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A Culture of Care >> Read Smith’s plans for the fall 2021 semester.

Praxis Program

Approximately 400 undergraduate students per year receive Praxis stipends to work at unpaid internships in the United States and abroad in such fields as health care, government, education, communications, research, social welfare, technology, law, science and the arts. Internships are an increasingly important element of education for students wishing to advance to graduate school or professional positions. Because many students cannot afford to forgo earnings, the Praxis program assures that all students can pursue unpaid internship opportunities that expand their education.


Praxis Guidelines & Regulations

You Are Eligible to Apply If:

  • you have not yet received Praxis funding. Exceptions: Students applying for Praxis Plus (for students in the Concentrations - see below for details) OR students who interned with Smith Faculty during summer 2020.
  • you are not receiving any payment from the organization or through other Smith College funding.
  • you're a rising Sophomore with at least 32 credits; a rising Junior with at least 64 credits; or a rising Senior with at least 96 credits. Rising sophomores with credit shortages are not eligible for Praxis. Any other student who anticipates a credit shortage must receive permission from their Class Dean, emailed to praxis@smith.edu.
  • Interterm Praxis (Pilot Program; 2022 availability pending college approval): Current Sophomores, Juniors & Seniors are eligible to apply. First-Years and Seniors Graduating in January are not eligible for Interterm Praxis.
  • Summer Praxis: Rising Juniors & rising Seniors are eligible to apply. Incoming students and graduated Seniors are not eligible. First-Year (rising Sophomore) applicants may apply, but must have at least 32 credits by the end of the Spring semester and must provide written approval from their Liberal Arts Adviser, emailed to praxis@smith.edu, explaining the student's background and benefit from doing a Praxis summer internship.

Note: Students who withdraw from the college at any point after receiving a Praxis grant and before the start of the following semester will be charged the full amount of the grant

You Are Not Eligible If

  • you do not meet the aforementioned criteria
  • your internship is paid by host organization or if you funded by other Smith College programs*
  • you have previously received a Praxis grant (see exceptions in previous column)
  • you have previously participated in the same internship
  • you are a student enrolled at Smith College who is on an exchange program from another college

Students on Leave:

  • Any student on leave during the Fall semester is not eligible for Interterm Praxis.
  • Any student on leave during Spring semester is not eligible for Summer Praxis.

Note for international students: The internship hours that are funded through Praxis will not be counted as part of your Optional Practical Training (OPT) in the United States. If you have questions about OPT, contact Caitlin Szymkowicz (cszymkowicz@smith.edu) in the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO)

*Fox Borstein/Leana Brown funds: Students will be allowed to combine these funds with Praxis funds, however they must provide a budget that demonstrates the need for combined funding, and those funds cannot exceed $4,400.

Internships That Qualify for Praxis Funding

All Praxis-funded internships are unpaid; any compensation from a host organization will be deducted from the Praxis grant.

POLICY UPDATE 3/30/21: Students are strongly encouraged to pursue remote internship opportunities during summer 2021. Any student who wishes to use college funding or credit to support an in-person opportunity must submit a Petition for In-Person, Smith-supported Internship with their Praxis, Praxis with Credit or Credit-Only application. Any internship that is granted approval must take place in the U.S. or in a student's home country.

Your internship qualifies if it:

  • consists of a minimum of 220 hours, and at least 5.5 weeks (40 hours/week maximum); there are no exceptions.
  • is connected to your overall educational goals (may or may not be connected with your major)
  • offers substantial learning opportunities and allows for significant career exploration
  • takes place within an organization, division or department, where interns are not paid.
  • is well-supervised by someone with enough relevant expertise to ensure that the internship will be an educational experience
  • includes meeting with your supervisor a minimum of once a week
  • takes place at an organization not affiliated with Smith College
  • takes place at a geology, archaeology and other comparable field school; however, credits may not be transferred to Smith.
  • takes place during the Smith College summer break (with the exception of students on study abroad programs in the Southern Hemisphere and with Smith JYA in Hamburg, Germany). Students participating in Smith JYA programs need to consult with the faculty director regarding internships and the legal use of Praxis funding in each JYA country.
  • International Students: internship hours will not be counted as part of your Practical Training in the US.

