by Nanci Weinberger and Sandra Enos
The value of a high-quality internship where students are challenged to apply and extend their talents and skills is invaluable. In some cases, it focuses career interests; in other cases, it redirects them. Unfortunately not all students can take advantage of these opportunities. Not all internships are paid which, for students who need to supplement their income through summer employment, serves as a significant barrier. Opportunities that may be of special interest to an Arts & Sciences major—in nonprofits, museums, hospitals, arts and culture, social entrepreneurship and others—are the least likely to be paid. The impact of these two factors means that arts and sciences students may be underserved with regard to accessing and benefitting from internships that create enormous value for students, their employers and our institution.
For two summers now, the AMICA Center for Career Education has sponsored Summer Internship Fellowships to address this problem head on. Students apply for these opportunities in the spring semester and their applications are reviewed by a panel of judges. One of us (Professor Weinberger) served as a reviewer of these applications.
A total of eight students from Arts & Sciences were awarded a fellowship in this summer’s program. A short review shows the immense power of these opportunities.
Actuarial Mathematics major, Matthew Merolla ’19, worked with Level Exchange, a social enterprise aimed at creating more opportunities and better working conditions for musicians. This start-up enterprise was founded by Lindsey Lerner Global Studies alum ’12. This experience put Matt where he wants to be—creating a business in the music industry.
The Guggenheim Museum, one of the most prestigious in the world, has been the summer workplace for History Major Zeynup Kazmaz ’17. Despite stiff competition from students from other universities, Zeynup was selected for this important opportunity. A native of Istanbul, Turkey, Zeynup worked with leading curators over the summer on an exhibit that will be installed in her home country. As she wrote,
Having an internship in Arts and Sciences proves that there are just as many opportunities for these majors to apply their skills in real life organizations, and that you can in fact work in an area that you want to.
One of the major problems of the poor is lack of access to institutions that are enjoyed by other citizens. Payday lending is a practice that takes advantage of the poor and their lack of access to credit. Marta Gravier, Sociology-Service Learning Major ’17, partnered with the Providence-based Capital Good Fund, whose mission is to drive payday lenders out of business by creating an alternative source of capital and small loans. The Capital Good Fund seeks to become a national model.
This was my stuff—my major is in sociology. I love trying to figure out what solutions are most effective in making a system and a society better. This includes research, project development, and entrepreneurial spirit.
Sophomore Harrison Garrett ’19, worked in the Connecticut office of U.S. Congressman John Larson on constituent affairs. Majoring in Applied Economics, he hopes to find a career in public policy. During his internship, he faced many long days as the Congressman was involved in major issues during the summer.
At Congressman John Larson’s District Office, I gained hands-on political experience working with both outreach and constituent services. As a student majoring in the College of Arts and Sciences, I believe this program is very important because it gives students the financial support to work unpaid or low-paying internships, rather than a traditional summer job.
Allison Miller ’17, majoring in Communication, spent the summer working with RI senior Senator, Jack Reed.
My summer internship with U.S. Senator Jack Reed provided me with so many truly formative and life-changing experiences. I have gained such important skills in my Political Science and Communication classes as a double major. The opportunity to apply both sets of knowledge in a real world position solidified the value of pursuing both of my passions as an undergraduate. I am thankful for the opportunity I had with Senator Reed and all of the support and guidance I received from faculty in the Political Science and Communication faculty along the way.
For students who have their sights on entering doctoral programs, research opportunities are essential. Applied Psychology major, Ryan Brown ’17, secured a research assistantship at the Biobehavioral Mechanisms Explaining Disparities Lab, Department of Psychology at Rice University. She was involved in their Project Heart program which examines the connections between respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), depression, attachment insecurity, and inflammation in a cross-sectional and longitudinal sample of bereaved and non-bereaved individuals.
“As a student of the College of Arts & Sciences with the intent of applying to graduate school, my summer internship gave me essential experience working in a health-oriented lab. Not only did this experience build my resume, it also set me up to succeed in graduate school.”
Applied Psychology major, Dinnea DiGrigoli ’17, worked at the Seven Hills Foundation-ASPiRE! Program. The goal of ASPiRE! is to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to develop skills necessary to pursue interests in employment, recreation, and social interaction. This will then help to enrich lives, broaden core competencies, and enjoy a full range of activities while building a network of relationships in and around their communities. Dinnea participated within classes such as employment, sports, music, technology, and multimedia clubhouse. In these classes, she assisted those individuals who needed guidance. At Seven Hills, the staff are all very keen on guiding those, rather than doing what they need help with for them. Dinnea was able to attend staff meetings, which she reports was an eye-opening experience too.
Majoring in Applied Psychology, Katlyn Wyatt ’17 worked at the Crotched Mountain Foundation serving a population of children with severe behavioral and cognitive challenges. Her experiences involved both staff support and direct work with the children.
My experience as a Psychology Intern at the Crotched Mountain Foundation this summer was transformative due to the enriching, emotional experiences, and rapport I built, and most importantly, the overall experience profoundly contributed to my personal and professional development.
As professors we understand that high quality internships are a two-way street, benefitting the larger community or agency, as well as enriching the personal and professional development of students. In our experience, we find that these opportunities afford students with the sort of challenges that build their intellectual curiosity and broaden their worldview—invaluable ways to spend a productive summer.