Field Work Term
Hone your ideas in the classroom, and test them through hands-on work in the world—every year.
Students In Action
See the breadth and depth of the Field Work Term experience.
Bennington has always championed the value of learning in action. The College was the first liberal arts institution to integrate classroom study with annual field experience, and this vital practice still thrives eighty years later. Today, students choose from a robust array of annual field work experiences offering deep learning, reflective practice, and work-based competency development.
Through this annual learning lab in the working world, Bennington students acquire a resume of four progressive field experiences and a deep understanding of what they want to do. They develop a capacity to grasp and enter complex situations; the ability to work and think independently as well as to collaborate; and the confidence to be mobilized by ambiguities, trade-offs, and uncertainties–all qualities recognized by employers as essential for innovators in the emerging future of work.
In each of their four FWTs, students bring their studies to the world of work, implementing knowledge, confronting challenges firsthand and refining their questions to further shape their studies when back on campus.
According to a national survey of 50,000 employers, the single most important credential for a college graduate entering the workforce is internship experience. Take it from employers, Bennington interns have what it takes.
Bennington students learn from the annual experience of Field Work Term how to live engaged, satisfied lives. 77% of our recent graduates report engagement with their first job, nearly double the national average.
CHOOSING A FIELD WORK EXPERIENCE
With support from the Office of Career Development and Field Work Term and academic advisors, students choose from a broad array of work-integrated learning experiences to fulfill their annual field work experience requirement. These experiences can be acquired through:
- internships during either the summer or winter period
- fellowships in specific content areas with a cohort of other students
- eligible campus work
- volunteer/community engagement activity
- study away programs
- independent study/advanced research
- professional certification or apprenticeships
Students are coached to select a wide variety of experiences which are progressive, additive, and integrated with their academic learning. All students must complete at least one internship in their four years, and typically cannot repeat any of the other field work experience options without prior approval.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Field Work Term program has been reimagined to allow for greater flexibility in timeframe and an expansion of virtual options, so that students may prioritize their health and safety while still gaining the meaningful professional experiences that are more critical than ever. Check out Field Work Term & COVID-19 for details.
All field work experiences are listed on Handshake, the College’s career and experiential opportunities database, which offers access to thousands of learning opportunities across the country and the globe. Students are not required to find an opportunity through Handshake; many find field work on their own, adding to our ever-growing resource pool.
GETTING IT DONE
Every student is required to complete 200 hours of qualifying field work every year, which translates into 6 weeks of full-time work. While the majority of students complete field work over the College’s signature winter term, the field work experience requirement can also be met by alternate timing, including:
- Approved campus work or volunteer community engagement activity at six hours per week for the full academic year
- Qualifying study away or fellowship opportunities during the fall or spring terms
- Specialized summer internships including Research Experience for Undergraduates (REUs)
REFLECTION, EVALUATION, AND ASSESSMENT
All field work experiences require structured reflection before, during, and after the experience. Students complete learning objectives at the time of Field Work registration and these are available to their academic advisors for review and discussion. During the field work experience, students use a structured self-assessment tool to evaluate their strengths and challenges in the work arena. At the end of the field work experience, students submit a reflective self-evaluation (in the form of guided short essay questions), which is also discussed with academic advisors as well as during the Plan process.
In addition, students receive ongoing evaluative feedback from their supervisors, culminating in a summative exit evaluation based on core work-readiness competencies. Students’ competency development is summarized and reflected in their academic record, showing progress over time.
Students receive a Pass / Marginal Pass / Fail assessment based on completion of required job search assignments, field work hours, and reflective work; adherence to the student agreement regarding on-the-job expectations; and supervisor feedback via exit evaluations.
FINANCING FIELD WORK
Tuition is not charged for field work experiences; however, students are responsible for meeting their own expenses and can draw on the following resources to do so:
- Faculty-sponsored research and campus work opportunities
- External grant funding for specific fellowships and apprenticeships
- Paid internships; need-eligible students electing to pursue unpaid internships may be eligible for a College stipend of $500 to offset travel costs
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