Sept. 19, 2006 -- For Rebecca Elliot, a University of Virginia anthropology major, a summer internship with the Foreign Service Institute was an ideal way for her to learn about U.S. foreign policy and to get a sense of what a career in government might be like.
“This was the most enriching and challenging summer of my life,” said Elliott, who produced a 42-page self-study guide on Southern Africa to be used by U.S. government personnel. “I can’t say that I’m completely sure what I want to do after college, but this internship was a rare opportunity to acquire a depth of understanding and to hear honest appraisals of what is, to me, a very promising career track.”
Matthew Burnham, a systems engineering major, had a vastly different internship experience, joining 27 other students on an eight-week cross-country bicycle trip that included stops at four locations to work with local Habitat for Humanity projects. The internship was with Bike and Build.
“Chiefly, my motivation to serve humanity was profoundly deepened by experiencing both the generosity of our hosts and the impact we made on the lives of the people we, in turn, served,” said Burnham of his experience.
Elliott and Burham were among 15 University of Virginia students who received $2,500 grants from the University’s Parents Program designed to support students who choose to participate in unpaid public service internships. Established in 2005, the Parents Program Internship Grants helped students to participate in program throughout the world.
The range of internships pursued by the students this summer was wide. For instance, English major Danya Atiyeh was with the U.S. Department of Justice and International Affairs in Washington; foreign affairs major Chantal Boucher was with UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child in Geneva, Switzerland; and German and Commerce major Maya Kumazawa was at the Ministry of Economics, State of Hessen, in Wiesbaden, Germany. While many internships provide stipends for participants, most nonprofits cannot afford to pay their interns, noted James L. McBride, executive director of University Career Services. That can mean that students who are interested in working with nonprofit groups are lured away by their need for summer income.
“We saw this program as an opportunity to build on the University’s goal of making public service opportunities for students a point of special emphasis,” McBride said
Elliot said that the Parents Program grant made all the difference in her ability to get the most out of her internship.
“Washington is an expensive city, and many of my colleagues went into debt to participate in this internship,” she said. “I was saved this kind of stress because I had a grant to sustain me. I didn’t have to get another part time job, which freed me up to appreciate more of D.C. — its museums, monuments, concerts, and so forth.”
Patricia M. Lampkin, vice president and chief student affairs officer, calls the Parents Program Grants “a natural combination of our strengths.”
“”U.Va. has always been strong in community service and nonprofit,” she said. “This is why we are always one of the top schools for the Peace Corps and Teach for America.”
The stipends are awarded on a competitive basis with a faculty and staff committee selecting students based on the quality of the applicant’s application, resume and essays.
Tracy Barry-Austin, a sociology major whose internship is with Family Connections in Orange, N.J., where she worked with clinicians who go into pre-schools and work with at risk children, expressed a popular sentiment among those who are participating in the program when she wrote in an online journal about the experience that “”this internship is perfect for me because this is exactly what I am working towards doing in my future.””
Lampkin noted that the availability of internship opportunities of all varieties has become a major issue on college campuses.
“The job market has changed,” Lampkin said. “”Student internships are a more common and greater part of the job recruitment process. We want to make it more affordable for all students.”
2006 Parent Program Interns
• Danya Atiyeh: English major (2008). Interning with the U.S. Department of Justice & International Affairs in Washington
• Ava Baker: History major (2007). Interning with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia in Washington
• Tracy Barry-Austin: Sociology major (2007). Interning with Family Connections in Orange, N.J.
• Chantal Boucher: Foreign Affairs major (2007). Interning with UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child in Geneva, Switzerland
• Isabelle Brantley: American Studies major (2007). Interning at the East Harlem School in New York
• Matthew Burnham: Systems Engineering major (2008). Interning with Bike and Build, traveling from Jacksonville, Fla., to San Francisco
• Shirley Datu: Psychology and African American Studies major (2007). Interning with Alternative Spring Break in Ghana, West Africa
• Nanda Davis: Philosophy major (2008). Interning with the Sexual Assault Resource Agency and Planned Parenthood in Charlottesville, Va.
• Rebecca Elliot: Anthropology major (2007). Interning with the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Va.
• Dhruv Kapadia: Computer Engineering major (2007). Interning with the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington
• Maya Kumazawa: German and Commerce major (2008). Interning with the Ministry of Economics, State of Hessen, in Wiesbaden, Germany
• Anna Mapes: Nursing School (2007). Interning with ProPeru in Urubamba, Peru
• Sarah Perkins: American Studies major (2007). Interning with the Core Knowledge Foundation in Charlottesville, Va.
• Julia Treschel: History major (2007). Interning with the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington
• Michael Wain: Foreign Affairs major (2007). Interning with the National Defense University in Washington