Set up your summer: Paid WU internships that provide useful skills, experience

Caleb Liu | Contributing Writer

It’s certainly a stressful time of year. You have to deal with midterms, the ever-depressing winter weather, the whirlwind election cycle and, to top it all off, now everyone is telling you that you should probably get a job this summer.

Photo by Grace Bruton

Thankfully, many Washington University departments offer paid summer internships in a variety of disciplines. The opportunities listed below are not exhaustive of all that Wash. U. offers, but they represent some of the most interesting and comprehensive programs.

For the environmentally conscious

The Office of Sustainability offers two different opportunities: the ability to work with staff from the Office of Sustainability itself or to work with organizations based in St. Louis in the Environmental Studies Impact Program.

In the former, students divvy up into teams and work on project-based assignments, ranging from methods of waste disposal to alternative methods of transportation to the legal side of environmental affairs.

Interested students can also apply to be an Environmental Studies Impact Intern, which focuses on applying skills from the classroom to making a community impact on St. Louis organizations. These can vary from environmental organizations, social justice groups and businesses. Past interns have staffed events, visited the offices of politicians, worked in community gardens and researched and benchmarked buildings for energy usage.

“There are things that we can learn in the classroom about environmental issues and how we can address them, but when students actually work with an organization, they can learn things that you can only learn through direct experience,” Program Director Carolyn Cosgrove Payne said. “Like how to navigate office politics, or how to coordinate a partnership with stakeholders.”

The deadline for the Office of Sustainability internship program is Feb. 16, while the Environmental Studies Impact Internship application is due March 30. Information regarding hours and pay can be found on the Office of Sustainability website.

For those interested in communications

Summer interns for the Office of Public Affairs take part in a variety of tasks, including writing news and feature pieces, conducting research and planning events.

“…the tasks and projects we assign to our interns are very much what we would assign to anyone else in our department,” Director of Digital Content Strategy Ria Sharon said.

Interns develop a number of skills, including written communication, project management and a comprehensive perspective and understanding of the public relations, marketing and communications fields. If interested, apply on CareerLink by May 25.

For those who want to engage with St. Louis

The Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement offers two internship summer programs, the Goldman Fellows Program and the Arts as Civic Engagement Program.

10 students are selected as Goldman Fellows each summer. While working for local nonprofit and community organizations, they also take part in professional development, seminars and peer-to-peer mentoring. Every other week, there are immersions in St. Louis, where interns hear from residents of local neighborhoods and speak to local leaders.

The Arts as Civic Engagement Program selects three undergraduate students to work as staff members at regional arts organizations. This program helps students develop civic leadership skills through art.

“During the school year, people stay in Clayton, U-City, and these programs give you access to St. Louis,” Associate Director and Chief of Staff of the Gephardt Institute Shruti Desai said about the two programs. “And St. Louis in the summer is so much fun… A lot of students graduate here without understanding how cool the City of St. Louis is.”

The Goldman Fellows Program will be accepting applications through Feb. 14, while the deadline for the Arts as Civic Engagement Program is March 30. More information can be found on the Gephardt Institute website.

For those who want to foster a more vibrant WU community

Last, but certainly not least, the Undergraduate Admissions Office offers a comprehensive summer internship program. Each of the 10 interns has a set of core responsibilities, which include leading campus tours and interviewing prospective students. Additionally, each intern is paired with one of the teams in the office, such as Recruitment or Financial Aid to complete project-based work.

“We have a robust training program [for] students who are willing to jump in and do anything at a moment’s notice,” Senior Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions Tori Neason said. “As much as we plan, whenever you’re dealing with customer service and event planning, you have to be ready for any contingency.”

More information is posted on the Undergraduate Admissions website, and applications are due Feb. 20.

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