Host An Intern

Host An Intern

Civic Engagement Program

The practicum is a quarter-long substantive, practical education experience for students in the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP), where undergraduate students intern 30 hours/week, four days/week and attend a required seminar on Friday mornings. Students earn four academic credits for their experience and complete the experience during their junior year or the summer before or after it.  Students generally intern Monday - Thursday, which enables them to devote consistent and significant time to the organization.  Each evening students are expected to write field notes about their experience and then write a research paper for the seminar relevant to their academic concentration and experience.  The academic concentrations (majors) of our students are Human Development & Psychological Services, Learning & Organizational Change, Learning Sciences, and Social Policy. 

Practicum experiences may be paid or unpaid. Students receive academic credit for their experience, however it is greatly appreciated if your organization is able to provide the student with some form of compensation (ex. Hourly, stipend, CTA pass, etc.).


Benefits of Hosting a Practicum Student

Students are looking for practicum opportunities every quarter (fall, winter, spring and summer). Organizations have reported many advantages to hosting practicum students, including:

  • Students may offer a new “fresh” perspective on combatting the challenges faced by the organization.
  • The ability of the intern to devote consistent and significant time to a project(s).
  • Expanding the capacity of your organization/department to take on new projects or look more deeply into current projects.
  • Develop a rewarding mentoring relationship with a motivated, curious, intelligent and conscientious student.
  • While there is no expectation that practicum students will be hired on post-practicum, many have continued contributing to the organization by working part-time during school or full-time over the summer/after graduation.

Practicum Supervisor Testimonials

“Baxter International Inc. has been pleased to participate in Northwestern University's practicum program for more than twenty years.  We appreciate the talents and fresh perspective that the students bring to their Baxter intern experience.  Their collective contributions to various work projects have enhanced our ability to deliver quality employee and community programs.  We look forward to hosting future Wildcats!”

-Alice Campbell – Baxter International Inc, Global Community Relations


“Northwestern Practicum students are known in our office for being mature, professional, and performing high-quality work.  Their advanced skill-set combined with the time requirements of this program have resulted in a huge impact on our agency and our clients.  They are very enthusiastic and interested to learn more about our work as they refine their personal career goals.”

-Danielle Parisi Ruffatto – Domestic Violence Legal Clinic


“The US Department of Education's Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs has had an intern from Northwestern every summer for the past seven years.  We actually hold a spot in anticipation of receiving applications from several good candidates and it is always hard to choose among them.  Northwestern interns are very well-prepared for the detail oriented work we do, they arrive with excellent writing skills, curiosity, maturity and a level of sophistication many others don't have.  OLCA hired a Northwestern intern for a full time position after she graduated.  We were pleased to support her application to Harvard graduate school and Boston College law school.  We continue to stay in touch with each of the Northwestern interns and take pride in being a part of their success stories.”

-Doris Dixon – US Department of Education, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs (Washington, DC)


Criteria for Hosting a Practicum Student

All criteria for hosting a practicum student is outlined in the practicum contract. The basic criteria are:

  • The projects/responsibilities should be substantive and relevant to the student’s academic concentration. They should be appropriate for a quarter long, 30 hours/week, four day/week experience. Students must be available to attend the required seminar on Friday mornings.
  • There must be at least five professional employees in the office location with whom the student will regularly interact. The student should work from the school/office/organization daily (not from home), enabling them to experience working in that setting and with students/professionals/clients.
  • The student’s supervisor should have a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of relevant experience. The supervisor should provide the student with adequate training to begin their experience and should be regularly available to answer questions/offer advice. S/he should meet with the student for at least one hour/week (often ad hoc).
  • A representative of the organization (preferably the student’s supervisor) will need to go over and complete the SESP practicum contract with the student, outlining relevant information (ex. goals, responsibilities, dates, expectations, etc.) before the experience begins (see Important Upcoming Practicum Dates below). A midterm and final evaluation will also need to be completed by the supervisor, which provides the student and school with feedback about the student’s performance.


2017-2018 Practicum Dates

Quarter Students Begin Site Search Process Practicum Contract Due Practicum Dates
Fall 2017 April 3, 2017 May 26, 2017 September 19, 2017 – December 1, 2017
Winter 2018 September 25, 2017 November 21, 2017 January 8, 2018 – March 16, 2018
Spring 2018 January 15, 2018 March 9, 2018 April 3, 2018 – June 8, 2018
Summer 2018 January 15, 2018 San Fran/DC: April 27, 2018
Chicago: May 4, 2018
June 25, 2018 – August 24, 2018

Note: The practicum takes place in the Chicagoland area year-round. Over the summer it also takes place in San Francisco and Washington, DC.

If you would like to host a practicum student or have questions about the program, contact Nathan Frideres by e-mail n-frideres@northwestern.edu or call 847-491-5383 to discuss next steps.

Contact Us

Undergraduate Office

School of Education and Social Policy

2120 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208
Northwestern University

Phone: 847/491-3790

Email: sespinfo@sesp.northwestern.edu