Internship program and MCSG fund pilot program for summer internship grants

On April 26, the Internship Program announced the 11 recipients of the Macalester Summer Internship Grant. Recipients will receive $4,500 each for their summer internships, with the exception of two students who receive half of the regular amount because their internships are part-time.

The Macalester Summer Internship Grant is a pilot program for the summer of 2015 which provides fundings to students who have full-time unpaid internships. There is no regional or national restriction, so internships can be done anywhere in the world. Michael Porter, director of the Internship Program, said he has been advocating for this program for a long time.

“Every year since I’ve been here, I’ve been approached by all kinds of students who were hoping to find ways to fund their phenomenal internships during summer,” he said. “It has been horrible [to let students down] because we [did not] really have a financial program set up to provide help through Macalester.”

Last year, however, the importance of funding students’ vocational education was recognized by Macalester’sstrategic plan. “That resulted in a committee being formed last December,” Porter said. “We worked on developing a skeleton of what the program would look like.”

However, the program was not meant to launch until summer 2016. It was the collaboration between Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) and the Internship Program that made the pilot program possible in 2015. “I was doubtful about making this happen this year,” Porter said. “But I forwarded the request to the administration, and they came back by the first week of April with a decision that they had found funds to be able to put together a pilot program this summer.”

He explained that the administration “saw the value in trying to start small and learn how [the school] could make this happen, and then be able to use the stories from the funding as a way to help convince the donors that they should give to this program.”

As a result of the collaborative efforts of the Internship Program, MCSG and the administration, 11 grantees were selected among the pool of 44 applicants.

Qinxi Wang ’18 is the only first-year student to receive the grant. She will be working for Simularity, a startup company in the Bay Area which specializes in data processing, including machine learning and pattern analyzing.

She will be helping the company analyze data, which relates to her academic and career plan. She said getting the grant enabled her to extend the duration of the internship.

“If I didn’t get the funding, I would have probably worked for a shorter term,” she said. “I originally planned to work for eight to 12 weeks, but now I can work for at least 12 weeks.”

Ilana Budenosky ’17, a rising junior majoring in studio art, is another recipient of the grant. This summer, she will be interning for Wonder Workshop Children’s Museum in Manhattan, Kansas.

“I will be sort of an artist in residence, helping them curate the exhibition about race and social justice,” she said. “As an art major, I will be creating posters and original artwork for the exhibition.”

She said that she will be saving a lot of the grant and put some of the money to her tuition and work study that she was not going to have in the fall.

Even though she will be living at home and be provided with food and housing, the grant will enable her to work full time for the internship. “If I didn’t get the funding, I would have to take on quite a few hours in a paid summer job as a waitress, [meaning] I would have to spend less time on the internship,” she said.

Jolena Zabel ’16, a member of MCSG who worked with the Internship Program to develop the Summer Internship Grant, is also one of the recipients. She received half of the amount compared to other students, because her internship is a part-time position.

As a part of the Amy Ostermeier Human Rights Fellowship, Zabel will be working at the State Department in the office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights. “I study international studies, English and political science with a human rights concentration, so it is exactly in line with my career ambition,” Zabel said.

David Goldstein ’16 , another recipient of the grant, will also be working at the State Department, but in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).

“It is an organization that gives aid to refugees throughout the world,” he said. “I’ll be attending night classes and different council meetings and doing networking.” Goldstein said he has been looking for a way to fund his internship ever since he was accepted as an intern for State Department. “[The grant] made the internship possible,” he said. “If I didn’t have significant funding, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

He plans to use his $4,500 grant towards his housing in Washington DC. “I will be living in DC the whole summer, and it costs at least $3,000 for housing.

The rest of it will go towards food,” he explained.

There were many criteria for the selection. “First and foremost, the quality of the application was an important factor,” Porter said. “We also looked at how the internship tied to students’ academics, their career plans, and what they would be doing specifically for the organization.” Also, the capacity of the organization to support interns also impacted the committee’s decision. “We wanted to make sure we have the diversity to address more of the student population,” Porter said.

Porter said that the program will possibly grow in following years. “Our goal is to run through the program this summer, and gain a lot of experience on how to run the program,” he said. “Next year, we will have a program that starts much earlier, so we will have much more time to make it happen.”

It is unsure how much the grant is going to expand next year. “It depends on how the fundraising goes,” Porter explained. “We are targeting 25 grantees right now, and that would actually be a good place to go because this does take a lot of time and energy administratively.”