FALL SEMESTER ONLY (WGST 393); Contact Course Instructor Prof. Karen Booth for permission
The Department of Women’s and Gender Studies Internship Program (WGST 393) allows students the opportunity to receive course credit while gaining practical experience in a variety of fields concerned with feminist issues. The internship has two components: (1) work in a local agency and (2) a weekly class taught by a WGST faculty member.
- Work in a local agency: under the supervision of qualified professionals, interns complete a minimum of 84 hours (not including training) directly contributing to the work of their chosen organization by planning programs, researching, interacting with clients, and completing other projects. Students learn first-hand about legal, policy, and counseling work in many fields, including reproductive health; child development; sexual assault; domestic violence; and substance abuse and recovery.
- Weekly class: while gaining practical, hand-on, experience at an organization, students also meet once a week with other interns and a WGST faculty member to discuss their work. As part of the course, students think through the possibilities, strategies, and ethical issues associated with service learning and the significant power inequalities that often emerge in “the field.” Students will gain an understanding of feminist ethics, organizing, and activism and of how structures for feminist work are implemented and supported over the course of an organization’s life.
The three-credit course fulfills the general education “experiential education” (EE) requirement, the IDEAS in Action FC-KNOWING or FC-VALUES, & HI-INTERN requirements, and, for WGST majors and minors, can replace one “perspectives” course. Students must arrange the internship with the organization and secure the permission of the faculty member prior to registering for WGST 393.
Offered Fall semester only. Prerequisites: WGST 101 and instructor permission. (EE)
Internship Required Forms
Agencies currently accepting WGST interns
- Adolescent Parenting Program
- Carolina Hunger Initiative
- Child Care Services Association
- Compass Center for Women and Families (formally The Women’s Center and FVPC)
- El Pueblo
- Orange County Rape Crisis Center
- Orange County Sheriff’s Office/Crisis Intervention Unit
- UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention*
- UNC Horizons Program*
*We encourage students to consider off-campus internships first, before considering these on-campus or UNC-affiliated off-campus sites
Sterling Dennis, Class of 2025
“The organization I am interning for is the Orange County Rape Crisis Center (OCRCC). Their mission is ‘to stop sexual violence and its impact through support, education and advocacy’. Specifically, I am working in the education program. This involves teaching safe touch, a 30 minute lesson on sexual violence and prevention, to Orange County, Chapel Hill and Carrboro public schools. Beginning training and meeting with my advisor I am very excited for my time at OCRCC. There is a very supportive network of staff who prioritize personal well being due to the sensitive subject matter we are working with. Everyone seems very committed to the mission and furthering rights for all individuals. I hope that throughout my time here I will learn how to better implement strategies to counter oppression and how to organize and execute activists goals.”
Hallie Arnott, Class of 2024
“I have been selected to intern at Child Care Services Association, which is more commonly known as CCSA. CCSA is a local organization in Chapel Hill that focuses on improvement of the quality of childcare in North Carolina by assisting families and communities with locating child care and holding informational events, professional development opportunities, and educational programs for child care providers. I was able to go into the office for the first time [recently], and I found that my colleagues are all extremely supportive and open to my ideas. Even though the staff mainly works from home, I think that the culture is very welcoming and kind, and I look forward to the hybrid setting. I chose this location to do my internship because I have not worked a ton with event planning and/or marketing, and I wanted to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and apply my skills to something new. I will be mainly helping CCSA plan out their 50th anniversary by interviewing long-tenured employees, marketing and using social media to promote information more accessibly and efficiently, and effectively learning how to make an impact in a local nonprofit organization. I can’t wait to get started!”
Margaret Gourley, Class of 2024
“For my internship, I am working at the UNC Horizons Program, which is housed under the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UNC School of Medicine. This organization is a substance use disorder treatment program for pregnant and/or parenting women and their children, including those whose lives have been touched by abuse and violence. This comprehensive recovery organization aims to end intergenerational substance use through prenatal and OB-GYN care, psychiatric services, individual and group counseling, and medication-assisted treatment for opioid dependence. For Horizons, I will be using my background knowledge from my studies to further the nutrition understanding and curriculum. In addition, I will be taking clinical notes during group counseling, shadowing their OB/GYN physician, and meeting with Horizons staff to learn more about their background and perspectives.”
Kasanna Samai Allen-Veth, Class of 2024
“I did a summer internship at the Women’s Resource Center of Greensboro last year, which opened my eyes to the potential of my degree. I learned so much about the balance of compassion and professionalism that comes in our field. I was so happy to be connected to The Compass Center of Chapel Hill, which is a Women and LGBTQ+ resource center that focused on domestic violence survivors. It sounds silly, but watching ‘Maid’ on Netflix really influenced my decision. I really resonated with it as a child of a struggling young single mom who needed government and organizational assistance. My initial impression of The Compass Center was the disorganization that comes with non-profit work, which for someone like me does induce stress. As soon as I expressed this to them, they immediately helped give me the preparatory materials I needed. Talking more with the team I felt immediately welcomed. I am excited to see what I can accomplish there and for this unique experience.”
Dayla Mendez, Class of 2016
“This past spring semester I had the opportunity to work as a Latino Services intern at the Compass Center for Women and Families. I started by doing mainly interpreting and translation. I found that increasing access to resources for the Latinx community is more than just translating all documents to Spanish, although that is also necessary. When looking at a database, you must think about things like social security requirements. Learning to look for culturally sensitive information is an important part of creating a more inclusive environment.
I was also trained as a hotline advocate and was able to see how problems are easily compounded for the Latinx population. For example, there is no domestic violence shelter in Orange County so clients have to be referred to neighboring counties. Aside from distance and transportation issues, Latina clients, must also deal with factors such as hostile conditions. While shelters aren’t supposed to check for documentation there are cases in which they have been denied entry. Many shelters lack or have limited bilingual staff and have predominantly English speaking victims. As an advocate, you must consider these factors and explain them to a client before making plans to move them to a shelter. If they are very likely to leave a shelter, it may ultimately be safer for them to stay with their abuser.
One of the key approaches at the Compass Center was that of empowering the client to make their own choices. Many clients come from situations in which they have been powerless to make their own decisions and have had decisions made for them by their abuser, law enforcement, and those around them. It is all too easy to decide what the correct “feminist choice” would be from afar. One could say that deciding to return to an abuser or not ending an abusive relationship is the anti-feminist, wrong choice. However, in coercing or guilting a victim of domestic violence into leaving a relationship when they are not ready, we are employing the same manipulative tactics as their abuser. Instead, we must provide the support to allow them to decide for themselves what is best and ensure they do not feel guilt or shame over the actions they must take for self-preservation. The fact that they made that choice of their own volition is what, by default, makes it a feminist act.”