Employment-Based Placements (Graduate)

Sometimes students are already working in social service agencies where they would like to do their field placements.  This can be very appealing to students because it removes pressure in securing a placement.  It also may mean an easier time with scheduling balance of school, work and placement hours.  For many students, a big draw to employment-based placements is in being able to continue receiving an income.  With the demands of a field placement on top of everything else students are juggling, money can feel like a make or break part of the deal.

Students often want to jump at this opportunity quickly.  If you are thinking about an employment-based placement, we want you to put a lot of thought into it.  This means not only speaking with the agency you are working at, but also with your Field Education Administrator.  The feedback you get about the feasibility of doing what you want to do and getting the experiences you need can help you make this decision.  Without planning, what seems like a very convenient situation could quickly at best become uncomfortable and at worst, could result in something jeopardizing your job and/or placement.

It can be difficult for student to get as rich of a learning experience in an employment-based placement.  Although the student may be able to manage the separation of work and placement, we find that co-workers sometimes have difficulties respecting the student in the different roles.  At times, this can lead to work functions bleeding into placement time.

There are advantages and disadvantages to an employment-based placement that you will want to consider in making this decision.


  • Continued income
  • Benefits to your schedule
  • Familiarity with the agency


  • Boundaries can be tricky with other staff recognizing or respecting the role of student
  • Can limit learning experiences
  • Time bleed in separating work time from placement time

Employment-Based Placement Criteria

The criteria to complete an employment-based placement are:

  1. Level appropriate practice opportunities (BA Social Work, MSW Foundation, MSW Advanced)
  2. New and meaningful learning opportunities
  3. The placement position must be different from the student’s regular position as an employee
  4. The placement must be supported by agency management and approved by the UISSW Field Administrator.

Steps to Setting up an Employment-Based Placement

In order to complete an employment-based placement, you will need to:

  1. Speak with your SSW Center’s Field Education Administrator about your interest in an employment-based placement (For contact information, click here)
  2. Read the General Guidelines for Employment-Based Placements
  3. Complete the Employment-Based Placement Application at the end of the General Guidelines document
  4. Submit application and supporting materials to your Center’s Field Education Administrator