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Intern aids a woman through the health care process.

The Internship Program is designed to assist you in gaining pre-professional experience and in establishing a professional identity in the human services field to enhance your appeal to potential employers. The internship is your opportunity to get work experience and to be a professional in a setting of your choice. Usually you will begin the internship process in your junior or senior year. The internship may be done in the fall, spring, or summer semesters. The internship is one full semester spent working as a professional in a setting of your choice. Generally you will work as a full-time professional (a minimum of 35 hours a week) for the semester. Because an internship requires full-time commitment at a professional work site, students are strongly discouraged from taking additional classes during the semester in which they conduct their internship. Even though you will spend one semester away from the University, you will be expected to enroll as a full-time student and pay full tuition.

The internship is one of the most valuable experiences you will have as part of your education at Penn State. Approach it seriously and think of it as an exciting time in your education. Remember, many students get their first job offer from their internship site or make contacts for possible future employment.

The Internship Program consists of three courses (14 credits):

HDFS 490: Introduction to Internship Experience (2 credits)

HDFS 490 is the first in the series of internship courses and should be taken one semester before your internship. HDFS 490 is offered fall and spring semester. The primary goal of this course is to prepare you for a successful undergraduate internship in your professional area of interest. In this course you will develop your résumé, learn job search techniques, research possible internship sites, and develop and complete an internship agreement (Internship Program Document). This document is an agreement between you, a suitable internship agency or organization, and the University. You must complete HDFS 490 with a minimum grade of "C" and have the instructor's approval before you can continue with the internship program.

HDFS 495A: Internship: Advanced Experience (9 credits)

Represents a full-time, one semester internship experience. Its focus is experiential learning accompanied by intensive supervision, provided by on-site personnel, as well as University based mentoring. Taken concurrently with HDFS 495B. You must enroll in the course 2-3 weeks prior to the end of the semester preceding the internship.

HDFS 495B: Internship: Assignments (3 credits)

There are three assignments for this part of the internship: The Organizational Analysis, Policy Analysis, and Personal Development paper. These assignments will be based on information and experience gathered at your internship. You must enroll in the course 2-3 weeks prior to the end of the semester preceding the internship.

Choosing an Internship Site

Even though HDFS 490 helps you with the details of making arrangements for your internship, it is important to be thinking about the internship prior to HDFS 490 (see the Career Planning webpages). If possible, try to volunteer at an agency before your internship or try to get a summer job in a related field. Then you will be ready to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What kinds of people or families do I want to help?
  • What kinds of problems am I interested in resolving?
  • What type of agency or organization do I want to work for during my internship?
  • What kind of professional experience do I want?
  • How will this internship experience fit into my short-term plans after I earn my degree?
  • Do I want to do my internship in a particular geographical area?

It is possible to choose internship agencies or organizations from among those previously used by the department or you may identify new sites. Although most students will complete their internships in agencies within Pennsylvania and surrounding states, you may request approval for completing your internship anywhere within the United States. Under special circumstances, the Department may also approve internship sites abroad.

You can also ask for advice regarding internship choices. For further questions regarding the Internship Program, contact Marc McCann (, your faculty adviser, academic adviser, or a trusted faculty member can also help you.

If you are interested in working with young children in a day care setting, see the webpage explaining the Intern/Student Teacher Application process.

More Information on the Internship Program can be found in frequently asked questions.

Contact Us

The HDFS Internship office is located in 133 Health and Human Development Building.

Administrative Coordinator for the Internship Program: Angela King, 865-2669.