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Master of Arts in International Studies


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Starter Kit

Here are a few "helpful hints" to consider when you begin the process of arranging your field experience:

1. Make every effort to incorporate intensive language training with your internship/field experience. This will be a great help in your language proficiency assessment (some programs can certify your language ability on a recognized scale, and those scores may determine your proficiency levels). Some internship placements may require a certain level of language ability beforehand. If your placement does not provide the option of language training, you may have to arrange that separately.

2. Early in your first semester, check with the Office of International Affairs (Ms. Brandi Dudley, Study Abroad Coordinator, 328-1937) and Career Services (Mr. Larry Donley, 328-1870).  They may have contacts with organizations where students have previously been placed. At a minimum, these offices will provide guidance and resources for your search (e.g., information about other universities' exchange programs or books that list international internships and co-op experiences). Of course, your search will be much more effective when you know the kind of internship/field experience (based on your concentration and your chosen foreign language) that would be best for you.

3. Early in your first semester, check with the Office of International Affairs to get information on grants and scholarships. Make sure to inquire about deadlines for applications. Studying abroad can be expensive, and a missed deadline for an application means you will be paying all expenses out-of-pocket.

4. Early in your first semester, contact professors (such as those listed in the MAIS Reports on Faculty Expertise) who have research/work experience in the country/region where you plan to acquire your field experience. Likewise, contact professors with applicable language skills. Some professors may also have professional contacts with organizations or governments through whom you can network.

5. You can also surf the Internet to search for international internship and/or language programs. As with any on-line information, it is important to double-check the authenticity and credibility of any program that you might choose. The Study Abroad Coordinator may have contacts with other universities who can help check the credibility of a particular program.

6. Familiarize yourself with the basic cultural nuances which you might encounter in the culture/region where you will be working. Keep an open mind once you arrive there, and remember that you are supposed to be learning about the other culture, not trying to force your culture on it. Also remember that returning home can generate a sense of reverse culture shock, so be prepared for readjustment.

7. If you will be doing research during your field experience, collect any data and literary resources you might eventually need. Quite often, such information will be nearly impossible to obtain once you have returned home. Even if you have to bring back information printed in another language, you can always translate it at a later date if you have it with you.

8. Write your background statement of intent for your field experience and have it reviewed and approved by the MAIS Field Experience Supervisor before you leave. Also, plan to keep a weekly journal while you are abroad. Besides being a great keepsake, a thorough journal is vital to the process of creating your field experience portfolio.

9. Before you depart on your field experience, you must sign a legal waiver form, which you can obtain from the MAIS Field Experience Supervisor.

10. You should also consider purchasing travel health insurance to cover any unforeseen health care costs while you are abroad. The Study Abroad Coordinator can provide information on affordable short-term policies for students.