City Semester Pittsburgh

Questions and Answers for Community Partners

What is the Penn State City Semester Pittsburgh Program?

Modeled after study abroad programs, City Semester Pittsburgh provides second-, third- and fourth-year Penn State students with an exceptional immersive experience in urban sustainability. Living in the heart of Pittsburgh, students are matched with community partners for their internship, take relevant online courses, and join their cohort of City Semester students in the 3-credit, 497 Urban Sustainability course taught at the Penn State Center Pittsburgh. Student placements will be offered during the fall and spring semesters.

How Many Hours Per Week Will the Student be Available for Community Placement Work?

The community partner placement is typically a 20-hour internship, but may be adjusted based on the student’s academic needs for the semester, the student’s availability, and scope of work you require as a community partner. Due to their course requirements, we ask that you not schedule work for the students on Mondays. Otherwise, you are free to establish an agreed-upon schedule with the student.

How Many Students will be Placed per Community Partner and/or Project?

Depending on the number of interested community partners, scope of work for projects, and availability of qualified students, it is possible for more than one student to be placed with one community partner. A separate application is required for each request.

Why Would a Community Partner be Interested in Participating in this Program?

City Semester Pittsburgh matches community partners with knowledgeable, capable students from various Penn State academic programs, including business, communications, community environment development, earth and mineral science policy, geography, health and human development, landscape architecture; marketing, recreation, parks and tourism management, and sustainability leadership.

Penn State will provide you with the student intern who is best matched with your company or organization to carry out the desired scope of work and community impact for your project.

If Placed with a Community Partner, Will the Students be Paid?

There is no cost to you for the student intern during City Semester placement. If you typically pay your other interns, you may choose to pay the student, but you are not required to as part of this program.

Who Matches the Student with a Community Partner‘s Needs?

Penn State Center Pittsburgh staff carefully offer you the best student match, based on your scope of work, specific project, and the student’s interests, skills, experience, and expertise. Penn State students come from a variety of programs and majors and/or the Sustainability Leadership minor, with a specific interest in urban sustainability.

If There are HR or Performance Issues, Who is Responsible?

The City Semester manager at Penn State Center Pittsburgh, in collaboration with the Penn State faculty internship coordinator, will address any HR or performance issues identified by the community partner.

Are There Any Other Requirements of the Community Partner?

In addition to meeting the internship placement requirements, the Penn State City Semester Pittsburgh program expects community partners to:

  • participate in an orientation lunch meeting on the first Monday of the semester
  • respond to the City Semester Pittsburgh manager for two midterm check-ins during the semester and/or inform the manager of any HR or performance issues with the student, as necessary
  • provide an assessment of the student’s performance in accordance with the internship requirements
  • complete a brief post-placement program survey to inform the City Semester program
  • attend the end-of-semester student presentations held from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Penn State Center Pittsburgh. More details regarding the date of this event will be forthcoming.

During Community placement, Who is Responsible for Liability? Are There any Restrictions Placed on Where a Student can Work, or the Work Content?

The University’s insurance does not extend to cover the student’s actions while the student is working for the community site. If the community site requires liability insurance, the site needs to inform the student of this requirement as soon as possible so that the student can purchase the required insurance and verify that it was purchased.

How Can a Community Partner Participate?

Prospective community partners need to submit an online project proposal that includes the community partner’s legal name, project supervisor, project overview, desired student skills, preferred student availability per week, resources offered to the student, desired project results, and community impact.

Community Partner Proposal Open for SPRING 2020: Now
Community Partner Proposal Close: Fri., Oct. 4, 2019
Community Partners Are Notified of Student Placements: Wed., Dec. 11, 2019
Orientation Lunch and Student Placements Begin: Mon., Jan. 13, 2020

Please direct any inquiries to Lisa Kunst Vavro at the Penn State Center Pittsburgh at or call 412-263-1753.