By Matthew Gulick
Career and Employment Services have devised a new way to pop the Puget Sound bubble.
For the second consecutive year the University is offering the Summer Fellowship Internship, and new this year, students can participate in the Summer Academic Internship. Both programs are designed to allow students to intern with Tacoma-based nonprofits by providing funding or credit, the Fellowship providing grant money and the Academic Internship giving class credit. Together, they constitute the Summer Immersion Internship Programs. Their focus is on experiential learning, on finding real-world applications for students’ classroom learning and giving them first-hand experience with their field of study.
The returning Summer Fellowship Internship is a program that awards a $3000 need-based fellowship to 20 qualifying students, sophomores and juniors of any major with a minimum GPA of 2.5, who work an otherwise unpaid intern position. In addition, students can live on campus for the entire summer for a nominal $100 fee. Students are required to work 28 hours per week and attend a two-hour experiential learning course for the 10-week internship period.
The new Summer Academic Internship is similar in that students intern with local non-profits, but instead of receiving a fellowship they pay 25 percent reduced summer tuition and earn academic credit. Interns work 20 hours per week and attend a three-hour experiential learning course. Like fellowship students, participants will also receive on-campus housing for a $100 fee.
As the name implies, the Immersion Internship Programs are a holistic effort to fully engage Puget Sound students with the Tacoma community. Professor Renee Houston, Associate Dean of the Experiential Learning and Civic Scholarship, deems the program a “mutually beneficial arrangement” with the non-profits. She holds that the value gained is a two-way street, because students who are otherwise unable to work an unpaid position can engage with their chosen field in a hands-on way, and non-profit organizations receive the students’ help and knowledge. Houston notes that last year the fellowship recipients offered a cumulative 5,320 hours to the non-profits and community.
Striving to more fully engage participants, the University places those who elect to live on-campus in a Greek house. In this way students can share and process their daily experiences, the realities of translating classroom to career. As Houston argues, this time to reflect and process with others is crucial to coming away from the experience with a better understanding of how what they learn in school plays out in the field.
Positions this year are available with many organizations, including Hilltop Artists, Nisqually Land Trust, Tacoma Historical Society, and the Tacoma/Pierce County Chamber of Commerce among others. e. According to the program, last year’s students had a variety of responsibilities such as conducting original research, planning events, managing social media and traveling to conferences.
Previous fellowship intern Sage Pintler served last year as Partnership & Campaign Outreach Assistant for the Greater Metro Parks Foundation and for Metro Parks Tacoma. Pintler managed the Foundation’s website and social media in support of a campaign to raise awareness of the Eastside Community Center. She conducted research on potential donors and attended outreach events to gain funding and increase interest in the center. She worked on the Parks’ Educational Partnership, connecting local youth, musicians, producers, professionals and higher education partners; recruiting community members and planning curriculum.
When asked how her education at Puget Sound prepared her for the internship, Pintler said that it “gave [her] the skills to be a professional writer” and that she also “felt very prepared for the busy schedule that came from the internship,” citing the often-hectic life of a college student as giving her the organizational tools to keep up in the workplace. On the other hand, she also realized that some of what she learned had little real-world application, though she acknowledged that Psychology and Environmental Policy “did not map directly onto what [she] was doing.”
Pintler also said that she felt a greater relationship to and understanding of the community as a result of her internship, which had allowed her to explore the city and meet a diverse group of people.
Applicants were required to attend a Feb. 6 information session, but Associate Dean Houston encourages any interested students to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the program, including a full list of opportunities, can be found at tinyurl.com/explsi.