The Field Work Term (FWT) has been a central part of Bennington’s educational requirements since the College was founded in 1932. During this seven-week period in January and February there are no academic classes on campus. Students work in a variety of fields and geographic locations pursuing interests discovered or developed at Bennington. FWT is designed to allow students to forge professional connections, develop practical experience, and begin to discover both their role in and responsibilities to the world. FWT must be completed for each year of enrollment.
FWT runs from the beginning of January through the second week of February.
Students use their FWT in whatever way best complements their academic program and interests. FWT can be another way to combine diverse fields of study or a way to expand a focus in a specific area. FWT is a part of the overall academic program and is reviewed academically as such.
Yes. A minimum of 210 hours, averaging at least 30 hours per week, is required. The work-time requirement can be met through more than one job. Any FWT position included as part of the work-time requirement must have a supervisor available to complete a work evaluation.
Yes. Each year, between 15 and 20 percent of students work more than one FWT position.
Students find jobs by pursuing a combination of their own resources and the resources available through the FWT and Career Development Office, which lists job opportunities in a variety of fields and locations. We are here to help you prepare a résumé, apply to advertised positions, or to develop your own FWT opportunity with a site that has not worked with Bennington before. Even if you do not have a lot of work experience, you will find that securing a good internship is very possible with the proper preparation. Annually, between 200 and 300 employers post numerous positions, which are listed in the online WorkLink system.
Yes. The majority of students who go abroad during FWT do so either through a work situation they develop, or through an outside program which coordinates international internships. Students who are planning on going outside the U.S. for FWT should begin planning early as there are more logistics to consider for such a project.
Maybe. Working for a family member or friend is generally discouraged. However, there are occasionally situations in which it makes sense given a student's goals and the opportunity available. Any supervisor who is a relative, a friend, someone who reports directly to a relative or friend, or a recent Bennington College student, will need to be approved by the Director of FWT. A proposal must be written and approved both by the student and the supervisor. The proposal and approval are also required if a student works with the same organization for more than one FWT or wants to attend a professional training program.
Absolutely. In fact, annually, about 40 percent of Bennington students develop FWT experiences that are unique to their needs and interests.
Yes. Eligible students can apply to spend one FWT pursuing an independent project. Independent study is available to students who have completed at least four terms, are in good academic standing, and submit an approved proposal. Independent study is generally used by seniors preparing a final thesis or project. Students interested in pursuing an Independent study should review the requirement in the FWT Student Handbook and will need to meet with the FWT Director.
Possibly. The FWT requirement must be completed during January and February, with the following exceptions: sophomores and juniors who are approved to defer the FWT to the summer. If by unforeseen circumstance a student is unable to complete FWT during the winter, he/she may be granted a temporary incomplete and given permission to make it up during the summer. Summer make-ups without academic penalty are not guaranteed. Prior approval must be granted by the FWT and Career Development Office. Please note: summer FWTs can only count toward the academic requirement in the preceding academic year, not banked for the next year.
FWT employers complete a written evaluation form, supplied by the FWT and Career Development Office, on student work performance. Hours are documented using specific College guidelines. A student’s grade is based on employer comments, the student’s reflective essay, and whether or not the student adhered to program requirements and deadlines. Bennington rates the experience on a pass, marginal pass, or fail basis. Employer comments along with the final rating become part of a student’s permanent academic record.
Yes. If a student does not successfully complete FWT requirements he/she is unable to pass the term. A failing rating will become part of the student’s permanent academic record and the student may be required to complete a FWT make-up during the summer.
Tuition is not charged for this term, and every FWT experience is unique. The cost relates directly to the type and location of the experience as well as individual resources. Expenses to consider include relocation, housing, meals, and transportation.
Remuneration varies with each FWT position. Some are volunteer, some pay, and some offer housing in lieu of salary. Short-term positions that provide the benefit of professional development are a valuable commodity. Many employers have large numbers of students willing to volunteer in exchange for this opportunity. This is the case especially in major metropolitan areas and competitive industries such as film and television, health care and research, social services, and publishing. Many nonprofit arts or service organizations are unable to afford to fund short-term employees, but welcome volunteers.
A student should not expect to make or save money during FWT, but rather to cover basic living expenses and to learn as much as possible about the world of work. Some students find a separate part-time job to help cover costs associated with Field Work Term. This approach permits students to commit the majority of their time to the experience that is in their field of interest. Both the paid and unpaid work can be counted toward the FWT hours requirement.
FWT is not covered by student financial aid packages. A limited amount of grant money is awarded annually through the FWT and Career Development Office. Application for this funding requires a potential FWT arrangement in order to estimate expenses. Tuition assistance for students working in eligible service fields is available from the AmeriCorps Educational Service Award program. Local community service organizations are sometimes able to pay through Federal Work Study funding during FWT.
Maybe, although most students move out of their campus housing during FWT. Low-cost, on-campus accommodations are available to first-year international students whose work options are limited due to immigration regulations. If space is available, students who have been approved to complete an independent study as one of their FWT experiences, or who have a local position, may also apply to live on campus.
Traditionally, most students secure low-cost FWT housing through personal contacts, sublet/rent as a group, or return home. Housing options include listings from Bennington alumni and parent hosts and listings from employers offering housing in exchange for a job. About half of first-year students will live at home during FWT, having secured positions close to home.
Yes. During January and February, the Office is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am–4:00 pm EST. Staff are available to answer student and employer questions and to assist with any problems that may arise during FWT.