social workers because they are cheaper than licensed social workers and social work is not a high paid field to begin with.

As for tech, social work is done on a case by case basis so it does not really scale via automation. The few therapy/counseling platforms I've seen use licensed therapists (a social worker needs a clinical social work degree (among other requirements)). A social work degree is might be adequate for a sales or administrative role for the same reasons as a liberal arts degree...all this with the caveat that there may be a startup out there that is looking specifically for bachelor of social work candidates -- such a company probably has the pick of the litter.

Anyway, good luck to you and your friend.


Totally agree with brudgers, all of that seems to be the case for my wife, who is currently going through a masters program.

In regards to the tech companies, I cannot think of one that would fit this case, and if she is looking for a future career as a clinical social worker, a somewhat related position NOT using a license at a tech company wouldn't be all that relevant.




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