Amanda Jo Williams '04, a biology major with a concentration in environmental studies,
near the summit of Mt. Avery, CO, in the summer of 2002, when she worked as a
research assistant at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory with a "Green Grant" from the College.
Summers beyond the comfort zone
Internships with private sector companies are often paid positions, but those with non-profit organizations, such as museums, environmental groups or community development programs, rarely provide stipends. Unpaid summer internships are not an option for students receiving financial aid (nearly 60 percent of Bryn Mawr undergraduates), who must contribute summer earnings to their college costs. The College and the Challenging Women Campaign have made additional internships a priority so that the full range of opportunities is available to all students.
While this money is being raised, the College is using campaign start-up funds provided by a no-interest loan from the Pew Charitable Trusts to support 20-25 new summer internships. Over the past three years, these have provided recipients with $3,200 stipends, or less for a shorter term project. "More students apply for these internships every year," said Dean of the Undergraduate College Karen M. Tidmarsh '71. "They make an enormous difference in students' lives, since they help not only in career selection and preparation but also in allowing them to test their skills in a work place setting directly related to their interests. For many, they are great confidence boosters. We would love eventually to have three to four times as many stipends to offer as we do now. The need and the interest is certainly there."
In most cases, a student must have identified or applied for a specific internship to be eligible for a designated stipend from the College. The Community Service and Career Development offices maintain an online database of more than 1,500 internships, and staff assist students in their research. Many students also find excellent internship opportunities through their academic departments, faculty, and PRAXIS courses, which include field-work placements.
The CDO included 1001 BrynMawr sophomores, juniors and seniors in a recent survey of student career interests. The top areas were community and social services, and education, followed by public service and the arts. The remaining categories, in descending order, were law, the sciences, business, communications, health care, and technology.
The College funds a summer internship, project, or field experience in or related to the visual or performing arts. Tazneem Paghdiwala '04 used her grant to work at FilmAid International, a UN-sponsored project that sets up film screenings at refugee camps, to secure film equipment for a new site in Afghanistan.
The Center for Visual Culture also awards small grants for history of art or visual culture summer projects, which may or may not require travel. Undergraduates have interned at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of Modern Art, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. At the latter's Egyptian, Classical and Ancient Art Department, Bridget Costello '03 helped compile a database from the accession cards of every object in the collection. Other recent projects have been the filming of a documentary about a Philadelphia interfaith group that has rebuilt houses of worship in Mississippi, El Salvador and Philadelphia; a series of painted self-portraits that explore classic images of women and the role of the female painter; and a search, through photography, of cultural boundaries on Brick Lane, London, a predominantly Muslim neighborhood of Bangladeshis, with an historic orthodox Jewish population as well as "yuppie" newcomers and boutiques.
In the summer of 2001, she worked with Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky, Inc. (RROKI), an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that travels throughout the state picking up sick, injured and orphaned birds of prey, and runs public education programs.
Williams often went on rescues and was trained to give first aid and provide intial triage. She also assisted the veterinarian when examining birds. "She was constantly explaining to me the processes that she went through to arrive at her diagnosis, the options for treatment, and the reasoning behind her final decision," Williams said.
"The experience Ireceived at RROKI was anything but narrow, often draining, and always absolutely amazing," she said. "Whether it was the exhilaration of a wild creature perched calmly on my arm or the fierce joy of a release, I was completely submerged in their world. I am now and forever, a raptor addict."
Williams continued to hone her bird handling skills in the summer of 2002 as a research assistant to Dr. Johannes Foufopoulos of Princeton University at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. For a study of the effect of parasites on the reproductive success of mountain white-crowned sparrows, team members trapped, banded, examined, and administered anti-malarial drugs or placebos to sparrows before releasing them. As the season progressed, their attention turned to locating nests and examining fledglings as well.
"This summer provided an extremely valuable introduction to field research and experimental design," said Williams, who will take a year off after graduating to work as a research assistant before starting a Ph.D. in disease ecology.
In the summer of 2002, Elizabeth Bonovitz '04, a political science major, worked in Washington D.C. for Senator Arlen Spector. "It was an interesting experience, but I felt that Iwanted more community involvement and to work one-on-one with people who needed the services," Bonovitz said. "I really wanted to get involved in policy from the opposite end."
Through an internship from Bryn Mawr's Center for Ethnicities, Communities and Social Policy, Bonovitz found herself doing just that last summer at Children's Futures, a comprehensive family advancement program in Trenton, NJ.
Bonovitz was told to visit the four CF parent-child centers in each of Trenton's wards, find out what they needed, and help them.
"The vision for these centers was that they were going to be hustling and bustling with activity and offer resources for parenting, health issues, job placement, and day care," she said. "They had good home visiting programs, but the facilities were so new that there wasn't much going on at the centers themselves." She developed and ran a class for pregnant women and new mothers in stress reduction, relaxation, and exercise, and trained staff to continue teaching the classes after her internship ended.
