French field study and internship programs

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Student Profiles

IFE firmly believes that a second semester spent abroad far more than doubles a student’s linguistic, intellectual and inter-cultural gains. In order to encourage full-year programs, IFE has developed several options in which a second, more advanced semester builds on the first semester.


1. Students who have completed the Gateway program as preparation for one of IFE’s Field Study and Internship programs

- As a Gateway student, Natalia, a French and Dance major, worked part-time at a professional dance company as an effective and fulfilling means to perfect her French skills. Continuing in the Spring with IFE’s Paris Field Study and Internship program, she worked as an assistant to both teachers and administrators in a lycée outside Paris, becoming familiar with the French education system (and contributing her dance skills to the school drama club!). She also took part in an international exchange among high school students held in Spain. Her independent field research paper took a look at two controversial issues at the time: guidance counseling and student evaluation and testing.

- Kathryn spent her Gateway “conversational” internship with an association of young women from immigrant community backgrounds, an experience that led her to change her major from art history to social affairs and to return to this organization for her full-time Field Study internship. She participated more fully in all aspects of a dynamic activist organization, including presentations in schools, organized community debates, etc., while conducting research on what grassroots activist feminism should aim to accomplish.

- Liz applied the Sorbonne French instruction to daily tasks as a communications intern with Mains d’Oeuvres, a center for the performing and visual arts on the northern edge of Paris, where she had a chance to interact with the center’s staff, with artists, and with various public groups including workshops for children. Gaining confidence and knowledge through the Gateway, Liz felt ready to pursue her passion for photography in the Paris Field Study and Internship program, as an intern in the photography service of the Ministry of the Interior. In time, the director had confidence to send her out on assignment by herself. For the independent field research project, Liz analyzed the Ministry’s communication on the head scarf issue.

- Jennifer took advantage of the Gateway program including a conversational internship with an art restoration studio, l’Atélier du Temps Passé, to gain skills and confidence in preparation for the Spring semester with the Paris Field Study and Internship program, where she worked as a program assistant with Paris’ art museum for children, the Musée en Herbe. The Atelier is also a school for restoration, which gave Jennifer ample opportunity for interaction with student, valuable experience for the following semester at the Musée where she participated in studio workshops for school groups and even — midway through the internship — was able to lead the tour of the museum for groups of children. A true test of her French skills!

- Breanna’s Gateway semester included an internship as an administrative assistant at the Research Center for the Near East, at France’s prestigious National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO). This experience Breanna her confident and ready for the Spring semester in the Paris Field Study and Internship program where she worked as an assistant to the Principal of a Paris high school (lycée) and was given charge of a school-wide survey of health issues and practices among adolescents. Breanna carried out this in-depth survey class-by-class, meeting with students to explain and administer the questionnaire. For her field research, Breanna applied this same method to study students’ feelings and ideas about religion. Her director was glad to have this additional insight into one of French society’s current issues — religion and society — at the level of his own establishment.


2.Students who have completed another French-language program before enrolling in one of IFE’s Field Study and Internship programs

- Every year some students choose to construct a staged year abroad in France by first completing a semester with a more conventional form of study abroad in Paris or elsewhere as preparation for taking full advantage of the challenges and opportunities presented by one of IFE’s Field Study and Internship programs.
- In some cases students enroll in their own university’s French-language program, in Paris or in another French city.
- In other cases students enroll in a conventional French-language program approved by their university.
-  In all cases IFE is available to the student well before actual enrollment in one of IFE’s programs for advising, discussion of possible internship placement and any other ways IFE can contribute to an integrated, full-year experience.
- Student profiles overall illustrate four key points:

  • During the first semester students advance and consolidate their acquisition of French language and inter-cultural skills, providing them additional confidence in approaching the IFE Field Study and Internship program.
  • The first semester and second semester complement each other by providing both classroom learning and field experience.
  • Students may choose to pursue courses during the first semester which prepare them for the field in which they will choose to focus their internship and field study in the second semester.
  • During the second semester, IFE uses the gains made by students in the first semester to seek more advanced placements and/or those requiring stronger French skills in order for the intern to be successful.