Internships That Do Not Qualify

Your internship does NOT qualify if:

  • does not meet the aforementioned qualifying criteria
  • takes place during an academic term; Praxis internships must be conducted during summer break.
  • it is an independent project. Your duties must support the work of an organization.
  • your supervisor is a volunteer rather than a permanent, paid staff member.
  • it is a study program that emphasizes theoretical rather than practical learning.
  • it is an academic and/or training course.
  • the host organization is owned or run by a member of your immediate family, or by an aunt or uncle.
  • the internship supervisor is a family member.
  • it takes place at two separate internships.

Note: The Lazarus Center has the right to reject any internship it deems inappropriate.

If You Don't Complete Your Required Hours

If, for extraordinary circumstances, you are forced to end your internship before you have completed your required work hours, you must contact the Lazarus Center before you leave or, if that is not possible, immediately after. Contact info: praxis@smith.edu or 413-585-2582

If you do not complete your hours during the specified timeframe, you will be required to reimburse Smith College a pro-rated portion of your Praxis stipend, or the entire award that was given to you. The amount you owe will be placed on your next tuition bill.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT (Curricular Practical Training) is a work authorization option for F-1 students for off-campus career opportunities, much like OPT (Optional Practical Training).  CPT is available for students who have been in F-1 student status for nine months or longer. Smith’s policies allow students to use CPT authorization to pursue off-campus jobs and internships – paid or unpaid – during Summer (and J-term, under limited circumstances). International Students using Praxis are required to obtain CPT.

CPT differs from the OPT in that the job/internship for which you are applying must be an integral part of your major and usually an opportunity for which you will receive academic credit. CPT can be issued on a part-time (20 hours per week or less) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week) basis. Part-time CPT will not interfere with the ability to pursue your 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT). Full-time CPT that totals 12 months or more will result in a student being ineligible for OPT. Given the short nature of Praxis internships, CPT received for your Praxis internship should not affect your eligibility for OPT. 

If you have questions about CPT or OPT, contact the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) or make an appointment with Caitlin Szymkowicz (cszymkowicz@smith.edu), Associate Dean for International Students & Scholars.

Praxis Stipends & Tax

If you are an international student, taxes may be withheld from your Praxis payments. International students whose home countries maintain tax treaties for scholarships with the United States may not be subject to tax withholding on scholarship funding. If your country maintains such a treaty you may receive a tax waiver for your Praxis stipend by filing the required forms. Contact the Payroll and Disbursements Office to find out your country's tax treaty status and to obtain forms.

Faculty Sign-off

You are required to communicate your internship plans and learning goals to your major or pre-major adviser (of Concentration Faculty Adviser, if applicable). A faculty sign-off is not an approval of your application for Praxis funding; It is a confirmation that you and your adviser have communicated about your specific internship plans and goals. Always be considerate of your adviser's schedule; try to meet with them early in your application process, or during your regular meeting for academic advising.

Topics to discuss with your adviser include:

  • Why do you want to do an internship?
  • What do you hope to get out of it?
  • If you already have some defined career interests, what are they?
  • What types of organizations will help you explore these interests?
  • What kinds of hands-on work projects might be particularly educational for you?
  • How do you see an internship fitting in with your overall educational goals?

Provide your adviser with a Faculty Adviser Sign Off Form*. They must complete the form and send it back to you. Upload the completed form in your online Praxis application.

 *NOTE: Students applying for support of internships required by a concentration must obtain Faculty Sign-Off from their Concentration Adviser

Faculty Sign-Offs for Students Abroad 

If you are on a Smith junior year abroad program in Geneva, Florence, Hamburg or Paris, you may ask the director of your JYA program to sign off on your application. If you are on a Junior Year Abroad program other than those run by Smith, please email a description of your internship and your written statements to your Smith major or pre-major adviser. Your adviser must complete a Faculty Adviser Sign Off Form and email it back to you so you can upload it to your application.

