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Praxis Program

Approximately 400 undergraduate students per year receive Praxis stipends to work at unpaid summer 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 summer earnings, the Praxis program assures that all students can pursue unpaid internship opportunities that expand their education.

Praxis Summer Activity Report 2018

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 Guidelines & Regulations

 You Are Eligible If

  • you have not yet received Praxis funding.
  • you are currently enrolled at Smith as an undergraduate and will have 64 or more earned credits by the end of the spring semester; an exception may be made for a first-year student who must provide a written approval from their liberal arts adviser explaining the student’s background and benefit from doing a Praxis summer internship. Please know first-year applicants will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
  • you are not receiving any payment from the organization or through Smith College.

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

Note for students on leave: If you are on study abroad or study leave, you are eligible for use a Praxis stipend for a qualified internship. Students on personal leaves will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If you are on a personal leave and would like to use a Praxis stipend for the upcoming summer, please contact praxis@smith.edu.

You Are Not Eligible If

  • you will be doing a summer internship funded by Smith programs other than Praxis*.
  • you are a graduating senior.
  • you are a student enrolled at Smith College who is on an exchange program from another college.
  • you are doing a summer internship that is affiliated with Smith College.
  • you have previously participated in the same internship.

Note for international students: The 220 internship hours that are funded through Praxis will not be counted as part of your practical training in the United States.

*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.

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. You may work a part- or full-time schedule, as long as you complete 220 hours during your summer break.
  • International Students: the 220 internship hours will not be counted as part of your Practical Training in the US.
  • is at an organization not affiliated with Smith College
  • is connected to your overall educational goals (may or may not be connected with your major)
  • offers substantial learning opportunities
  • allows for significant career exploration
  • takes place within an organization, division or department, where summer interns are not paid.
  • is well supervised by someone with enough relevant expertise to ensure that the internship will be an educational experience
  • takes place entirely at the organization's work site, except when interns conduct work in the field, or attend meetings or conferences
  • takes place at a geology, archaeology and other comparable field school; however, credits may not be transferred to Smith.
  • includes meeting with your supervisor in-person and on-site a minimum of once a week
  • 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.

Internships That Do Not Qualify

Your internship does not qualify if:

  • it does not meet the criteria listed in "Internships That Qualify."
  • 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.
  • it is located in a foreign country carrying a travel advisory from the U.S. State Department, unless the country carrying the advisory is your home.
  • 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 220 Hours

If, for extraordinary circumstances, you are forced to leave your internship before you have completed 220 work hours, you must call the Praxis Data Assistant at the Lazarus Center before you leave or, if that is not possible, immediately after. 

If you do not complete your 220 hours before the start of the fall semester, 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.

Faculty Sign-off

You are required to communicate your internship plans and learning goals to your major or pre-major adviser. 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.

You do not need to have completed a Praxis funding application before you get a faculty sign-off. In asking to speak with your adviser, always be considerate of his or her schedule. Try to meet with your adviser early in the spring semester, 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?

Your adviser can either email praxis@smith.edu to say that an internship-related conversation has taken place, or sign the following form. Attach it to your Praxis application.

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, and ask your professor to email praxis@smith.edu to confirm that he or she has read your materials.

Lazarus Center Staff Sign-off

In addition to your faculty adviser sign-off, a Lazarus Center staff member must sign your application to confirm that it fulfills criteria for Praxis funding.

To obtain a Lazarus Center sign-off, schedule a Praxis Express appointment. This is a 20-minute appointment to have your application reviewed and approved on the spot. If your application is not complete, the staff member will give you clear instructions and  immediate feedback on what part of your application needs to be strengthened or changed in order to be approved for Praxis funding. Call 413-585-2582 to make an appointment.

Lazarus Center Approval for Students Abroad

If you are on a JYA program, send your completed application with supporting materials to the Lazarus Center by email (praxis@smith.edu) or fax (413-585-2596). You will be notified by email of the status of your application.

Submitting Your Praxis Application

  • 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, fax and letter, particularly if you're studying in a location where communications are delayed.
  • If you are abroad, send your completed application with supporting materials to the Lazarus Center by email (praxis@smith.edu) or fax (413-585-2596). You will be notified by email of the status of your application.
  • Note: Faxing from abroad can be costly. We recommend email or international mail. Plan ahead to ensure that you have enough time to mail your application before the deadline.
  • Study abroad students may have an extended Praxis deadline. You may submit your application from February 1 through the last day of your semester abroad OR by the Praxis deadline, whichever occurs later.
  • Check your Smith email account routinely. All Praxis communications will go to your Smith email account.

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.
  • Attach a copy of your school's calendar indicating the start and end dates of your long break to your application. This must come from the school's website, catalog or from another school publication.
  • Submit your Praxis-funding application at least one to two weeks before your internship is scheduled to begin. If you have questions about the eligibility of your internship before you submit your application via email at praxis@smith.edu.

Students who intern abroad (and not in their home country) are eligible for a $4,000 stipend.

Travel Advisories & Travel Registry

IMPORTANT UPDATE: If you are doing an internship abroad and not in your home country, you must consult the State Department Travel Advisories list to verify that it is safe to travel and work in that country.

Any student participating in an internship abroad must complete the Mandatory Travel Registry for individual travelers even if the internship is in a home country.

Visas

Many countries have very strict visa requirements for internships. The Lazarus Center does not provide guidance on visas. Students should contact the country embassy to obtain information on proper internship visa procedures well in advance of their departure.

Internships in the United Kingdom

If you are planning on interning in the UK, you need to go through BUNAC to obtain a proper visa. Funding is available through the Global Studies office to defray the costs associated with it. For more information, see Sue Pouliot at the Lewis Global Studies Center.