"One thing I hadn't expected was the amount I needed my Spanish, because some of the women spoke no English at all," said Bonovitz, who had spent a month studying the language in Nicaragua before arriving in Trenton. "I had been worried about forgetting what I had learned. I want to be able to use it to communicate with people when I begin my career in public policy." She has applied to graduate schools in public policy.
Another recipient of a grant from the Center for Ethnicities, Communities and Social Policy, French major Elizabeth Nguyen '04 worked at Philadelphia's District Health Care Center #3, which provides free health care and medicine to patients of low socioeconomic status if they are city employees.
Initially, Nguyen's main job was to translate French for patients, a large percentage of whom are francophone African immigrants.
"There were three other translators," she recalled. "I was the first college intern the Center had ever had, and they weren't quite sure what to do with me, so I was given a room and told to help out wherever I could."
Nguyen took the initiative, learning how to do vitals, such as taking blood pressure, and prep for doctors and nurses. She worked in the pharmacy, organized health materials for patients, and started an art and music camp for pediatric patients. She also organized a Health Care Career and College Day for patients of high-school age, who spent half of the day shadowing staff and then toured colleges and universities in the area for the second half of the day.
"I really liked that I was working in a small clinic and doing more than just translating," she said. "I met patients multiple times, so was able to form relationships with them."
As a result of Nguyen's efforts, the Center wants more interns, so she is publicizing her experience to nearby colleges and universities.
She plans to teach French for a year before beginning medical school, where she will study to become a pediatrician.
The Center's other 2003 fellows interned at the Center on Housing Rights and Evictions in Geneva; for Senator Edward Kennedy's Health Subcommittee Office of the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor, Health, Welfare and Pensions; the International Leadership Foundation in Washington, D.C.; and the Women's Law Project in Philadelphia.
Since 1998, the College has received generous gifts from Sheila Gamble Cook '42 to support multiple internships for students interested in urban education or environmental issues. As a freshman, Molly Baade '05 was awarded a Cook Internship that allowed her to teach English for six weeks at Tungwah High School in Dongguan, southern China, through the Cultural Homestay International (CHI) program.
With a Chinese co-teacher, Baade taught two three-week sessions of 10 students each. The high school provided workbooks and Baade prepared lessons each night. Classes ran five days a week, five and a half hours split between the morning and afternoon. "One afternoon a week each class got to use the school bus," Baade said. "We took field trips to the bank, the post office, the mall, and many other places to reinforce the vocabulary that we'd been teaching."
Baade also had her students write journal entries each morning on a topic provided and then they would discuss their responses. "I really got to know the students through their journal entries," she said.
"My students were fantastic. It was such a joy to see their English abilities progress. Their regular school year is very intense and tightly regimented; there are more than 60 students in each classroom, so learning English had consisted of their listening to the teacher talk for an hour a day. The summer camp gave them the opportunity for actual speaking participation."
She grew especially close to her first group of 10. "They were my family in China; they even began calling me 'mother' toward the end of their session," she said. "All of my students e-mail me and ask about my life back in America."
Baade had originally wanted to travel to China because she was studying Mandarin at Bryn Mawr. She is majoring in anthropology and minoring in East Asian studies.
She also gained new respect for those who teach. "Now I understand how frustrating it is when a student is late to class or doesn't do the homework," she said. "Being a teacher has made me a better student."
Baade began working at the Career Development Office last spring. "I love it there," she said. "When I was a freshman and began using the CDO's resources to look for an internship abroad, I knew that I wanted to work in this office. My primary job is to enter internships into our online database, OCEAN. I really enjoy helping people realize what opportunities are out there for the taking, and I like being able to see firsthand what internships are coming in."
There is a possibility that Baade will return to China with CHI this summer, but she is also looking for a job or internship in the Philadelphia area.
Funds provided by the Price Institute have supported several internships for students interested in entrepreneurship.
Last summer, Price recipient Louise Tillett, a McBride Scholar, created a business website for Laura Chalfant '97, M.A. '00 and a database for her client contact and marketing list. Chalfant is a certified practitioner of Rolfing, a connective tissue massage therapy; her business, Holistic Body Therapies, specializes in women and children. Tillett developed graphics for the site and organized the content information from Chalfant's past newsletters. "Laura is an extraordinary entrepreneur," Tillett said. "I really enjoyed working with her because my time was spent learning and growing as a business woman."
BMC Summer of Service|
This summer, five Bryn Mawr undergraduates undertook projects through the College's Summer of Service program, which has funded several community-service internships in each of the past three years.
Each student spent 32 hours a week working in a volunteer service site for 10 weeks. Grace Darkwa '06 worked with the Food Stamp Enrollment Campaign in West Philadelphia; Katherine Klenn '06 volunteered at Laurel House, a domestic-abuse shelter for women in Montgomery County; Beatrice Lucaciu '05 worked in Lower Merion at Hedwig House, which provides support and assistance to adults who have mental illness; Lindsey Giblin '06 volunteered at Project Rainbow, a day-care center for children in a North Philadelphia transitional-housing program for homeless women and their children; and Ingrid Hansen '04 worked at Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA.
