Non-Traditional Social Work

Non-Traditional Social Work: Is It For Me? Forum

The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work identifies and develops opportunities in organizations and departments that may not ordinarily hire Master of Social Work professionals. We have established a strong reputation for linking companies with MSW students and alumni whose transferable skills are proving valuable in non-traditional social work settings.

Jobs in these industries typically offer higher salaries, greater variety and organizational exposure, secondary career development, management skill building and senior leadership mentoring.

Transferable Skills

  • Project development, coordination, management and evaluation
  • Multi-dimensional assessment (systems perspective) approaches to problem solving
  • Cultural competence
  • Human relationship navigation
  • Strategic relationship building
  • Community outreach and marketing
  • Knowledge of diverse populations
  • Negotiation
  • Collaboration
  • Connecting individuals and organizations to resources
  • Change management
  • Research/analytical skills (needs assessment and data analysis)

We have partnered with numerous organizations, including Wells Fargo, Sedgwick Claims Management Services (CMS), Pan American Bank, Keolis Transit America, AltaMed Health Services, Kaiser Permanente, Molina Healthcare, Ronald McDonald House of Orange County and Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti – International Trade division.

Job Functions

  • Trust administration
  • Fund development
  • Program development/management
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Strategy deployment
  • Performance and talent management
  • Organizational development
  • Marketing
  • Quality/process improvement
  • Community relations/government affairs
  • Corporate social responsibility


Non-traditional social work internships are offered to students in the Department of Community, Organization, and Business Innovation (COBI). COBI prepares students to lead and drive positive change in communities, organizations, businesses and government. Depending on the focus selected, COBI prepares students to think critically about problems in communities and organizations, identify barriers to progress and design interventions to facilitate change. COBI also prepares students for corporate settings, where they might help employees manage work/life demands, assist with philanthropic and corporate social responsibility initiatives, or help guide businesses in building positive relationships with their communities. Many non-traditional social work internships offer stipends. To learn more, visit the stipends page

Non-Traditional Social Work Scholarship

This scholarship will be awarded to students who have an interest in pursuing a non-traditional social work internship/career using their transferable skills in business environments that do not ordinarily hire social workers but see the value MSWs bring to their work settings. To learn more, visit the scholarship page.


Our non-traditional social work program has generated more than $500,000 in student stipends since 2009. Fifty percent of our interns have obtained positions as a result of their non-traditional internship.

WellsFargo First-ever MSW internship in wealth management division resulted in a full-time position as an associate trust and fiduciary specialist.
AltaMed At the largest federally qualified health center in the United States, USC MSW interns were integral in developing and implementing a senior leadership succession plan.
PanAmerican Interns helped the second oldest Latino bank in the United States move its financial literacy education curriculum program forward.
taproot Interns performed organizational needs assessments and assisted with the recruitment and training of corporate volunteers.

Employer Testimonials

“The non-traditional social work internship program has become a valuable pipeline of talent who can work in a multitude of disciplines. We have hired seven over the three years we have been involved and see that trend continuing as we move forward. Out first hires held titles such as business analyst, senior care project manager, critical quality analyst and project manager of learning opportunities. Many of them have been promoted since.” Patsy Zeigler, Vice President, Organization Effectiveness at AltaMed Health Services

Hear testimonials from employers who have hired our non-traditional social work students and alumni. If you are interested in developing a non-traditional social work internship for your organization or would like to learn more, please contact J. Juan Macias.


J. Juan Macias
Assistant Director of Professional Development