Lazarus Center Staff Sign-off

A Lazarus Center staff member must evaluate your completed Praxis application to confirm that it fulfills criteria for Praxis funding.

Submit your completed application via our website and it will be read and approved as soon as possible. If anything is missing, or if we have questions before approving, we will email your Smith College email account. Once you are approved, you will receive a confirmation email from praxis@smith.edu.

Submitting Your Praxis Application

  • The application deadline for study abroad students is either the last day of your semester abroad OR the Praxis deadline, whichever occurs later.
  • Allow extra time for locating and applying to an internship; extra time to secure your appropriate visas; extra time for having your application reviewed; extra time for your checks to be processed. Allow plenty of time for communicating by email and mail, particularly if you're studying in a location where communications are delayed.
  • Submit your application via our website and it will be read and approved as soon as possible. If anything is missing, or if we have questions before approving, we will email your Smith College email account. Once you are approved, you will receive a confirmation email from praxis@smith.edu.

Students on Southern-Hemisphere Programs

  • If you are on a Smith-approved study abroad program for a semester or full academic year (fall and spring semesters), and your school's longest break occurs during our (i.e. Northern Hemisphere's) winter months, you may apply for Praxis funding for an internship undertaken during that break. This situation pertains to students in the Southern Hemisphere and in the Smith JYA program in Hamburg, Germany.
  • Students participating in Smith JYA programs need to consult with their faculty director regarding internships and the legal use of Praxis funding in each JYA country.
  • Submit your Praxis application at least one to two weeks before your internship is scheduled to begin.

Stipends

Praxis pays stipends to undergraduate students with qualified, unpaid internships. Stipend recipients must work a minimum of 220 hours (Summer Praxis) and at least 5.5 weeks. 

Until further notice, all Praxis stipends are $3,000.

Your stipend is paid in two installments: The first payment ($2800) is issued within 3-4 weeks of your approval. The second payment ($200) is issued after you have completed your internship and submitted all required after-internship documentation (see below).
 

Getting Paid


Direct Deposit for Praxis Stipends

By default, Praxis stipends are sent to your direct deposit account. Please set up direct deposit in Workday. If you do not have direct deposit set up, your stipend will be mailed to your permanent address.

When to expect your first payment

It may take 3 to 4 weeks to receive your first payment after your application has been approved, or longer than 3 to 4 weeks if you submit your application closer to the deadline. 

When to expect your second payment

You can expect your second payment approximately 3 to 4 weeks after BOTH of the following have been submitted to the Lazarus Center:

  • Verification of Internship Completion (submitted by Supervisor): Your supervisor must submit an email to praxis@smith.edu, confirming the completion of your internship, that you worked the required hours, and commenting on your work performance.
  • Final Activity Report

Deadline to submit both documents:
August 31, 2021 (for Summer Praxis)

IMPORTANT: Failure to provide a Final Activity Report AND Verification of Internship Completion to the Lazarus Center by the deadline will result in you being charged for the full amount of your Praxis funding and forfeiture of the final $200 stipend payment.

If You Don't Complete the Required Hours

If, for extraordinary circumstances, you are forced to end your internship before you have completed the required work hours, you must contact the Praxis Data Assistant at the Lazarus Center before you leave or, if that is not possible, immediately after. praxis@smith.edu or 413-585-2582

Students who receive Praxis stipends are expected to fulfill their required work hours before the beginning of the next semester. If unforeseeable and unavoidable circumstances dictate that you must leave, you will be obligated to reimburse Smith College a pro-rated portion of your Praxis stipend, or the entire award that was given to you. The amount you owe will be placed on your next tuition bill.

Low-Paid Internships

If you will be paid a salary for your internship that is less than your grant award, you have the option of applying for reduced Praxis funding to supplement your employer-paid salary. The total amount of your employer-paid salary plus Praxis funding may not exceed $3000, and you will not be eligible for any additional Praxis funds in the future.

Other Smith Funding

Praxis funding may NOT be combined with any other Smith grants. Exception: Fox Borstein/Leena Brown Funds may be combined with your Praxis funds, however you must provide a budget that demonstrates the need for combined funding. Combined total cannot exceed $4,400.

