Field Work Term FAQs

What is Field Work Term?

The Field Work Term (FWT) has been a central part of Bennington’s educational requirements since the College was founded in 1932. During this seven-week period in January and February there are no academic classes on campus. Students work in a variety of fields and geographic locations pursuing interests discovered or developed at Bennington. FWT is designed to allow students to forge professional connections, develop practical experience, and begin to discover both their role in and responsibilities to the world. For every two terms a student is enrolled, one FWT must be completed.

What resources are available through the FWT Office?

The FWT and Career Development Office can help you browse job listings, draft cover letters, prepare grant applications, find housing, and more. View all our services. 

What are the dates of FWT?

This year, FWT runs January 2 through February 16, 2018.

Are FWT jobs always related to students’ academic concentrations?

Students use their FWT in whatever way best complements their academic program and interests. FWT can be another way to combine diverse fields of study or a way to expand a focus in a specific area. FWT is a part of the overall academic program and is reviewed as such.

Is there a required amount of work time?

Yes. Students complete a minimum of 210 hours of work for FWT. Hours are broken down into primary and supplemental, based on the kind of site at which a student is working. A primary site is considered one that is approved by the student’s faculty advisor and the FWT Office, and is generally connected to advancing the learning goals of a student’s Plan. A supplemental site does not need to be registered with the FWT Office, nor connected to a student’s Plan, nor approved by the College. It does require proof of hours. Students are required to work a minimum of 140 primary hours, and can do so at up to two primary site jobs. Many students complete all 210 required hours at primary sites. However, students can work up to 70 hours at one supplemental site if desired.

Can I work more than one job?

Yes. Students can work at up to two primary site jobs, as well as a supplemental job if desired. 

How do students find FWT jobs?

Students find jobs by pursuing a combination of their own resources and the resources available through the FWT and Career Development Office, which lists job opportunities in a variety of fields and locations. FWT staff members are here to help students prepare a resume, apply to advertised positions, or develop their own FWT opportunity with a site that has not worked with Bennington before. Even if a student does not have a lot of work experience, securing a good internship is very possible with the proper preparation. Last year, more than 600 FWT positions at companies from across the country and around the world were listed in the online WorkLink system.

Can a student go abroad for FWT?

Yes. The majority of students who go abroad during FWT do so either through an internship site they locate or through an outside program which coordinates international internships. Students who are planning on going outside the US for FWT should begin planning early as there are more logistics to consider for such a project. The FWT Office staff can help a student think through logistics of living abroad. 

The office strongly encourages students to research all travel thoroughly, and to plan accordingly: research the destination, review travel warnings, remain up-to-date on visa regulations for your destinations, and double-check all credentials and paperwork before departure.

Can a student work for a family member?

Only in rare situations. Working for a family member is generally discouraged as an FWT employer evaluates a student's work performance with is used to help determine a student's FWT assessment and becomes part of the student's academic record. As such, there is an inherent conflict of interest when working for a parent or other family member. However, there are occasionally situations in which it makes sense given a student's goals and the opportunity available. Any supervisor who is a relative, someone who reports directly to a relative, or a recent Bennington College student will need to be approved by the FWT Office. A proposal must be written by the student, and endorsed by the potential supervisor prior to FWT registration.

Can a student work for an employer not listed in the WorkLink system (our Field Work Term job database)?

Absolutely. In fact, annually, more than half of Bennington students develop FWT experiences that are unique to their needs and interests. Here is what a new site supervisor needs to know.

Can FWT consist of an Independent Study?

Yes. Eligible students can apply to spend one FWT pursuing an independent project. Independent Study is available to students who have completed at least four terms, are in good academic standing, and submit an approved proposal. Independent study is generally used by juniors or seniors delving into a thesis or project that is part of their advanced work. Students interested in pursuing an Independent Study should review the requirements and meet with a staff member to discuss.

Can FWT be completed in the summer?

Mostly the FWT requirement must be completed during January and February. Upperclassmen who have successfully completed at least one FWT can apply for a summer deferral if a specific work opportunity that is essential to their Plan is not available in the winter and there are no comparable winter offerings at other organization. First-year international students who are not eligible to work in the US until after nine months of study are eligible for a summer deferral. Some students with a documented health issue that requires a special accommodation may also be approved by the FWT director to complete their FWT in the summer. In addition to summer deferrals, occasionally a student preparing to go to their FWT site, or already on the job, may encounter an unforeseen circumstance that prevents the completion of FWT and may be granted an incomplete with permission to do a summer makeup without academic penalty. Summer make-ups without academic penalty are not guaranteed. Prior approval must be granted by the FWT and Career Development Office. Please note: summer FWTs can only count toward the academic requirement in the preceding academic year, not banked for the next year.

How is FWT evaluated?

 A student’s FWT assessment is based on adherence to all FWT-related due dates, total hours worked toward the 210-hour requirement, employer written evaluations, and the student’s reflective project. Bennington rates the FWT experience on a Pass, Marginal Pass, or Fail basis. Employer comments along with the final FWT assessment become part of a student’s permanent academic record.

Can a student fail FWT?

Yes. Students who do not successfully complete FWT requirements will be unable to pass the term. A failing rating will become part of the student’s permanent academic record and the student will be required to complete an FWT make-up during the summer. 

How much does FWT cost?

Tuition is not charged for this term, and every FWT experience is unique. The cost relates directly to the type and location of the experience as well as individual resources. Expenses to consider include travel, housing, meals, and transportation.

Are students paid for FWT jobs?

Remuneration varies with each FWT position. Some are volunteer, some pay, and some offer housing or other compensation.

A student should not expect to make or save money during FWT, but rather to cover basic living expenses and to learn as much as possible about the world of work. Some students find a separate part-time job to help cover costs associated with Field Work Term. This approach permits students to commit the majority of their time to the experience that is in their field of interest. Both the paid and unpaid work can be counted toward the FWT hours requirement.

Is financial aid available for FWT?

FWT does not charge tuition, therefore it is not covered by student financial aid packages. A limited number of grants are awarded annually through the FWT and Career Development Office. Application for this funding requires a potential FWT arrangement in order to estimate expenses. 

Can a student stay on campus for FWT?

Students are required to move out of their campus housing at the end of fall term. Low-cost, on-campus accommodations are available to first-year international students over FWT whose work options are limited due to immigration regulations. If space is available, students who have been approved to complete an Independent Study that requires campus facility use, or who have a local position, may also apply to live on campus. For more check out Housing Over FWT.

What are the housing options during FWT?

Traditionally, most students secure low-cost FWT housing through personal contacts, sublet/rent as a group, or return home. Housing options sometimes include listings from employers offering housing in exchange for a job. About half of first-year students will live at home during FWT, having secured positions close to home. For more check out Housing Over FWT.

Is the FWT & Career Development Office open during FWT?

Yes. During January and February, the FWT Office is open Monday through Friday, 8:30AM–4:00PM EST. Staff are available to answer student and employer questions and to assist with any problems that may arise during FWT.

Where can I find more information about Field Work Term?

Start here to discover helpful links available to students in arranging their Field Work Terms, including planning tips, important dates, office resources and much more. (The FWT Handbook and linked resources are updated annually by the first day of fall classes.)

Who are the Field Work Term staff and how do I reach them?

Learn more here about the FWT & Career Development Office staff.