You may choose one of the following options for your internship:
A) Select a site from the list of pre-approved internship sites
B) Find your own site
You should begin your search in the semester prior to your internship. Since all of the required paperwork is due by the last day of classes in the semester prior to your internship, you should start contacting potential sites midway through the semester. Keep in mind these organizations are generally very busy and it may take some time for them to get back to you and arrange for an interview. Do not wait until the last week in the semester to try to find a placement.
Preparation for your Search
Before you can even contact internship sites, you should have a resume or CV ready. It is highly recommended that you have Career Services review and critique your resume. They offer walk in advising from 1-4PM Monday-Friday in Goodell 511. You can also make an appointment. You should also create a Career Connect account on their website.
Your choice of internship should reflect your career goals. It is recommended that you select an internship site that would allow you to observe the type of professional you one day hope to become (e.g., speech language pathologist, social worker). You may want to spend some time reflecting on your options before you begin your search.
The internship is also a great time to get out of your comfort zone. If you have a lot of experience working or volunteering with children with disabilities, this would be a great time to explore internship sites with adults with disabilities.
It is generally recommended that you take at least 1-2 related courses before you complete your internship. PSYCH 480: Intellectual Disability would be the preferred DDHS course, but you may find a different course would sufficiently prepare you (e.g., Introduction to Special Education, Speech and Language Disorders). If you are planning to do an internship in a site that uses Applied Behavior Analysis, it is recommended that you take PSYCH 581: Applied Behavior Analysis prior to or during your internship.
Select Sites of Interest
From the list of pre-approved sites, select 1-3 that interest you most. Read the site descriptions and student reviews. Be sure to visit their website, which may answer some basic questions about the population they work with or the services they offer.
If you are interested in sites beyond the pre-approved list, you should also make a list of 1-3 that interest you. To count toward the DDHS internship requirement, these internships must 1) involve working directly with people with disabilities (preferably intellectual and developmental), 2) have sufficient supervision. Before contacting the internship site, you should make sure it meets expectations by emailing the program director, Ashley Woodman.
Contact the Sites
Start by contacting your top choice. Contact the person listed on the site description on the DDHS website by phone or email. This person may not be your supervisor during your internship, but has been identified by the organization as the first point of contact for students in our program. Your email is your first impression, so please address the contact person professionally (e.g., Dear Dr. Smith), introduce yourself, and attach your resume. You should also mention that you are part of the Developmental Disabilities and Human Services program at UMass Amherst. If they are a community partner, they should be familiar with this program. Most sites will request an interview.
If you don’t get a response, you can follow up after a few days. If you don’t hear anything within a week or two, please notify the program director. In the meantime, you can contact 1-2 additional sites of interest. It is not recommended that you contact many sites all at once.
You should treat the first meeting with your internship site as a professional interview. This means you should dress professionally, arrive early, and bring a hard copy of your resume. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself and your background and ask questions about the organization. You may want to ask questions about scheduling and responsibilities for interns. You should not enter this interview assuming that you will be given the internship. If for some reason you cannot attend a scheduled interview, notify the contact person as soon as possible. Remember, you are representing UMass Amherst and the DDHS program – make us proud!