3.Students who have completed one of IFE’s Field Study and Internship programs as a complement to and preparation for direct enrollment in l’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris ("Sciences Po")

- Profiles of students who have recently completed the full-year program of IFE and Sciences Po include

  • An International Relations major who worked on historical patterns or immigration and current levels of and need for immigration in European countries
  • An Economics and Geography major interested in urban affairs who performed a cost-benefit analysis of green building stimuli for the cit of Paris
  • A Political Science major who analyzed the prospects for EU-US relations in the wake of Barack Obama’s election, for a European affairs think tank
  • An Anthropology major who learned tools developed by his host research center that use the internet and social media to study human migratory patterns
  • A Political Science major who worked in the Immigration Policy Office of the French Ministry of the Interior, analyzing naturalization policy and practices.

- * In all cases the first semester at IFE prepares students linguistically, culturally and intellectually to be able to enroll in the core, French-language courses at Sciences Po, alongside some of France’s most capable young people.
- * In many cases students elect to take up IFE’s offer of a supplementary internship in the late Spring and Summer, following the Sciences Po semester.
- * These students have had this to say about the coherence between their two semesters:

  • “Once again I want to express my gratitude for my experience at IFE and at the three internships I had the privilege to hold this past year in Paris [IRIS, geo-political think tank; IDRI, research institute in IR; and CERI, international affairs research center]. At CERI, even though a shorter internship, I was able to carry out some very interesting research on immigration and demographic trends, and my boss is going to mention my name in the Atlas of Immigration she is about to publish!”
  • “I expect that my internship experience last Fall together with my current courses will help me produce a good senior thesis!”
  • “ Everything considered, I feel that the Fall semester with IFE prepared my well to face to challenges of this semester at Sciences Po. Thank you again so much!”
  • “The IFE classes were first and foremost a comprehensive, in-depth overview of the material typical French students study and prepare for on the challenging entrance exams that siphon out the best students from the rest. Without those courses, I would have been a big step behind in my work from the very beginning. In addition to greatly augmenting my knowledge on French history, culture and society, the French history course at IFE was a perfect prep for my class on political currents in 20th century France at Sciences Po.”
  • “From the standpoint of acquiring French skills and understanding French culture, I felt a great continuity between the two semesters. I am very glad to have gone through IFE’s preparation before being immersed in Sciences Po”.
  • “I would like to thank you again for your tremendous efforts to make this such a fantastic year for IFE students, and certainly for me personally. I could not have been happier with the way the year unfolded, particularly with my meaningful and demanding internships in such impressive organizations.”
  • "The Fall semester with IFE helped me alot in adjusting to the rhythm of life at Sciences Po. I have been able to take courses — in French — in multiculturalism and equal opportunity, educational institutions of France, French national identity, and culture and globalization. There has been a direct and useful link between what I learned at IFE and what has been demanded of me here at Sciences Po. The meeting IFE arranged during the Fall with officials at Sciences Po was also very useful."


4.Students who enroll in one of IFE’s Field Study and Internship programs as a complement to and preparation for direct enrollment in upper level courses in the Paris University system through Academic Programs Abroad (APA)

This new program serves the needs of students who would like to pursue a specific area of study at a relatively advanced level within the French university system, and also combine classroom learning with field experience. Enrolling in one of IFE’s Field Study and Internship programs in the Fall semester, they acquire fluency in French and also a good deal of knowledge in their field in the social sciences or humanities. As a result they are qualified and confident for enrollment in the advanced-level courses in their field in the University of Paris, as offered through IFE’s partner program Academic Programs Abroad, a specialist in such enrollment. Students also take full advantage of all that APA’s Paris program has to offer.

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