International Students

If you are an international student, taxes will be withheld from your Praxis payments. Exceptions are made, however, for international students whose home countries maintain tax treaties for scholarships with the United States. If your country maintains such a treaty you may receive a tax waiver for your Praxis stipend by filing the required forms. Contact the Payroll and Disbursements Office to find out your country's tax treaty status and to obtain forms.

Praxis Plus exists to support the second internship associated with Smith concentrations. In order to qualify, an undergraduate student must have previously used a Praxis grant to support the first internship associated with the concentration. This is a limited pool and will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis. This fund will support unpaid internships only.

Praxis Plus applications require one additional form: Concentration Director Confirmation form

 

Where can I find information on Praxis and filing my taxes?
Please contact Christine Clark in the Controller's Office: ceclark@smith.edu. The Controller's Office administers Praxis grants and can give you more detailed information on necessary tax documents.


If I plan on taking a leave of absence after receiving a Praxis stipend, do I have to pay it back?

No. As long as you complete all the requirements of your Praxis-funded internship, a leave of absence will not affect your Praxis stipend.


When is the Praxis application deadline?

The deadline to apply for Praxis is the last day of classes: May 13, 2021 A complete application and all supporting forms must be submitted in order to be considered for approval. See Applications & Forms page for more information.


What is the stipend amount?

All stipends are $3000. 


When can I expect my first and second payments?

First Payment:

  • Once your application has been approved, expect it to take 3 to 4 weeks to receive your first payment ($2800). 
  • If you submit your application closer to the deadline, it may take more than 3 to 4 weeks.
  • NOTE: First payment may take longer due to COVID-19 staffing changes. Please be patient; your payment will be processed as soon as possible. 

Second Payment:

  • Expect your second and final installment of $200 to arrive 3 to 4 weeks after we receive BOTH: Supervisor's Verification of Internship Completion (from supervisor) AND Final Activity Report.
  • BOTH documents must be submitted by August 31, 2021

How many hours per week are required for my Praxis internship?

Eligible internships must be:

  • A minimum of 220 hours
  • A minimum of 5.5 weeks (a maximum of 40 hours per week)

Can I submit parts of my application and submit the remaining forms later?

Your application will not be considered for approval until all supporting forms have been received. All parts of the application must be submitted via the online application by the established deadline.


Can I use my Praxis stipend at two internships?

You cannot split your Praxis internship; it must take place at one organization.


Do I need my adviser’s signature on my application?

After you and your adviser have communicated about your specific internship plans and goals:

  • Submit a completed Faculty Adviser Sign-Off form with your Praxis application.
  • If your major adviser is on sabbatical you must have the department chair sign the form.
  • Concentrations: Students applying for support of internships required by a concentration must obtain Faculty Sign-Off from their Concentration Adviser
  • The Faculty Adviser Sign-Off form is electronic and fillable online (no physical signature is required). Your adviser must fill it out, PRINT TO PDF and send it to you so you may upload it into the required field of your application.

My internship supervisor is out of the office and won't be available until after the Praxis application deadline. What should I do?

Make your internship supervisor aware as soon as possible that they must complete a Supervisor Confirmation Form so you can upload it to your application. Incomplete applications will not be considered.


Can I still receive Praxis if I receive a salary from my employer?

The total amount of your employer-paid salary combined with Praxis funding may not exceed the Praxis grant award amount, and you will not be eligible for any additional Praxis funds in the future.


My supervisor does not speak English. Can I submit a supervisor letter in another language?

Your supervisor's confirmation form must be translated either by another staff member at your organization or a faculty member.


My internship takes place in person. Can I still obtain Praxis funding?

Students are strongly encouraged to pursue remote internship opportunities during summer 2021. Any student who wishes to use college funding or credit to support an in-person opportunity must submit a Petition for In-Person, Smith-supported Internship with their Praxis, Praxis with Credit or Credit-Only application. Any internship that is granted approval must take place in the U.S. or in a student's home country


Do I need to meet with a Lazarus Center adviser to submit my completed Praxis application?

