What is it Like to Have Off-Campus Field Experience?

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April 29, 2022 by

Several majors — like education, social work, and nursing — at Cedarville require off-campus field experience.  As a social work major, I knew from freshman year that I would have an internship my junior and senior year. I have to admit that I was intimidated by the idea of an internship because I did not really know what to expect and was nervous about balancing my field experience with my other classes. There are several things I expected and some things that I have been surprised by as I have entered the world of internships as a Cedarville student. Here are some things to know about what it is like to have off-campus field experience: 

 

Your schedule will look different 

 

Having field experience during your school day means that you will have fewer classes to attend, as your field experience will account for some of your credits. My senior internship currently accounts for 6 of my 15 credit hours, so I only have 3 classes on campus. Although my internship takes up more than 6 hours of my week, I do not have any homework to complete for these credits. This can be a benefit because I have less homework on the weekends and fewer exams to take during finals week.  

I am currently completing my senior social work internship, which requires me to be off campus for the entire school day, two-three days each week. I have had to be very intentional with my schedule this year, because on days that I have my internship, I am only able to work on homework in the evening. I have also had to navigate keeping up with my on-campus job and adjusting my work schedule based on the days I will be off campus. Since I have to earn all my required hours for field experience in order to graduate, my internship has had to be a high priority in my life this year. 

 

You may feel “out of the loop” at times 

One of the biggest adjustments I experienced when I started my junior internship last year was missing chapel a couple of days each week. Chapel is a significant aspect of Cedarville’s community, and it is often where important announcements are made. There have been many times where I felt “out of the loop” about what is going on around campus. Thankfully, we receive a lot of emails every day, so I can still make an effort to keep up! If there is an event happening on campus (like the missions conference this past January), I am often not able to be a part of all of it. Thankfully, my classmates experience the same things that I do, so I have an additional community among those who are dealing with these same feelings. Despite the things I have missed this year due to being off campus during some school days, I have still been able to be connected on campus. Many of our fun events (TNLs, recitals, intramural sports, ALT nights, etc.) take place in the evenings or on the weekends, so I have still been able to participate in a lot of community events this year.  

 

You will be transitioning back and forth between the world and the Cedarville community 

Last year I interned at a domestic violence shelter, and this year I am interning with a hospice agency. Both of these environments can be tough to process at times, as I have worked with a lot of hurting people and have heard many heartbreaking stories. There are times when it feels kind of strange to transition from that environment back to Cedarville’s campus. I spend the day being professional as a social worker and then I come back to my residence hall, switch out my dress clothes for sweatpants and crocs, and head to the dining hall as a normal student again. At times I feel as though I am constantly changing my role and environment. One of the fun aspects of this transition has been the opportunity to get to know a new area. Last year my field experience was in a bigger city near Cedarville, and I really enjoyed being a part of that community for the school year.  

 

You will experience a variety of the community’s perceptions about Cedarville 

One thing I have observed through my own field experience and through the experiences of my peers is that most of the agencies surrounding Cedarville have somewhat of an idea that Cedarville is a private Christian school. Many have a positive perception about Cedarville, but there are some that are negative or critical toward Cedarville’s values. I have had some co-workers at my internship be more “careful” around me because they know that I am a Cedarville student, and I have heard from a couple of my peers that some people have made negative or teasing comments to them. On the other hand, I have gotten into a lot of really cool discussions because the staff at my internships have been aware of my worldview. There have been several times where a staff member has started a conversation based on my faith and it has led to a Gospel conversation.  

 

Overall, being in the community has really helped me to solidify what I believe and stand for as my own person, apart from Cedarville. I feel that my time in my internships has helped to prepare me for life after Cedarville, as I have had opportunities where my faith has been tested and my witness for Christ has become real. I have been really burdened by the importance of staying in the Word as my foundation. My time at Cedarville has been so special, but the reality is that it is limited. I am thankful for the ways that my off-campus field experience has prepared me to make a difference for Christ in the world.  

 

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