Internships and practicums provide bachelor’s and master’s degree students with valuable practical experience in their specific fields. An internship is a paid or unpaid position supervised by an employer at a business or nonprofit organization. Students benefit from applying to the knowledge gained through coursework, while also learning the realities of daily career responsibilities and determining the direction of their careers upon graduation. Internships are usually part-time during the school year, but can be full-time during the summer months. They can also provide college credit, depending on the program.
Teaching programs that require an internship or a practicum provide students with the opportunity to work in a classroom and gain valuable experience
Internships build resumes and professional networks, and some interns are hired directly after graduation by the companies or organizations that sponsored their internships. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) 2017 Internship & Co-op Report, 51% of interns become full-time employees upon graduation. Additionally, 56% of employers surveyed for the NACE’s Job Outlook 2017 Report prefer recent graduates to have related internship experience. In other words, an internship can be a crucial step to landing a job post-graduation.
Practicums are similar to internships, but are typically reserved for graduate students. Many master’s programs in teaching, social work, science, and clinical health require them for degree completion. Participants spend much of their time observing others working in the field, and also have the opportunity to apply lessons and theories learned through coursework. Students work under the direction of advisers or professors, and are usually evaluated for college credit.
As you consider Christian internships or practicums, it’s important to keep your career goals in mind. Your internship can lead to your first job, or it could help you determine which aspect of Christian ministry you’d like to pursue.
What to Expect From Your Internship or Practicum
What Will I Do for My Internship or Practicum?
Christian internships and practicums may differ according to the aspect of Christian ministry being studied, but they all provide hands-on learning opportunities. Participants are given similar responsibilities as employees. Interns in office settings attend meetings, complete administrative tasks, and may assist with special events and marketing campaigns. Missionary interns work directly with people in the communities being served, whether they are in the U.S. or abroad. This includes providing food, tutoring students, and teaching Bible studies. Interns work independently or in groups, but each reports to a supervisor that offers individual guidance and instruction.
Graduate students participating in Christian practicums are usually supervised by a professor. Common Christian practicums include church ministry serving children and youth, missions work, and Christian counseling. Counseling practicums are overseen by a licensed counselor, and interested students can search online for one willing to supervise them.
In Which Type of Setting Will I Work?
Locations vary for Christian internships and practicums; they can be in schools, offices, churches, nonprofit organizations, and counseling centers. Mission trips provide transformative field experiences, whether students travel to a U.S. community or go to an international location.
Students have the ability to direct their internship or practicum experience based on their personal interests and goals. Academic advisers are available to assist students with the search and application process, if necessary. Online degree students can participate in internships and practicums at locations convenient to them, with the approval of their adviser.
How Long Will My Internship or Practicum Last?
The time required of a Christian internship or practicum depends on the particular program, field of study, and academic level. A bachelor’s program in human services can require between 250 and 375 hours of internship experience, while a practicum for a graduate degree in Christian counseling can take up to 600 hours, depending on state licensing requirements. Mission internships can require an entire summer, semester, or year.
Interns typically work more hours per week than practicum participants, as they function similar to a part-time job. It’s important to carefully research the requirements of your particular degree, so you’ll have a clear understanding of what to expect for your internship or practicum.
Will I Get Paid for My Internship or Practicum?
Internships may be paid or unpaid, depending on the program and sponsoring employer. Students may choose unpaid internships if they deliver the right experience to build their professional networks and expand employment opportunities.
Practicums are most often unpaid, as professors serve as a student supervisors and the experience is required for successful completion of a program.
Will I Get Academic Credit for My Internship or Practicum?
Certain programs require internships, so students receive academic credit for them. However, many students pursue internships independently to gain field experience and develop their network of contacts. These student-led internships can sometimes provide college credit, if students include their academic advisers in the process. Credit is often granted when students demonstrate an internship’s value and relevance to their degree.
Practicums almost always provide students with academic credit, as they are a curriculum requirement for some programs. In addition to observation and field experience, practicums usually include assigned projects and papers. These academic deliverables are similar to other credit-granting courses.
