How far can $3,000 go? For the University of Virginia students who receive the Parents Committee Internship Grant each year, that amount can help turn an opportunity to build a career in public service into a reality.
This summer, U.Va.’s Parents Committee awarded 16 grants to undergraduate students who secure unpaid, eight- to 10-week internships in areas of public service. Internship positions include work in public policy, economic development, education, health and civic engagement.
“Many U.Va. students want to pursue careers in nonprofit or public-service work, but sometimes the cost of college, or just life in general, makes taking an unpaid internship unreachable,” said Carrie Rudder, associate director for student services at University Career Services, who supervises the grant program. “We know employers are seeking out experienced students, and many of these students, who are so bright, can’t start building a career in public service without funding.”
Grants are available to rising third- and fourth-year undergraduate students at U.Va., regardless of academic field of study. A faculty and staff committee selects recipients based on the strength of their recommendations and essays.
The funds are intended for unpaid internships only, not summer research positions or formal placement programs requiring student payment to complete the internship.
University Career Services typically receives between 50 and 60 applications for 16 grant awards every year. The applicant pool, Rudder noted, is especially competitive.
“By nature, the kind of students who apply are already highly motivated people,” she said. “They’ve been involved in public service for years, have been committed to public service at U.Va. through Madison House, Jefferson Public Citizens and a wide variety of organizations. They’re double majors, have high GPAs … and they show a high amount of initiative because they’re applying in the first place.”
This summer’s grants went to students working in a variety of fields and locations, from Morven Farm outside Charlottesville to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China.
“This internship provided me with an opportunity to explore a new place and atmosphere where collaboration and creativity are a central component of daily operations,” said Zaina Natour, a rising fourth-year urban and environmental planning major in the School of Architecture who is interning at the Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, N.C.
“In terms of career goals, it was really enlightening to work in a kind of environment where they give you a lot of responsibility, but also free reign over how to complete assigned tasks. I had the pleasure of talking and engaging with people who interact directly with the work the organization produced, something I'd really like from my future jobs,” said Natour, who will complete her internship in August.
“U.Va students are incredibly bright, talented and motivated,” Rudder said. “We know the experiences these grants help provide are helping a lot of students get jobs of out school.”
Interns must complete a written evaluation of their completed internships highlighting their accomplishments, their personal growth and how the experience has affected their future career expectations. Their evaluations are then passed on to future students seeking internships in public service.
They also agree to keep an online journal throughout the course of their summer internship. The journals will be available on the Career Services website throughout the course of the summer.
This year’s Parents Grants recipients are:
- Zachary Blackburn, a fourth-year economics and foreign affairs major in the College, interning with the State Department’s Economic and Political Section in Riga, Latvia.
- Molly Cudahy, a third-year sociology major in the College, interning with the International Rescue Committee in Silver Spring, Md.
- Michele DeRieux, a third-year biomedical engineering major in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, interning with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
- Casey Duggan, a fourth-year leadership and public policy major in the Batten School for Leadership and Public Policy, interning with Patton Boggs in Washington, D.C.
- Isabel Greenberg, a third-year environmental sciences major in the College, interning with Morven Farm in Albemarle County.
- Helena Groves, a third-year anthropology major in the College, interning with the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton.
- Sam Gruber, a fourth-year foreign affairs and Chinese language and literature major in the College, interning with the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou, China.
- Shefali Hegde, a fourth-year cognitive science-neuroscience/biology major in the College, interning with the Community Health Program, Christian Medical College in Vellore, India.
- Sarah Hooper, a third-year biology and music major in the College, interning with the California Wildlife Center.
- Robert Koch, a third-year Chinese language and literature major in the College, interning with Original Life in Shanghai, China.
- Zaina Natour, a fourth-year urban and environmental planning major, interning with the Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, N.C.
- Anna Rollosson, a third-year English and environmental sciences major in the College of Arts & Sciences, interning with Shelby Farms Park Conservancy in Memphis, Tenn.
- Sarah Skinner, a fourth-year French major in the College and kinesiology major in the Curry School of Education, interning with American consulate in Lyon, France.
- Chelsea Stokes, a third-year political and social thought major in the College, interning with District of Columbia Public Schools.
- Edel Tessema, a third-year global development studies major in the College, interning with Appleseed in Washington, D.C.
- Will Warren, a fourth-year leadership and public policy major in the Batten School, interning with Urban Institute Metropolitan Housing and Communities Center in Washington, D.C.
To learn more about public service at U.Va., click here.
-- by Lauren Jones