French field study and internship programs

Program in detail

Frequently Asked Questions

- 1. How are IFE’s Field Study programs different from other internship programs?
- 2. Do I need to be fluent in French?
- 3. How selective is the program?
- 4. How Do I know which city is best for me?
- 5. What are the selection criteria?
- 6. Do I need to be a specialist in some field or other?
- 7. Do I have to have some prior experience in my area of placement?
- 8. How much academic credit will I earn?
- 9. I like the idea of being out of the classroom, but...
- 10. Will I be left on my own for the whole time?
- 11. How hard is it to write a long paper in French?
- 12. I’m a little worried about being able to do this program...
- 13. Where will I be staying?



1. How are IFE’s Field Study programs different from other internship programs?

By the degree of engagement.
IFE arranges fully-involved, mission-oriented placements, closely tailored to student goals. Internships last 12 weeks, full-time. Students join a team of French professionals. The goal is to learn about France today from this prolonged, intensive contact.
Students are intensively trained for the experience beforehand and are supported throughout by the program (see FAQ #9.)
The field research aspect adds an extra dimension to both the academic and pre-career outcomes.
Lastly, students start to develop an international network.
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2. Do I need to be fluent in French?

No. Fluency is an outcome of the program. Incoming students need to have good basic conversation skills, and oral comprehension (understand a lecture delivered in clear French). For most students this is equivalent of five or six college semesters.
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3. How selective is the program?

IFE students tend to self-select. Most come from IFE partner schools, who recognize the uniqueness and educational value of the Paris Field Study and Internship Program. In addition, they are students who: have acquired French skills prior to enrollment; feel ready for IFE as undergraduates (others may decide to enroll after graduation); embrace the fact that The IFE Field Study Program is intellectually stimulating and does not constitute "time off from school" in Paris.
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4. How Do I know which city is best for me ?

City choice is an important part of the decision to study abroad, but for IFE’s Field Study and Internship program model the
best choice for some students may be to remain open and “flexible”, for several reasons:

  • A clear preference for one city is not necessary for admission to IFE; many students choose IFE’s programs for their structure and content and not city-specific factors
  • Students may not be aware of which city offers the best opportunities for their chosen subject or theme. IFE welcomes (even encourages!) students to get in touch to discuss which city may offer the most appropriate setting to accomplish their goals.)

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5. What are the selection criteria?

Successful applicants are conscientious students, with good grades (approx. 3.0+ GPA), solid study and organizational habits, a high degree of intellectual curiosity, the requisite personal stability for cross-cultural living, and good French skills (see FAQ #2).
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6. Do I need to be a specialist in some field or other?

No, not at all, but specialists are welcome! The IFE Field Study and Internship Program meets liberal arts goals by providing prolonged, in-depth and thoughtful exposure to contemporary Europe. The Field Study Program is equally suitable for English Literature majors or for budding engineers, musicians or public policy makers. In addition, it is a highly personalized program.
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7. Do I have to have some prior experience in my area of placement?

This is not necessary, but can be useful in certain fields. Obviously some placements are more technical than others. Science students seeking a laboratory internship will have had prior lab experience; art museum placements are for students with some art history courses, and so forth. IFE will make full use of any background students bring, and which they wish to pursue. Work or travel experience, coursework (e.g. economics), other languages or cultures, and so forth. The only prerequisites are the selection criteria (FAQ #5).
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8. How much academic credit will I earn?

Students from schools which have pre-approved the IFE Field Study and Internship Program should go over this issue with their study abroad advisor. (In nearly all cases, students earn a semester-equivalent of academic credit.) If needed, students can obtain a transfer transcript from Franklin & Marshall College for work accomplished at IFE. For information on this option, please contact IFE directly.
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9. I like the idea of being out of the classroom, but...

The Field Study and Internship Program offers an ideal mix of intellectual activity and "escape" from the classroom. On one hand, students’ grey matter is fully stimulated by:

  • the preparatory program,
  • an intellectually challenging professional involvement,
  • the guided research project,
  • and the European Seminar.

On the other hand, students take the Paris metro to work Monday through Friday for three months. Some students choose a research internship as an extension of their academic work. Others seek to complement their studies with hands-on learning.
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10. Will I be left on my own the whole time?

Absolutely not. IFE is an educational organization for university-level instruction and learning. It is NOT an agency. The Field Study program includes a full range of accompaniment and advising, for courses, for the internship, for research, and so forth. All classroom activities take place at the IFE Center in Paris, and program staff are involved with each student throughout the 18-week semester including:

  • daily proximity during the preparatory session (first 5 weeks);
  • weekly contact when the European Seminar meets;
  • conversation and advising at any time with any of IFE staff members;
  • regular individual research advising for the IFE paper;
  • on-site midway evaluation, of the internship with the host organization including written reports of the evaluation by both student and host (a triangle of the intern, the program and the sponsoring office forms the foundation of an IFE internship);
  • full availability of IFE staff for questions or difficulties related to the internship or other aspects of the program;
  • full availability for urgent or emergency matters. Last but not least, IFE is happy to fill out recommendations for former students applying to graduate schools or jobs.

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11. How hard is it to write a long paper in French?

Not as hard as you think. The IFE research paper (or mémoire de stage) is closely related to the internship itself. Typically IFE internships are focused on a major question, some aspect of which becomes the paper topic. Students are involved with their research question and related issues on a daily basis, and in French. Source materials and interviews are readily available. Each student works individually with an IFE-briefed research advisor, on all aspects of the project.
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12. I’m a little worried about being able to do this program...

The IFE semester should be seen as a series of steps or stages. At the end of the program students have developed capabilities they did not have at the beginning: linguistic and cultural skills, professional expertise, research methodology and others. All of these capabilities are developed step-by-step within the structured program, throughout the 18-week semester. Any student meeting the criteria listed in FAQ #5 can successfully complete the IFE Paris Field Study and Internship Program. You are encouraged to speak with returning students on your campus or among the alumni of your school and/or to ask IFE for contact information of former IFE students willing to speak with you about your experience, including ones in your intended field.
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13. Where will I be staying?

IFE will arrange housing for students who would like this service. IFE’s housing policy emphasizes language immersion and the opportunity to make local acquaintances. Students may choose either family-stay or student residencies (foyers – IFE works with ones whose principal clientele is French and European students). Students may also arrange their own housing.

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