Completing Internships Through Mission Trips
Mission trips provide service opportunities for students and recent graduates. They take place in underprivileged areas of the U.S. and overseas. Participants immerse themselves in the culture of the region they serve and explore the various circumstances affecting the population. Some of the initiatives missionaries assist with include poverty alleviation, education, housing, business training, and sharing the Gospel. Mission trips allow participants to live the Gospel and have a positive impact on the individuals and families they serve.
While some internships are directly related to the mission, others provide the occasion to learn more about the sponsoring organization by working in their offices
Short-term mission trips are typically two to three months long and are often held during the summer months. Some are even one-week in length and usually occur during spring breaks. Long-term mission trips are often overseas and can last from one to two years. Many missionaries feel they are called to the work and remain dedicated to it long after completing their degree.
Some mission trips provide Christian internship opportunities, which usually take place prior to the field work. While some internships are directly related to the mission, others provide the occasion to learn more about the sponsoring organization by working in their offices. You can identify mission trips that offer Christian internships by conducting online searches, meeting with your school’s career counselors, or attending job fairs.
Where to Find Christian Internships
Christian internships are available through organizations that minister to people in the U.S. and abroad. There are a variety of resources to help you identify one that aligns with your degree program, talents, and interests. Some places to begin your research are listed below.
Your School’s Career CenterStaff counselors assist you with identifying internship opportunities that meet your goals. They also provide resources to prepare you for resume writing, job searching, and interviewing.
Job FairsThese events are sponsored by colleges and organizations to promote employment. They provide job seekers an opportunity to meet local employers and discuss job openings. Employers also seek interns at job fairs.
Recruiting EventsOften sponsored by an organization or company, recruiting events provide candidates the chance to speak to hiring managers and learn more about the host organization. Recruiting events can also be similar to job expos or fairs, where multiple organizations are represented.
Alumni NetworkColleges and universities have online alumni organizations that offer a virtual setting for networking, volunteer activities, employment, and internships. These valuable networks connect graduates of all ages and geographic locations.
Job Boards and Internship DatabasesThese online databases offer thousands of internship and employment positions. Users can customize their searches by location, job type, and title. Some sites allow users to post their resumes to connect with potential employers.
Christian Counseling Internships
- Indeed This popular job search database provides listings of Christian counseling internships nationwide. Positions listed are both paid and unpaid.
- Biblical Counseling Coalition This organization shares jobs and Christian counseling internships at organizations that share its mission, which is providing Biblical counseling services dedicated to Jesus Christ and rooted in scripture.
- Safe Harbor Christian Counseling With multiple locations in eight states and he District of Columbia, this organization employs counselors dedicated to clinically sound Christian counseling. Christian counseling internships are available.
Christian Nonprofit Internships
- Christian Career Center This database for Christian job seekers features employment and internship listings, along with career development resources. Users have access to its sister job sites and can register for the Christian Career Center newsletter.
- The Gospel Coalition This organization comprises Evangelical churches dedicated to the Reformed tradition. It offers an online job board of nonprofit and church internships in the U.S. and abroad. Users can register to receive job listings by email.
- Internships.com Featuring thousands of internship listings nationwide, this online database includes paid and unpaid Christian nonprofit internships. Student and entry-level employment opportunities are also available.
Missions and Ministry Internships
- City Vision Internships This organization provides access to one-year and summer ministry internships. Students apply online to the undergraduate work study internship program or to the MBA Community Fellows Program. Scholarships are available.
- HOPE International Unpaid domestic and international ministry internships are available with this Gospel-based organization. It works to alleviate poverty through microloans, training, and savings programs.
- Compassion International, Inc. This global ministry organization seeks to transform the lives of children through Christ-centered poverty alleviation. It offers 10-week, paid Christian internships at the organization’s Global Ministry Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Students participate in mission trips prior to commencing their internships. Locations vary, but have included Mexico, Haiti, and Nicaragua.