There are many exciting local opportunities for Field Studies placements. Most volunteer-type work in the social services sector can qualify as a Field Studies placement, if the particular job is meaningful and includes the prescribed 30-40 full-time workday equivalent. 

The following questions may help you decide if a domestic Field Studies experience is right for you.

What is your motivation for pursing a domestic placement?

There are many valid and different motivations for pursing a domestic Field Studies placement. Local experiences can help students explore possible areas of interest, study or work that may have relevance to future careers, and build connections with possible employers. Local Field Studies provide opportunities to study and engage significant local social problems and current events. While the "adventure" aspect may not be as pronounced as that of an international experience, the opportunity to explore local issues and problems can be revealing and lead to unexpected surprises and opportunities for learning.

Whatever your motivation, it is important to understand the capacity of the potential host organization to help you accomplish your objectives.  Smaller organizations staffed by one or two people may have many involvements and be over-stretched, so the time they have to orient students is low, even though they deeply desire assistance. Such organizations are best served by "self-starters." On the other hand, many larger organizations are very experienced at working with volunteers and have good structures in place to make your work meaningful for them and for you. For students who want experience, but feel more comfortable with structure, an placement with a domestic organization experienced with volunteers may be the perfect fit. 

Host organizations have their own hopes and expectations about what you will accomplish and because they have to invest considerable time for your experience to be successful, they will expect results. It is therefore important to be very clear about mutual expectations at the outset.

How much time can you afford to spend?  

One major advantage of domestic placements is that they can be pursued part-time. The requirement to invest 30-40 full-time work days (which means 240-360 hours) can be spread out over several months. Not everyone has 4-12 months of their life to give full-time to volunteer activities. In addition, local placements are much less costly than international opportunities.

Are you expecting to avoid culture shock?

It may come as a surprise that each organization has its own institutional culture. You may have already experienced this if you have had different jobs with different employers. It is important to realize that the culture of all organizations varies and to be aware of potential challenges for you when you explore volunteering with any organization.

Do you think an international placement might be for you?