Unique Opportunities Allow Students to Intern in Urban or International Settings
Oct. 15, 2014
From a unique program in Bloomington-Normal to urban and even international settings,
Illinois Wesleyan students can choose from an array of internship opportunities. Some
of these opportunities include the Community Partnership Program (CPP), Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) Chicago Program, affiliations with
universities in Washington, D.C. and study abroad programs.
Community Partnership Program
The Community Partnership Program is the only internship of its kind in the country
because of its unique format. State Farm hires Illinois Wesleyan students as fulltime
interns in the summer, with participants working three days per week at State Farm.
Illinois Wesleyan’s Action Research Center (ARC) places student participants with a community partner organization two days
per week, and one night per week they meet with ARC to learn about community development
and nonprofit infrastructure. This 3-2-1 experience gives students a look at how for-profit
organizations, nonprofits and higher education work together in Bloomington-Normal.
Each year, an average of 50 to 60 students apply for the internships, competing for
approximately 10 available positions. The interns work within their areas of interest
at State Farm and at a local nonprofit for a tailored experience.
As a part of the 2014 CPP group, accounting major Khurram Ghayur ’16 (Mount Pleasant,
Iowa) 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.
For Ghayur, the connections and relationships he made throughout the summer were the
most rewarding aspects of the program. “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 allows students to spend the fall or spring semester living, interning and
learning in Chicago. Concentrations are offered in arts, entrepreneurship or urban
studies, and students 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 an ACM Chicago student in
2011, is now working as the campus outreach coordinator for ACM Chicago. She said
multiple openings remain for the spring 2015 semester.
Brosnan, who said she learned about the ACM Chicago Program during her first year
at Illinois Wesleyan, was drawn to its combination of internship opportunities 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 or entrepreneurship get to meet with practitioners and actually experience
it,” she said.
In the nation’s capital, aspiring public officials, journalists and policy makers
can enhance their college experiences through programs at Georgetown or American University.
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.
Political science major Anne Kehler ’15 (Denver, Colo.) and political science and
business administration double major Brexton Isaacs ’15 (Byron, Ill.) spent the spring
of 2014 as participants of the Georgetown program, where they both studied politics
and public policy and interned with local organizations.
Illinois Wesleyan is one of more than 200 U.S. colleges and universities and 40 international
institutes of higher education to partner with American University’s Washington Semester
Program. This opportunity 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 (Tinley Park, Ill.) spent the spring of 2014 in this program,
which combines experimental learning with academic seminars and internships.
Students who participate in these and other programs report significant learning experiences
in and out of the classroom. “The (ACM Chicago) 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 seven percent of students participating,”
said Stacey Shimizu, director of the International Office.
According to Shimizu, the upward trend is true at Illinois Wesleyan as well. “More
and more students are certainly talking with me about participating in some sort of
hands-on experience while abroad,” she said.
One of those students, environmental studies major Amanda King ’15 (Peoria, Ill.)
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 an intern at Illinois Wesleyan’s Peace Garden.
“For students who do an internship or some other hands-on work 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.