Dodge Greenley ’11 is spending his summer in Cairo, Egypt, working at an art gallery. Kelsey Picken ’10 is interning at the Grinnell Historical Museum and living in Grinnell for the summer. Their experiences might not seem to have much in common, but both were made possible by the Career Development Office’s internship program.
Grinnell offers both credit and funding for internships. A CDO survey of 25 peer institutions found 11 provide funding for internships, and 10 provide credit. The Grinnell internship program allows students to apply for credit and/or funding for qualified internships. (Funding is available only for unpaid positions.) For many students, funding gives them the freedom to spend the summer pursuing academic and vocational interests, rather than less satisfying work.
Greenley, in Cairo, is interested in art and Arabic. At the Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art, he is researching the different artists who have appeared at the gallery. He says the funding from the CDO made his internship possible.
“I have good friends who go to other comparable small liberal arts schools without similar internship grants, and they’re trapped … not having the money to move out of our hometown and live on their own, but are unable to get a job or internship in commuting distance from their parents’ houses,” Greenley wrote in an e-mail from Cairo. “I would be in the same situation without my stipend.”
To receive funding, a student must apply to one of the 17 alumni-endowed or CDO grant programs. Each program has its own criteria for funding an internship, such as the Noun Program, which supports internships in the field of women’s studies. The CDO also offers “GRINNELLINK” programs, in which students are connected to alumni who are working a in a field of interest.
Mike Caldwell, assistant director of career development for internships, says the diverse grant opportunities help the internship program reflect the goals of the College.
“Really, a strong internship program complements a liberal arts program,” Caldwell says. “It’s not just focused [on one area], and it’s not just trying to funnel students into one career field.” Caldwell adds that the range of grant programs and GRINNELLINK opportunities allow students to complete internships in a varied range of fields, from applied technology to human rights.
Picken has been given free rein at the Grinnell Historical Museum to take on whatever projects she chooses. She organized a float for the Fourth of July Parade and is also working on a program to reach out to college students. She says her internship has helped her think more about her future beyond Grinnell.
“Because of the variety of tasks I am doing at the museum, it’s allowed me to focus more on what kind of [graduate] program I am looking for, because the grad schools for museum studies are so varied,” she says. “… Now I definitely have a better idea of what I will pursue.” Pickens says she plans to continue in the museum studies.
Greenley says his internship has let him move beyond Grinnell to make the connections he needs to succeed after graduation.
“Interning is so key in networking,” Greenley says. “I now have a huge network of people — a lot of whom are now friends — that literally live all around the world [who] I can access for professional or personal help.”