The students lived together at Perry House on Bryn Mawr's campus. They were given a budget and put in charge of planning, shopping, preparing their meals and cleaning the house. They and Community Service Office staff members participated in team-building activities and a group service project organized by Darkwa. Over the course of the summmer, CSO staffers Debra Rubin, Ca-Lishea Woods and Ellie Esmond met regularly with the students to discuss the effects of the service time upon them and their clients as well as the challenges related to living together and faced on the work site.
Hansen's interest in Planned Parenthood stemmed from her Praxis III independent study, with Associate Professor of Philosophy Christine Koggel, on the traditional abortion debate in the context of recent feminist criticisms. She did her fieldwork in the surgical department of the abortion clinic, where she was trained to be a pre-procedure counselor, and is now a part-time staff member.
"At each counseling session, I have the opportunity to educate, comfort, clarify, laugh, and most importantly, listen to the stories women tell me about their lives," Hansen said. "Through my work at PP and at Greater Philadelphia Women's Medical Fund, my current work/study job, a striking portrait of social injustice has been revealed to me. It has gotten under my skin, and my heart is in this work for the long term."
Alumnae Regional Scholars
The Alumnae Regional Scholars (ARS) program offers paid summer internships to students on financial aid. At Alumnae Council, a committee of ARS chairs from each region chooses recipients from among those recommended by the Dean's office on the basis of academic performance, personal and scholarly initiative, and demonstrated creativity and leadership. Scholars work with the Dean's office on their projects and internships.
Erin O'Keefe '05, an ARS Scholar from Massachusetts who also held a Picker Peace Internship and is a Bryn Mawr Posse Scholar, spent last summer working in the international economics section of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. A double major in mathematics and classical culture and society, she viewed her internship as a two-part project. "One was working at the Mission; the other was going to a foreign country where I knew no one and didn't speak the language," she said. "I was forced to learn French and adapt. I think it wouldn't have been such a valuable experience for me if I hadn't stepped out of my comfort zone.
"The cultural experience of that immersion was gift enough, but the lessons I learned from the UN and multi-lateral diplomacy made my summer unforgettable."
Before going to Geneva, O'Keefe knew only that she'd be working with delegates from New York and Washington D.C. to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) meetings. "I thought I'd be doing menial tasks like photocopying," she said. "That went out the window immediately. By the end of the first week, I was being sent to meetings at the UN by myself to take notes and type up summaries for people in my office. I worked 9-10-hour days, 3-6 hours of that at the UN.
"I learned that I am naive and very uniformed. I knew perhaps half of the history of a country or half of what was going on. You read in the newspaper about a conflict somewhere, and it doesn't seem real, but being at the UN puts faces on countries. You hear from representatives and NGOs how their country is struggling with the AIDS epidemic or trying to have sustainable development.
"The moment that stands out most for me is not being able to work directly with the ambassador to ECOSOC or hearing Kofi Annan speaking, which were amazing, but a casual conversation I had with one of my bosses. She said that whenever things get heated in a negotiating room and countries are screaming at each other, she's happy-because as long as they're doing that, they're not at war. She says to herself, 'Yell all you want. Get all of your frustration out here.'
"I am considering going into a job in the government, because it is now people to me, not just a structure." Sarah Kwon '04, an ARS Scholar from Illinois, worked last summer with the Alliance of Community Health Plans in Washington, D.C., a small trade association of non-profit HMOs whose work consists mainly of policy analysis and lobbying.
"It was an advantage to work for a small organization; they gave me very substantial duties," said Kwon, who is majoring in sociology and minoring in economics. "I worked primarily with the senior vice president of government relations and the lawyer, doing policy analysis and was able to observe the lobbying process firsthand as well. We concentrated on the Medicare Bill, splitting up to attend hearings of the versions in the House and the Senate. We'd identify provisions that were relevant to our health plans, analyze the implications, and then formulate recommendations to use for our health plans as lobbying strategies.
"I learned things about the policy-making process and the inner workings of Washington that I never could have in a classroom. I was able to apply the critical and analytical skills I've learned here at Bryn Mawr to what I was doing, even though it was not something that I had much experience with previously. I was also able to make a lot of useful connections for potential job opportunities.
"Every time I would go to the Hill or meetings with my boss, she would introduce me, saying 'this is our intern from Bryn Mawr.' And people would always say, 'Wow, Bryn Mawr!' a reaction I'm not used to coming from the Midwest, where people don't usually know about it. It was wonderful to see people had such esteem for Bryn Mawr because of its reputation.
"On one occasion, I accompanied my boss to a meeting with several highly ranked officials of the Senate Finance Committee. As we were leaving, she announced to the entire group, 'If you ever get the opportunity to hire someone from Bryn Mawr, just take it.' That was one of the highlights of my summer!"
After graduation, Kwon plans to return to Washington to work for a couple of years, most likely doing research in health policy for a government agency or a non-profit organization. After that, she plans to go to law school.
For more information about giving opportunities for summer internships, please contact Chief Advancement Officer Marc Diamond (mdiamond@ brynmawr.edu or 610-526-5159), or Director of Development Martha Dean (firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-526-5121).
Return to Spring 2004 highlights
Return to Spring 2004 highlights