Sociology Internships Let Students Give Back

In an effort to connect the classroom to the boardroom, Dr. Bob Kunovich is expanding his work as program director in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology to include creating and managing internship opportunities for graduate students.

Over the past several years, the Associate Professor and Director of the Sociology Program has been troubled by what he hears from students who decide against pursuing a master’s degree in sociology: “I’m not sure what I would do when I graduate,” they would say.  So Kunovich began exploring ways in which his students might gain real-world experience and utilize what they learn at UT Arlington beyond pursuing a doctoral degree.

“This part of our program stresses the importance of service learning and internships,” he said. “It is an opportunity to learn about other ways they may use their degree.  Students are typically attracted to sociology because of what we study, but they often don’t know about what they can do with the degree once they graduate. This is a growth area for some of our graduates.”

While other department faculty have arranged for internship opportunities for their students in the past, Kunovich began building the internship aspect of the sociology program this year. He connected with a former student and found several opportunities for his students to explore their knowledge and expertise in research methodologies and statistics.

Earlier this fall, Kunovich helped Faye Hanson-Evans secure an internship with West Dallas Community Center, a non-profit group that serves schoolchildren and their parents through afterschool programs. Hanson-Evans said she jumped at the opportunity to work for the community organization.

“When I first heard of the internship, I definitely wanted to lend my skills to the cause,” she said. “You’re taking what you’ve learned and doing good in the world with what you know.”

Groups like WDCC rely on government funding and are required to show, mostly through statistical data, the impact of their work. Hanson-Evans applies what she has learned at UT Arlington about evaluation research through data collection, cleaning and managing WDCC’s database, and developing reports for the organization’s leadership.

Next semester, another student will take over the WDCC internship, but Hanson-Evans is already thinking about a future shaped by the experiences she gained this fall.

“I’m considering a Ph.D. program… and maybe go work for a non-profit,” she said. “There’s a real need to crunch numbers and give back to organizations who need it the most.”

Kunovich has another student already lined for an internship next year with Big Thought, a Dallas youth and arts organization. He said most of the internships will allow students to work with local community groups.

“Their internship duties are often related to kids, schools and education with groups that are serving low-income populations,” he said. “Sociology courses tend to focus on structural issues like race, class, gender and inequality. All the issues students have addressed in our courses, they are seeing firsthand.  In society, they are seeing the course material at work.”


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