Thanks to increased funding, 82 Whitman students are applying their critical thinking skills to a wide range of internships all across the country, from organic gardening in Seattle and fact-checking for San Francisco-based publication McSweeney’s, to studying brain chemistry in New York City. This cohort represents a significant uptick in numbers from last year.
“There was an enormous increase this year in the number of internship grants the college was able to offer,” said Noah Leavitt, assistant dean for student engagement. “The Parents Leadership Committee has put a tremendous amount of energy into raising money for this valuable and popular program.”
The Whitman Internship Grant (formerly known as the Parents Internship Grant), the Parents Leadership Committee and the David Stevens Internship Endowment provided funding. The Student Engagement Center organized the internships. Increased access to experiential learning opportunities like these is a key goal of the Now Is the Time campaign.
Students who receive the grants work 20 hours per week for 10 weeks during the summer and earn stipends of $2,300, an increase of $200 per student since last year. First-year students were also eligible to apply for the first time this year, in addition to sophomores and juniors.
“Summer internships provide a remarkable opportunity for students to take what they are learning in the classroom and use it in practical ways,” Leavitt said. “It’s putting the liberal arts into an applied context. Whitman students are already innovative and ambitious, so they have a very high likelihood of success when they pursue their passions and turn them into careers.”
Bella Zarate ’14 is spending her summer with the Yakima Valley Community Foundation. She said her internship has given her the chance to apply her critical thinking skills in the real world and has provided an inside look at the ins and outs of working for a non-profit.
“I’ve been able to expand my knowledge in an environment in which I may be working in the future,” she said. “A lot of students have to get jobs over the summer to save money for school, and most internships are unpaid. The funding from Whitman gives students who need the money for school the opportunity to explore their areas of interest.”