Macalester receives grant to fund 14 unpaid internships, highlights concentrations

Macalester received a Great Lakes Career Ready Internship Grant that the Internship Program will use to provide 14 paid internships to seniors and juniors this fall. The students receiving the grant will be paid $10 an hour for their internship and will earn up to $1400 over the course of the semester. The selection process ended Sept. 23. In order to be eligible, students had to be in a concentration, planning to declare a concentration, or with a major plan overlapping with a concentration.

Great Lakes provides scholarships to juniors and seniors with demonstrated financial need in order to give them the chance to gain invaluable career experience through internships that would normally be unpaid.

“Doing internships is hugely beneficial for career planning and development,” Internship Program Director Mike Porter said. “All the research shows that students who do internships are far more likely to be hired than those who do not do internships. [Great Lakes] has a strong interest in helping students succeed.”

Last year, grants from Great Lakes funded projects in Wisconsin, covering students at 19 different colleges. This year, the program has expanded into three new states: Minnesota, Iowa and Ohio. All colleges in these states were eligible to apply for the grant, but Great Lakes looks for schools that do a good job helping students connect their academics with internships. Macalester applied in April 2013, and was one of 40 schools across the four states selected for the grant.

However, the Great Lakes group limited their grant to domestic students, a criterion Macalester felt was unfair.

“In a way, it is what it is,” Porter said. “That is how they set up their grant, but it is unfair to our student population.”

In order to provide a more fair chance to international students, the Provost’s Office has designated funds to provide paid internships for a total of eight international students, three of whom have been selected as recipients this fall.

“I’m thrilled that we are able to provide chances for all of our students,” Porter said.

The students who have been selected to receive the grants this fall are working on internships spanning a wide range of topics from refugee health to immigrant services.

International studies major and human rights and humanitarianism concentrator Nellie Bruce ’15 is completing an Immigration Services internship at the International Institute of Minnesota. According to Bruce, some of her responsibilities include helping to prepare immigrants for the citizenship test and assisting in coordinating the Diversity Visa Lottery at the International Institute.

“I was extremely happy to receive the grant, as the work I do is neither glamorous nor particularly fun, but it is the type of everyday work that can really change people’s lives,” Bruce said. “I think more internships like this one need to be looked at with merit, because even though they don’t scream ‘Wow! How exciting!’ these are the internships that prepare us for the job force.”

Biology major and community and global health concentrator Joy Ladu ’15 is working on an internship with the Minnesota Department of Health. She’s focusing on refugee health.

“I am collaborating with community based organizations (CBOs) serving the Hmong, Karen and Bhutanese communities in developing, delivering and evaluating health promotional activities focusing on infectious diseases,” Ladu said. “These activities include flu shot clinics, community radio programs and recruiting health educators. Finally, I am updating MDH’s directory of CBOs and civil surgeons serving refugees in Minnesota.”

The grant has given her the chance to forgo on-campus employment and focus on this internship.

“Receiving the grant was a great opportunity as it removed my dependence on campus employment and gave me extra time to focus on my internship projects,” Ladu said.

International studies major and human rights and humanitarianism concentrator Ben Bartenstein ’16 is receiving the grant for his internship with Round Earth Media, a Minneapolis-based company with reporters around the world. Bartenstein’s work includes reporting on immigration and working on social media and marketing strategies.

“It’s unfortunate that students who could benefit the most from an internship oftentimes cannot afford one,” Bartensein said. “It’s refreshing to see programs such as the Great Lakes Grant, which incentivize students to pursue an internship and gain work experience. I’m appreciative of the support, and I’m excited to see how students benefit from this over the years.”