No. Submit your application via our website and it will be read and approved as soon as possible. If anything is missing, or if we have questions before approving, we will email your Smith College email account. Once you are approved, you will receive a confirmation email from praxis@smith.edu.


I'm having trouble writing 300 words for some of the written statements. What should I do?

When we evaluate your Praxis application for approval, the information you provide in your written statements is critical in our decision-making process. It’s our job to make sure your internship meets all goals and required criteria before we give it our stamp of approval. 

Praxis internships are intended to help you apply the theoretical learning of your liberal arts education to a field of work; gain broader exposure to opportunities beyond Smith and beyond the classroom; acquire first-hand access to the institutions, problems and conditions that you are studying; obtain the hands-on experience and skills valued by employers and graduate schools; and work closely with professionals to gain a deeper knowledge of a particular field. 

Your written statements should also reflect a deep understanding of the internship you've accepted, and show us how you've prepared to have a successful, meaningful internship experience. It should be apparent to us that you've spoken at length with your supervisor about your responsibilities and schedule. Do you and your supervisor have a mutual understanding of your duties? Does your internship meet the criteria required for Praxis funding? 

A common complaint about the written statements is that the question prompts can lead to redundant answers. That's OK; we know that there may be some overlap. Another common question is, "Do you really count the words?" No, of course not! However, we do feel that approximately 300 words are required to adequately answer the questions. 

We recommend that you work on the written statements in small chunks if you feel overwhelmed. Answer a question a day for a week and you'll be done! Still need help? Come to the Lazarus Center to meet with an adviser. 

Finally, for your reference: The answer to this question is exactly 300 words long. You can do it!

The Benefits of Praxis

  • Apply theoretical learning to a field of work and gain broader exposure to opportunities beyond Smith and the classroom.
  • Acquire first-hand access to the institutions, problems and conditions that you are studying.
  • Obtain hands-on experience and skills valued by employers and graduate schools.
  • Work closely with professionals to gain a deeper knowledge of a particular field.


Praxis Information for Employers

About Praxis

Smith College’s internship funding program, Praxis: The Liberal Arts at Work pays stipends to undergraduate Smith students who work at qualified, unpaid internships related to their career and/or academic interests.

The Praxis internship funding program is mutually beneficial—to the employer who gets an extra pair of helping hands, and to the Smith student who gains experience and insight into a career field.

Since the beginning of the program, supervisors have been impressed with the caliber of Smith student interns, praising them for their competence, motivation, flexibility and adaptability, and for their skills in such areas as communication, writing, researching, analyzing, problem solving, presentation and computer knowledge.

If you have any questions about Praxis, please call the Lazarus Center for Career Development at 413-585-2582, or email praxis@smith.edu.

Qualifying for a Praxis Stipend

To qualify for a Praxis stipend, an undergraduate Smith student must be accepted to an internship that:

  • offers a minimum of  220 hours
  • takes place during Smith's summer break (Praxis may not fund academic term internships)
  • offers work assignments that are needed by the workplace and that help the student meet learning objectives
  • allows significant career exploration and learning opportunities
  • is supervised by a permanent, paid staff member with relevant expertise, and who meets with the intern a minimum of once a week
  • at work sites where interns are not normally paid. If you have other interns who are paid in your department, division or unit, this student would not be eligible for Praxis funding. 

Our students understand and expect to do clerical work in combination with more substantive, career-specific assignments, with the balance of their time being on the latter.

Important Dates

Deadline for students to apply for Summer Praxis: May 13, 2021
The application requires a completed Supervisor Confirmation Form, to be filled out by the supervisor, which confirms internship offer and describes duties and supervision. Please complete the form and return it to the student so they can upload it into their application.

Eligible internships will receive a stipend of $3,000.

Verification of Internship Completion
Required for both Praxis and Credit-only Internships 
At the end of the internship, supervisors must submit an email to praxis@smith.edu, confirming hours worked and commenting on intern’s work performance. Verification must be in English or translated by Smith faculty member prior to submission.

Liability Waivers

Organizations requesting a Smith sign-off on liability waivers, assumption of risk forms or a memo of understanding must contact the Five College Risk Management Office.