Field placement FAQ

Will I receive academic credit for my placement?

Yes. The field placement is a mandatory component of the program divided into two courses – International Development (INDEV) INDEV 401 and INDEV 402 – which normally run from September to April. Like any other course, you are required to enroll for the field placement course each term, pay the appropriate University of Waterloo tuition and fees, and submit assignments for grades assigned by the course instructor. During the field placement, you will stay in contact with the course instructor and the field placement manager. At the end of the placement, you will return to campus for a mandatory debriefing and Capstone program held at St. Paul’s University College.

What is the connection between International Development (INDEV) and St Paul’s University College?

St Paul’s shares in the delivery of the INDEV program with the Faculty of Environment. The college offers scholarships and residential space to first year INDEV students. Many core INDEV courses are taught at St. Paul’s by cross-appointed faculty and instructors. Your field placement manager’s office is located at St. Paul’s in room 207. To help reduce student costs and provide a common learning environment for your cohort, St. Paul’s offers an International Development Fellowships to every student accepted into the program. If accepted, this entitles students to complimentary residence and a partial meal plan for the spring “predeparture” term and the final debriefing and capstone program after field placement.

Are there any eligibility requirements?

Yes. Please see the field placement eligibility requirements.

Students anticipating or experiencing difficulty meeting these requirements are advised to consult with the INDEV program administrator as there are a variety of services available to help you.

Do I have to apply for field placement?

Yes. You will be required to submit an application in third year, which goes to World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and local partner organizations in one or more of the three countries you select for placement. You will then be matched to a host organization. Your application will consist of an application form, your résumé and a personal statement of interest. If you need help developing your résumé, visit the Centre for Career Action.

What countries are available for my field placement?

Availability depends on local partners’ needs and is subject to change without notice. Please see the list of past field placements.

What language skills do I need for my field placement?

To be eligible for placement in a Spanish language country, you will need intermediate-level Spanish or higher when you apply. A phone interview will be conducted in Spanish by WUSC to assess your skill level. INDEV 304's Spanish may be offered in 4A spring term depending on student demand.

To be eligible for field placement in a French language country, you will need intermediate-level French or higher when you apply. A phone interview will be conducted in French by WUSC to assess your skill level. INDEV 304's French may be offered in 4A spring term depending on student demand.

In all countries, students are expected to acquire basic conversational ability in one of the appropriate local languages. WUSC may provide introductory language training as part of orientation in some countries or assist you with finding a local class or tutor as appropriate.

What kind of work will I be doing?

As a student-volunteer acquiring academic credit you are expected to cheerfully and creatively do whatever task is assigned, within reason – just as any intern would be expected to do at a placement in Canada. Prior to departure, you are advised to learn as much as you can about your organization and field placement country. Once in-country you will work with your supervisor and co-workers to develop your own workplan.

What personal skills should I have?

Students who get the most out of their experience overseas tend to have certain characteristics, all of which can be developed through practice between now and your third year! Ask yourself what kind of person are you? Who do you want to become? Do you enjoy a challenge? Are you comfortable meeting new people from other cultures? Are you adaptable to change? Are you a calm person? How do you cope with personal stress? Do you have good listening and observing skills? Are you resourceful when the path forward is not clear? Are you curious about people and places? Do you have a sense of humour, even when things don’t go your way?

Self-knowledge is an important part of preparing for living and working effectively in another culture (or anywhere). One way to explore your potential is through the University of Waterloo's Organizational and Human Development Student Leadership Program, or similar types of programs.

How much does it cost?

In addition to tuition for INDEV 401/402 field placement course, all students pay a single program fee of $8,000 regardless of placement country. This cost is less than the actual cost of field placement and is subsidized by the Government of Canada through the WUSC Uniterra program.

The single program fee is divided into two categories:

  • Placement fee of $3,000 collected by University of Waterloo ($1,000 each academic term for one year) and paid to WUSC.
  • Direct travel and living costs of $5,000 collected by St. Paul's and paid to WUSC.

What does the WUSC placement fee cover?

The placement fee covers all services provided to you by WUSC to facilitate your successful placement, beginning in third-year to the completion of your placement. This includes application, matching, selection, confirmation, pre-departure support, ongoing coordination with field offices and local partner organizations, in-country support and debriefing before return to Canada. Learn more about the field placement costs.

How safe will I be?

All international travel and living/working abroad comes with risks. The program is committed to minimizing those risks as much as possible and enhancing the safety and security of INDEV students while overseas. Our partnership with WUSC is designed with this in mind: WUSC will provide you with the information you need to travel smart and take appropriate action in the event of an emergency. You will have an emergency number to call for help at any time night or day. And the WUSC office is there to provide you with expert and timely support throughout your field placement.

In terms of security, placements will not be offered in countries where a Government of Canada travel advisory is in effect, advising Canadians to “avoid non-essential travel” or “avoid all travel".

We also encourage you to prepare yourself for the environment in which you want to be living/working. Take the time to understand the information given to you, do your own research before you apply, and know your own limitations if any. For more information about safety abroad, consult your field placement manager.

Where will I live?

Each field office makes different arrangements for student living. Some will include stays with a host family; others will include staying in a house or apartment, or a hostel or compound of the organization (or an affiliated organization). Students may be paired with other students from the program. Information about accommodation options is provided by WUSC during the pre-departure term or earlier.

Will I travel alone or in a group?

Students will normally travel together to the field placement country. Normally no less than three and no more than 10 students will be placed per country. The program will strive to ensure students are within a half day’s bus ride from one another. Students are encouraged to visit one another during the field placement period.

What kind of support will I have in the country I am going to?

There are various levels of support provided by INDEV, WUSC and your host organization. You will stay in email contact with your Course Instructor about your assignments. Your Field Placement Manager will maintain regular contact by email and will normally visit you at your workplace during your field placement. or designate a faculty member to do so. You will have a designated WUSC supervisor in-country to visit you once per term and provide support as needed. At your workplace, you will have a designated local supervisor to oversee your day-to-day activities within your host organization.

Can I arrange my own field placement?

It is possible at SEED's discretion. It is a very complicated process, and we recommend that students complete their field placements through WUSC. This is not intended to restrict you but to ensure that all students are able to fulfill the program’s academic requirements and contribute to sustainable development on similar terms, while having a safe and productive learning experience. Learn more about arranging your own field placement.

Can I arrange my own flights?

No. WUSC will make the travel arrangements on your behalf. This is necessary so we can ensure students travel together to their field placement countries, arrive and depart on the same dates/times, begin in-country orientation together on schedule and return to campus to complete the program together. Please note that frequent flyer points cannot be used for the purchase of tickets.

When will I know what field placements are available for me to apply for?

An indicative list of potential placements is normally posted in the fall term one year prior to your field placement. Final availability of placements depends upon local partners’ needs and is subject to change without notice. After you complete your application package, final matching and selection of students is done by WUSC and local partner organizations.

Does the program offer any help covering costs?

Yes. Learn more about funding your field placement.