Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work

Frequently Asked Questions

BSW and Generalist (first-level) MSW Internship Questions

Below are frequently asked questions about the internship process. If the answer to your question is not listed, please contact your Internship Coordinator.

This internship is designed to provide you with the basic skills that will prepare you for your specialized (second-level) internship. You will be exposed to the first 4 of the 10 core competencies that define and characterize social work:

  • Competency 1: Identify as a professional social work intern and conduct oneself accordingly
  • Competency 2: Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice
  • Competency 3: Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments
  • Competency 4: Engage diversity and difference in practice

The Career Development Center is an excellent resource for all things related to the job search process, including cover letters. A basic cover letter should include three parts:

  • Introduction: Who you are, what position you are interested in, where you heard about it, and why you are interested in that position
  • Body: A series of connections between your experiences (from resume) and the demands of the position you are interested in.
  • Wrap-up/Thank you: Summarize your qualifications, offer your contact information, and thank the reader for their time and consideration.

For your interviews, you want to look professional. This means wearing nice pants/skirt/dress and a nice shirt.

You should follow up with a thank-you e-mail within 24 hours of your interview. The thank-you is an opportunity to make you stand out from other candidates and reiterate your interest in the internship position as well as highlight the qualities you possess that make you an ideal candidate. 

All students are to complete an application (either BSW or MSW) accessible via a link found here. Students may schedule interviews via Zoom, or if the agency prefers an in-person meeting, students may travel to Chicago for the interview and relocate to Chicago at a later date.

The process itself does not differ for part-time students. All the requirements of the internship remain the same. However, part-time students may begin their internship later. Most full-time students begin their first-level internship within their first 2 terms. Part-time students may begin their internship later.

If you receive an offer from more than one agency, you may request additional time to consider it. You want to be specific with the amount of time requested and when you will follow up (i.e., Can I please take 5 business days and get back to you next Monday, May 7?). You may also inquire as to when they would like a response/reply. This is reasonable as the field sites are interviewing several candidates and they are aware that you too are interviewing with other agencies. As you work to make a decision and consider the offers, reflect upon how you felt at the site and during the interview. Did you connect with the people at the site? Were you interested in the kinds of things you would be expected to do? Did you get a sense of whether or not the site would be a good fit and a good balance between your strengths/skills and what you still need to learn in the field of social work? You may wish to consult with the Internship Coordinator for another perspective if necessary. Then, formally accept and/or decline the offer(s) via email.

If a site offers you an internship and you want to accept, you may do so. Upon accepting an internship, you would need to inform any other agencies of your need to cancel the interview as you have accepted an offer from another agency. Other options would be to request a specified time frame to consider the offer or be transparent and inform the agency that you have other interviews scheduled and you would like the opportunity to explore your options.

Students do not need to have prior experience in social work to obtain or excel in a generalist (first-level) internship. Agencies are aware that students have a variety of previous education and work experiences and will provide adequate training for you to succeed.

Students will be trained by their Field Instructor (agency supervisor) and will have the support of a Field Liaison.

Students who are interested in specific agencies or internship sites that are not currently a Loyola partner should reach out to the internship coordinator to receive approval to move forward with the site.

The School of Social Work collaboratively works with students, faculty, and the Student Accessibility Center (SAC) to ensure accessibility in and out of the classroom. The implementation of academic accommodations is a shared responsibility between the student, faculty, and SAC. Please contact the SAC to discuss accommodations for internship placement. We recommend that you contact SAC prior to applying for your generalist (first-level) or specialized (second-level) internship. 

A great way to prepare is to do a little research on the agency - what types of services do they provide, what population do they serve, etc.

Students may complete an internship at their place of employment; however, there are requirements for a student’s workplace to become an approved partner agency. The student must first submit a detailed proposal. In addition, the agency/place of employment must complete an application to become a Field Partner. Please see the School of Social Work Internship Manual for additional information.

Internships are traditionally unpaid positions.

The generalist (first-level) internship is 400 hours, performed at the rate of 16 hours per week on Tuesday and Thursday during normal business hours. The specialized (second-level) internship is 600 hours performed at the rate of 24 hours per week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during normal business hours.

A limited number of summer block internships are available for one of the internships. The block consists of 35-40 hours per week, Monday–Friday, again during normal business hours.

Generalist (first-level) internships are not typically clinical in nature. However, the degree of clinical experience offered at a generalist (first-level) internship depends on the site. Specialized (second-level) internships for the students in the micro specialization are clinical.

Unless there is a significant concern or a significant conflict that cannot be resolved, internships cannot be changed. Your Field Liaison is a critical resource to help manage any challenges that may arise during the generalist (first-level) internship experience. 

Supervision is a meeting between the student and Field Instructor (supervisor), which includes case consultation, discussion of the student’s concerns and questions, and any other relevant discussions about the student’s learning and progress at the site. These meetings are typically weekly, but this may differ based on on-site set-up and Field Instructor.

Students are encouraged to first approach their Field Instructor about their concerns. This is often difficult for students as the student may be concerned about repercussions or receiving a poor evaluation. However, this is the recommended course of action and students are encouraged to report their concerns as a preface to discussing inadequate supervision. When students are unable to approach their Field Instructor, the next resource is their Field Liaison. The role of the Field Liaison is to be a bridge between the student and their Field Instructor and foster the learning and engagement of the student and support the Field Instructor to provide an optimal learning environment for the student.  

Students need to enroll in SWFI 530 & SWFI 530S. The only required course to take concurrently with a generalist (first-level) internship is SWFI 530S. 

The generalist (first-level) internship requires 16 hours per week (for Fall and Spring start terms), and the specialized (second-level) internship increases to 24 hours per week (for Fall and Spring start terms). We recommend you plan and discuss the internship expectations with your employer.