From a unique program here in Bloomington-Normal, to urban and even international settings, IWU students can choose from an array of internship opportunities—including the Community Partnership Program (CPP), Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) Chicago Program, universities in Washington, D.C. and affiliations with study abroad programs.
Community Partnership Program
Illinois Wesleyan’s Action Research Center (ARC) and State Farm offer an exclusive and collaborative internship program to students. A summer program, the CPP employs a 3-2-1 format: participants spend three days a week working at State Farm, two days with a community partner organization, and one night meeting with the ARC.
According to ARC’s website, “This 3-2-1 experience gives students a look at how for-profit, non-profit and higher education work together in Bloomington-Normal.”
Each year, an average of 50 to 60 students apply for the internship, competing for approximately ten available positions. The interns work within their areas of interest at State Farm and a local nonprofit for a tailored experience.
As a part of the 2014 CPP group, accounting major Khurram Ghayur ‘16 worked in the financial shared services sector of the financial operations department at State Farm. He also worked with the Bloomington-Normal YMCA, where his projects included applying for a grant for the YMCA’s New Generation Youth Soccer League.
Ghayur said the most rewarding aspect of the program was the connections and relationships he made throughout the summer. “The opportunity to work on an array of projects within various areas allowed me to develop a network of business professionals, community leaders and fellow college students that will last much longer than my summer internship experience,” he said.
Urban Programs in Chicago or Washington, D.C.
For those who wish to explore an urban environment during their academic career, IWU students can apply to affiliate programs in Chicago and Washington, D.C.
“Our affiliated domestic partnerships provide students with easy access to quality learning opportunities and add value to their education,” said Laurie Diekhoff, assistant director and internship coordinator at the Hart Career Center.
The ACM Chicago Program invites students to spend their fall or spring semester living, interning and learning in Chicago. Students can concentrate in arts, entrepreneurship or urban studies, and participate in four key components: a local internship, seminars, a course about the city, and an independent study project.
Katie Rose Brosnan ’13, who focused on urban studies as a Fall 2011 ACM Chicago student, is now campus outreach coordinator for ACM Chicago. She attended the 2014 IWU Internship Fair to teach interested students about the unique program, for which there are still multiple openings for the spring semester.
Brosnan, who said she learned about the ACM Chicago Program during her freshman year, was drawn to the combination of the internship and classes related to her area of interest.
“I was really interested in issues of social justice, but students who are interested in the arts and entrepreneurship get to meet with practitioners and actually experience it,” she said.
In the nation’s culturally and politically vibrant capital, aspiring public officials, journalists and policy makers can enhance their college experiences.
Offered year round to students, the Semester in Washington, D.C. Program with Georgetown University offers an innovative program that blends classroom learning and hands-on experience. Participants can pursue research and internship opportunities with federal agencies, law firms, news organizations, nonprofits and public relations agencies.
Though only a few Illinois Wesleyan students typically participate in the Washington, D.C. programs each year, “the students that do spend a semester in Washington, D.C. find it a great networking and learning opportunity,” Diekhoff said.
Political science major Anne Kehler ’15 and political science and business administration double major Brexton Isaacs ’15 spent the spring of 2014 as participants of the Georgetown program, where they both studied politics and public policy and interned with local organizations.
Bridging students from over 200 U.S. colleges and universities and 40 international institutes of higher education, American University’s Washington Semester Program offers students real-world experience and expert insights while helping them make connections with leaders in Washington, D.C. Political science major Kevin Gordon ’16 spent the spring of 2014 with this program, which combines experimental learning with academic seminars and internships.
With all programs, students have the opportunity to grow and gain direction. “The program prepared me to go back to my campus as a far more engaged and aware student, which has crossed over into all parts of my life,” Brosnan said.
Numerous students have pursued internship and research opportunities while studying abroad with programs through School for International Training (SIT) Study Abroad and Institute for the International Education of Students (IES)—and they are not alone. “Nationally the number of students participating in internships or some other practical experience is up: the most recent Open Doors survey showed that seven percent of students participating (about 20,600 students),” said Stacey Shimizu, director of the International Office.
According to Shimizu, the upward trend is true at IWU as well. “More and more students are certainly talking with me about participating in some sort of hands-on experience while abroad,” she said.
Environmental studies major Amanda King ’15 spent a semester studying and interning in Australia. With her study abroad program, which allowed her to choose to participate in an internship, research opportunity, or other practical work experience, King worked as a community gardens intern with Cultivating Community—an Australian nonprofit that provides access to healthy food for people living in public housing.
According to King, her experiences blending a community aspect with gardening during her internship inspired her to implement similar techniques both in her hometown and during her work as garden volunteer development intern at Illinois Wesleyan’s Peace Garden.
“For students who do an internship abroad, they get a double benefit: practical experience, coupled with the benefits that we know come from deep engagement with another culture, like problem-solving, intercultural communication skills and adaptability,” Shimizu said.
Students who wish to learn more about unique internship programs can utilize the Action Research Center, Career Center, International Office and academic department chairs to seek out opportunities and discover which may be the best fit.