Community Development Internship
As part of the college’s commitment to acknowledging Christ’s pre-eminence, the Department of Economics and Community Development desires to declare, discern, and unfold Christ’s Lordship over all things. The research internship is one component of the department’s efforts to equip students to develop a biblical perspective on the realities of poverty and development in the world. Research internships are experiential tools that can promote the skills, knowledge, and values that will enable students to progress toward maturity in their identity in Christ.
All community development majors are required to complete a 12-24 week research internship, which normally takes places after the students’ junior (third) year, during the months of May to November. Department faculty work with students and partners in the field to design, support, and evaluate these research internships. The internship gives students the opportunity to apply the theory, techniques, and research methods of their coursework by working in the context of less developed regions in the U.S or in an international context. Department faculty work with students to design and implement research projects related the work being undertaken by their host organizations in a less developed community.
A Research Internship Is:
- a required 12-24 week, 3-12 credit course for community development majors at a site away from Covenant College
- an intense learning experience for integrating theory and practice, deepening understanding, and challenging students
- an opportunity for deeper exposure to the community development field
- both research and work experience, not just research or just a work experience
- a full-time experience of at least 40 hours a week
To make the most of this experience, students must be diligent and committed to all of the work for the host organization, research design, and course requirements. A research internship is not a vacation.
Student Learning Goals for Internships
The research internship will contribute to the student’s learning of specific knowledge, attitudes, and skills that are important in the community development field. The following lists outline the department’s expectations in each area.
- Understanding of the relevancy and application of development theory and sector-specific interventions to the practice of community development
- Understanding of organizations/churches and their ministries
- Understanding of their own characteristics, abilities, and cultural framework
- Understanding of how difficult it is to help people and to work in and with churches/organizations
- Appreciation and respect for the people they serve
- Appreciation for thinking with a biblical perspective
- Valuing what they learned in the classroom
- Personal characteristics that include:
- Humility about themselves and their ideas
- Considering others better than themselves
- Confidence in using their abilities in positive ways
- Being reflective
- Being open-minded
- Taking responsibility for their own learning
A Broad Set of Problem-Solving Skills that Include
- Beginning to learn how to work with individuals, a church/organization, and a community in a different cultural and socioeconomic setting:
- Research skills that include conceptualizing a research question(s), collecting data, summarizing and analyzing data, and reporting findings.
- Sector-specific skills being used in the host organizations interventions.
- Cross-cultural interpretation and navigation skills that include but are not limited to asking good questions, listening, and responding appropriately.
- Management and administrative skills used in a church/organization.
- Practically considering the interests of others as more important than their own.
Research internships also provide students with an opportunity to learn and experience a number of other things that can include:
- Experiencing the lives of the poor by living and working with them;
- Cross-cultural friendships;
- Getting out of comfort zones;
- Experiencing holistic ministry in cross-cultural contexts;
- Ideas and data for the Capstone Project;
- Mentoring relationships with host staff or Covenant College faculty;
- Fulfilling the cross-cultural requirement for Covenant College;
- Motivation, enthusiasm and a professional orientation towards the field;
- Ideas for possible further scholarly or professional pursuits;
- Determining the nature of life work; and
- Relationships that might result in future employment and/or counsel.
What is a Host Organization?
A host church/organization can be any church or organization that is working holistically with economically impoverished people in the U.S. or internationally. It is best if the host organization shares the department’s goal of holistic reconciliation of relationships (people to God, self, others, and creation) and is conducting or desires to conduct development activities rather than solely mercy ministries or relief activities.
Desired Outcomes for a Host Organization
While results will vary from student to student, we desire that hosts can benefit from student internships in the following ways:
- Receive introductory and tentative answers to some research questions that the host organization might have about its ministries.
- The student can provide some of the difficult work, particularly in research, that the organization could not easily afford or find time to do on its own.
- The student could provide a new set of eyes that could be useful as a sounding board for ministry strategies.
- The student will become a friend and prayer partner of people in the host organization and the community.
- The student will become an advocate for the cause of the organization.
Responsibilities of a Host Organization
- The church/organization must have some question, issue, or problem which they would like to learn more about via intentional research to be done by the student.
- The church/organization must complete a research proposal (1-page form to be provided) which will help express the church’s/organization’s desire for the research and begin the process of designing the research.
- The host organization should sign an internship agreement with Covenant College.
- Help find housing for the student, ideally in the target community of the host church/organization and at the economic level of the members of the community.
- Work with a host family to determine the amount the student should pay for room and board and inform the student in advance.
- Identify a translator that the student can hire, should a translator be needed. (Ideally the translator should be the same sex as the student.)
- Let the student know in advance if the student should contribute any funds to the overhead costs of the host organization.
- Support the student in the research, provide supervision and oversight of the progress on the research, and help the student identify a sample population for research.
- Meet with the student every one to two weeks for supervision and support.
- Arrange a time for the student to present his/her research findings to the organization at the end of the internship.
- Submit a host evaluation form to the student’s academic supervisor at Covenant College.