Stipends

Praxis pays stipends to undergraduate students with qualified, unpaid internships. Stipend recipients must work a minimum of 220 hours and at least 5.5 weeks. There are no exceptions.

  • Domestic Internships (in one's home country): $3,000
  • International Internships (non-US and NOT in one's home country): $4,000

Your stipend will be paid to you in two installments. You will receive the first portion of your awarded stipend before or at the beginning of your internship. 

Your second check of $200 will be issued to you after you have completed your internship, submitted a Summer Activity Report, and after your supervisor has submitted a letter or e-mail commenting on your work performance and confirming that you completed a minimum of 220 hours.
 

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 your Praxis grant award amount, 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.

Getting Paid

When to expect your first check

It may take 3 to 4 weeks to receive your first check 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 check

You can expect your second and final installment of $200 approximately 3 to 4 weeks after BOTH of the following items have been submitted to the Lazarus Center:

  • Supervisor Completion Letter: Please have your supervisor submit a letter on official letterhead or e-mail from your internship supervisor confirming the completion of your internship, that you worked a minimum of 220 hours, and commenting on your work performance.
  • Summer Activity Report: You can complete and submit this form online.

IMPORTANT: Failure to provide a Summer Activity Report AND Supervisor Confirmation Letter to the Lazarus Center at the end of your internship will result in you being charged for the full amount of your Praxis funding and forfeiture of the final $200 stipend payment.

The deadline to submit both documents is August 31.

Your second check will be direct deposited to your account or mailed to the address you indicate at the bottom of the Summer Activity Report.

Mailing checks

If you are currently active for direct deposit for payroll, your Praxis stipend will be direct deposited to that same account. If you are not set up for direct deposit, you may choose whether you want your first check mailed to your campus mailbox or to your permanent mailing address. Checks will not be sent to any other addresses.*

*If your permanent home mailing address is outside of the United States, you can request that your check be mailed to a U.S. address.

If You Don't Complete the Required 220 Hours

If, for extraordinary circumstances, you are forced to leave your internship before you have completed 220 work hours, you must call the Praxis Data Assistant at the Lazarus Center before you leave or, if that is not possible, immediately after. 

Students who receive Praxis stipends are expected to fulfill their commitment of 220 work hours before the beginning of the fall 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.

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 summer internships only.

When is the Praxis application deadline?

The entire Praxis funding application is due XX by 4:30 pm. This includes the following: all application forms, written statements, supervisor confirmation form, supervisor letter or email, resume and faculty adviser sign-off. If interning abroad also include travel registry and travel waiver forms.


What are the stipend amounts?

  • Domestic internships (in one’s home country/place of current residency): $3,000
  • International Internships (not in the U.S. and NOT in one’s home country): $4,000

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.
  • If you submit your application closer to the deadline, it may take more than 3 to 4 weeks.

Second Payment:

  • Expect your second and final installment of $200 to arrive 3 to 4 weeks after we receive BOTH: Final Supervisor Letter/email AND Summer Activity Report.
  • BOTH submitted no later than XX.

How many hours per weeks 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)
  • There are absolutely no exceptions.

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

Your application will not be considered for approval until all documents have been received. All parts of the application must be submitted before the deadline.


I'm a rising senior with a credit shortage. Can I still do Praxis?

You must get approval from your class dean and have it sent via email to praxis@smith.edu


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 liberal arts adviser’s signature on my application?

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

  • Submit your Faculty Sign-Off form with your Praxis Funding application OR
  • Your adviser may email confirming the approval to praxis@smith.edu.
  • If your major adviser is on sabbatical you must have the department chair sign or email us.

Can I use my Praxis funding to do an internship at Smith College?

Internships must be at organizations not affiliated with Smith College.

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 submit their supervisor confirmation form AND a letter/or email to the Lazarus Center by the Praxis deadline or your application 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 letter must be translated either by another staff member at your organization or a faculty member.


Can I work remotely and check in with my supervisor weekly?

Internships must take place at the organization’s work site, except when interns conduct work in the field or attend meetings or conferences.


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

Scheduling a Praxis Express appointment with an adviser to have your application reviewed assures that:

  • You will know on the spot if your application is complete.
  • If complete, you will know if your application is approved.
  • This appointment is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended.
  • Praxis Express appointments start in March and are available through deadline day. It takes about 20 minutes. Call 413-585-2582 to schedule.

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!

Facts for Host Organizations

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

The Praxis summer 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.

Eligible, domestic internships (in the student's home country) will receive a stipend of $3,000.

International internships (non-US and outside of the student's home country) will receive $4,000.

If you would like to hire a student summer intern funded by Smith College, please notify the student no later than May 3, 2018, that you are accepting her application for an internship with your organization. Additionally, please complete the online Supervisor Confirmation Form.

Since the beginning of the program, supervisors have been highly impressed with the caliber of their 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.

Qualifying for a Praxis Stipend

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

  • lasts a minimum of 220 hours
  • offers her work assignments that are needed by the workplace and that help her meet her learning objectives
  • allows her significant career exploration and learning opportunities
  • is supervised by a permanent, paid staff member with relevant expertise, and who meets face-to-face with the intern a minimum of once a week
  • takes place at the work site (students may not work remotely from home or from other off-site locations)

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

Please note that Smith students may only receive Praxis funding at work sites where summer interns are not normally paid. If you have other summer interns who are paid in your department, division or unit, this student would not be eligible for a stipend from the Praxis program.

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

Liability Waviers

Organizations requesting a Smith sign-off on liability waivers, assumption of risk forms or a memo of understanding must contact Beth Carmichael, Five College Risk Manager via ecarmich@mtholyoke.edu or 413-538-2730.