Sociology and anthropology students focus on internships

An internship is an important step for students preparing for careers, particularly for sociology and anthropology students.

A variety of internships offered by the Truman State University Sociology and Anthropology department help students obtain practical experience in the field. A few of the local places SOAN students have interned with include Twin Pines, the Social Services Department as an assistant social worker, the Bruce Normile Juvenile Justice Center as a counselor and with Preferred Family Healthcare as an Adolescent Substance Abuse Worker.

Paul Shapiro, associate sociology professor and internship supervisor, says the greatest reason to complete an internship is to provide students with the opportunity to practice what they’ve learned in class in the field and obtain real life experiences.

“We provide pretty solid educational background, but it’s mostly theoretical,” Shapiro says. “If you work with the CASA [Court Appointed Special Advocate] group or the Department of Children and Family services, you will see real life examples and be able to understand these people from their real life places.”

Shapiro says SOAN students are advised to wait until their junior year before applying for an internship because they need enough educational background and a firm foundation to understand what they are doing during their internship.

The organizations offering SOAN internships are mostly local, he says, because the department doesn’t want the students to have to travel long distances.

However, internship opportunities are not limited to Kirksville and the Adair County area. Popular internships include the Salvation Army in Chicago, Project Transformation in Nashville and Teenage Refugee Center in Norway.

Senior sociology major David Phan says he completed an internship with Nine Network of Public Media, a Public Broadcast Service, in St. Louis this past summer. His job was to look at survey data and interpret open-ended questions and create a summary report for the survey data, Phan says.

“I learned a lot of hard skills from it,” Phan says. “My Microsoft Excel skills improved by a lot, and I learned how to use different softwares for Sociology work.”

Polly Matteson, assistant director of the Career Center, strongly advises students to take on an internship if they have the opportunity.

Matteson says from a student’s perspective, an internship is extremely valuable because it gives the student a period of time to find out more about the position, even if the internship is not for credit hours or is unpaid.

“I think that all students need to have work experience, and in the field that they want to go into so that they can understand what there is,” Matteson says. “And sometimes a student will find out that what they thought would be the dream job really isn’t what they like doing. So it’s a great opportunity to learn from that as well.”

For more information, contact Paul Shapiro at 660-785-4055 or or visit the SOAN website.