4.5 Field Placement in an Employing Agency

Students may be approved for field placement in an agency where they are or have been employed if the agency is able to confirm they can provide:

  1. substantial learning opportunities that are specifically related to all identified competencies for Berkeley MSW field education requirements, and that are equivalent to those available at approved internship sites outside of the student’s employment; and

  2. a qualified Field Instructor who can dedicate the time required for educational supervision.

Approval of employment setting-based field placement is not automatic. Students seeking to complete a field placement in an employment setting must collaborate with their employing agency and assigned Field Consultant faculty or the Chair of Field Education to develop and submit a written request that:

  1. Proposes an appropriate MSW field education internship portion of employment that meets all Berkeley MSW field education standards and requirements

  2. Identifies the qualified field instructor.

  3. Proposes an appropriate field placement internship schedule.

  4. Identifies new or enhanced tasks or project assignments that are separate from regular, day-to-day employment duties and that map directly to all identified competencies for the field education program.

  5. Anticipates problems and identify resolution strategies in advance.

Supporting materials for an employing agency-based field placement typically include the student’s resume and a copy of their current job description.

The Chair of Field Education is responsible for evaluating and approving requests for employment-based field placements and determining if the proposed placement arrangement meets all standards and requirements for the Berkeley MSW field education program. As part of this determination process, field program faculty and administrators typically meet with the student to review the proposal, and confirm the student’s understanding of the educational costs and benefits of this arrangement vis-à-vis other available field placement opportunities. Students may also be asked to interview concurrently for other types of field placements so that they can fully consider the comparable educational benefits of all potential MSW field education placement opportunities.

Before approving the request, we always confer with the intended agency-based field instructor and program manager to ensure that all educational requirements can be met throughout the intended duration. We offer strategies to protect the students' learning and to separate out educational goals from their employer-based needs. Specifically, we discuss “time walls” between their educational time and their employment time so that there will be an accurate accounting of each and a separate reporting and evaluation relationship for each. Finally, we enlist their commitment to continue the student’s educational internship for the entire length of the intended duration even if employment should cease for whatever reason.

In exceptional circumstances, the Chair of Field Education may approve a student to complete both of their placements in one agency where they are or have also been employed. This generally involves consideration of the student’s career goals, the type of agency, the variation and quality of learning assignments available for both placements, and a comparative analysis of the benefits of other available placements that may enrich and broaden the student’s graduate learning.

If we become aware that field learning tasks or educational supervision are not occurring as planned, we reserve the right to terminate the employer-based placement and to ask the student to complete another educational placement of full length. Although we encourage the agency and the student to make clear agreements about pay and benefits during the internship portion of employment, Berkeley Social Welfare cannot enforce agreements related to employment, only those related to field education standards. With these processes and protections in place, it has been our experience that employment-based field placements can be viable and advantageous in many situations.