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The Penn State Human Development and Family Studies Internship Program will:

  • Assist you in gaining pre-professional experience
  • Establish an entry level professional identity in the human services field
  • 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. The internship is one of the most valuable educational experiences you will have. In difficult economic times, a successful 480 hour internship in your chosen career field will prove a huge advantage in your job search. Invest significant effort investigating and choosing your internship!

Approximately 60% of the 2012 college graduates who took part in paid internships received at least one job offer, according to the results of a new study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. (NACE)

52% of Penn State Brandywine HDFS interns are in full-time human service employment for their required academic internship. (2008 – December, 2012.)

74% of Penn State Brandywine HDFS interns either have a professional job or at least one professional job offer by the time they graduate with their B.S. degree in HDFS. (2008 – December, 2012)

Theresa Gillespie

“One of the most useful things in the internship was learning how to think through things that happened with our clients. Sharing with our classmates in the weekly internship seminar course helped us to develop useful ways of understanding experiences during our internship …and to figure out how to successfully manage situations or behaviors in a positive, professional way!”
Teresa Gillespie, Class of fall 2012


Marisa Thomas

"I have learned so much from this experience. I feel so much more comfortable in the early learning professional field compared to the beginning of my internship. Personally, I have grown in knowledge, skill and confidence. I am proud of what I have accomplished."
Marisa Thomas, Class of fall 2012


Dollie Smallwood

“I came in this internship with confidence knowing that even if I wasn’t competent in the tasks assigned that I would make myself competent by learning through observation and asking questions. Within two weeks, I was able to successfully complete the minimal tasks my internship required. By the end of the internship, I was a competent entry level professional. What brings me the greatest satisfaction is helping children with special needs, finding them resources to maintain a stable and positive life with families. I now find myself thinking about a graduate degree in counseling or educating special needs children.”
Dollie Smallwood, Class of fall 2012


Nick Dibello

“Through my internship I have learned that I am able to understand and do more than I ever thought I could. Research that I read in my HDFS courses prepared me to better understand children and cases. I always knew I wanted to be an occupational therapist, but I never really thought about what graduate school I wanted to attend. I have now looked at schools and set my sights on specifically what needs to be done to accomplish my final career goal.”
Nick DiBello, Class of fall 2012


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 locally, nationally or internationally. Penn State Brandywine HDFS students have completed internships in the tri-state region, Georgia, Florida, Texas, the UK and Southeast Asia.

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

SEMESTER 1 (Next to last semester)
HDFS 490 (2 cr.) Project Planning, Implementation and Evaluation

SEMESTER 2 (Final semester)
HDFS 495A (9 cr.) Internship: Advanced Practicum, 480 hours
HDFS 495B (3 cr. Internship Seminar: One evening a week

HDFS 490: INTRODUCTION TO INTERNSHIP SEARCH AND EXPERIENCE (2 credits)
HDFS 490 is the first in the series of internship courses and should be taken one semester before your internship (unless you are pursuing a child life internship--see above). HDFS 490 is offered fall and spring semester. Usually you will begin the internship process in the second half of your junior year by applying to enter HDFS 490.

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:

  1. Develop your résumé
  2. Job search techniques
  3. Research possible internship sites
  4. Develop and complete an internship agreement (Internship Program Document). This document is a legally binding contract between you, a suitable internship agency or organization, and the University. You must complete HDFS 490 with a minimum grade of "C" and have instructor's approval of the internship site before entering HDFS 495A and B.

You must successfully complete the introductory course, HDFS 490, before you enroll in your internship. No exceptions are made in this sequence. It is recommended that you schedule HDFS 490 ONE semester before your internship, unless you are planning to do a Child Life or International internship. HDFS 490 needs to be scheduled TWO semesters prior to your internship due to the prerequisites for child life internships, which include 100 hours of volunteer work and early application, and the challenges of securing international internships.

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! 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?
  • Do I want to do my internship in a particular geographical are

HDFS 495A: INTERNSHIP: ADVANCED EXPERIENCE (9 credits)
Interns work 32- 35 hours weekly for ~ 15 weeks to complete the required total of 480 hours, one semester internship experience. Its focus is experiential learning accompanied by intensive supervision, provided by an on-site supervisor, as well as Penn State Faculty-based instruction and mentoring. HDFS 495A is taken concurrently with HDFS 495B. The internship can be completed during either the fall or spring semesters.  It 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 32 hours a week) for the semester. You will enroll as a full-time student and pay tuition for the registered twelve credits of required HDFS 495A and B coursework.

HDFS 495B: INTERNSHIP: Internship Seminar (3 credits)
495B meets on campus one evening a week from 6:10 – 8:40. Assignments will be based on information and experience gathered at your internship. Interns find that the active reflection and processing of the internship experiences and the supportive community of fellow interns make this class both enjoyable and invaluable.

Written permission to register for HDFS 495A and B is provided after all internship paperwork is complete, submitted and the internship and site has been formally approved by the HDFS Field Coordinator. In addition, students need to be Brandywine HDFS majors (this will show on the degree audit as “HFSCC LSHS)  in order to register for HDFS 495A and 495B and course registration must be COMPLETE before they begin any form of internship hours.


HDFS FIELD COORDINATOR: KATHY MEEHAN
Meehan Faculty webpage
For further questions regarding the Internship Program, please contact Brandywine HDFS Field Coordinator Ms. Kathy Meehan at KXM67@psu.edu.