Women’s Philanthropy Council Internship Awards: A Ripple Effect of Real-World Learning

The School of Human Ecology is grateful that the Women’s Philanthropy Council has chosen to support the school’s internship scholarship program this year! WPC will be providing critical resources, allowing students to have career-building experiences in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.

The community and nonprofit leadership (CNPL) major cultivates caring professionals to lead in the thriving nonprofit sector. The program specifically fosters an appreciation of philanthropy that aligns with the goals of the Women’s Philanthropy Council. To prepare students for an increasingly competitive job market, the School of Human Ecology requires students in all majors to complete an internship. This real-world experience prepares students to be career ready through valuable professional experience, practice of soft skills and networking, and exploration of career paths within their field of study.

Unfortunately, not every student has access to the same opportunities. Many nonprofit organizations cannot afford to pay their interns. Some students must turn down great opportunities because they cannot afford to take an unpaid internship. More than 40 percent of student internships in 2020 were unpaid, at a time when many students’ sources of income were also greatly decreased. Students of color and first-generation students, as well as those pursuing careers in nonprofits or social service sectors, are disproportionately affected by this opportunity gap.

Providing support for all students to have high-impact internship opportunities is one of Dean Soyeon Shim’s top priorities. In 2017, the school established the School of Human Ecology Internship Fund, which, thanks to donors’ generous gifts, has allowed the school to award internship scholarships and stipends to selected students. Since the program’s inception, the school has been able to fund 12 percent of unpaid internships, an average of 14 students per year.

Some past recipients, including a CNPL senior and former UW women’s crew team member, completed a global service internship with HOPE Worldwide thanks to a summer intern scholarship. CNPL student Doniqua Smith x’23 completed her summer internship at the Goodman Community Center in Madison. And new CNPL graduate Iris Schira ’21 completed her internship focused on COVID-19 relief with a Madison-based nonprofit, Ceiba, which works in environmental sustainability in Ecuador. Each reported that their experience was transformative in their understanding of the nonprofit sector and would not have been possible without financial support.

The Women’s Philanthropy Council Internship Awards will provide valuable support to expand the impact of our internship scholarship program. This will give more students the ability to pursue their career goals in the nonprofit sector and be better prepared to be effective practitioners in the years to come. Preference will be given to students majoring in community and nonprofit leadership, but eligibility will also include students in other human ecology majors who are completing a qualified internship with a nonprofit organization.

Your support will have a ripple effect. You will be providing nonprofit and social service organizations the opportunity to benefit from these talented students. Organizations like the YWCA, the Playing Field (a day care center that serves homeless children), and the Boys and Girls Club have reported that interns have helped them enhance their effectiveness as well as their impact.

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