Metro, News

Students stay in Providence over summer through University programs

Swearer Center initiatives expand local nonprofit partnerships to increase students’ engagement

By
Contributing Writer
Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Swearer Center for Public Service is partnering with over 100 local nonprofits that are looking to attract student interns over the summer — increasing the number of partner organizations affiliated with the Swearer Center fivefold over the past couple of years, said Director of Student Development at the Swearer Center Betsy Shimberg. The Swearer Center also assists students hoping to intern in Providence over the summer through the iProv Summer Fellowship Program, a program in conjunction with Careers and Life After Brown that awards 20 undergraduate students $3,500 stipends to pursue full-time summer internships with nonprofit organizations based in the greater Providence area.

“Swearer does a lot of work to generate these employer partnerships and then we sort of run an application process where students will apply to iProv,” said Director of CareerLAB Matthew Donato. “These are very popular internships.”

In addition to programs run through the Swearer Center, students who choose to stay in Providence can fund their summer through the BrownConnect LINK Award Program, which grants selected students $3,500 for domestic internships. Last year, 20 percent of LINK award recipients chose to intern in Providence,  Donato said.

Computer science students intent on spending the summer in Providence can also turn to Bears@Work, a program that connects computer science students to R.I. tech companies through a variety of internship opportunities.

Since the University has historically matched motivated students to local companies, demand for interns has burgeoned and companies work to entice  “talent to stay in the state long term,” Donato said. For students, Donato attributed the popularity of interning in Providence to access to campus facilities and the affordability of the city, among other explanations.

Students who stayed in Providence this summer enjoyed some of these perks, referencing positive experiences using their free access to Rhode Island Public Transit Authority to explore Newport Beach and Cranston, taking advantage of gym and library access and finding local spots like  Coffee Exchange, AS220, Xaco Taco, White Electric and a wealth of farmers markets that appear during the summer months.

Shell Yang ’19 developed software for Utilidata in downtown Providence through Bears@Work.  Yang said she developed a stronger connection to Providence through her experience living near campus.

Elana Hausknecht ’21 interned at Southside Community Land Trust over the summer with funding from iProv. She said that spending time in Providence after her first year helped her realize that as a student at the University, she has a responsibility to the greater Providence community. Hausknecht now is a head of Winter Break Providence, which allows students to spend the winter in the city.

Alexander Philips ’21, who received iProv funding to intern at the R.I. Department of State Elections, said his summer experience helped him figure out his career goals.

“As my first job in the public sector, I gained valuable experience working with the public on important civic issues,” he wrote in a reflection piece for the Swearer Center. “The internship made me consider pursuing a career serving the public in a governmental position.”

Director of the State Government Internship Program Bea Lanzi said she hopes to increase her on-campus presence, attracting students to work at the Statehouse.

Rose Lang-Maso ’20, who worked on Aaron Regunberg’s ’12 lieutenant governor campaign with a LINK award, urged students to engage in life outside of College Hill.

“We have a lot of institutional privilege here at Brown and a lot of resources, and I think we should be using those to sort of advocate for the folks in Providence in the ways they want to be advocated for, and the first step of that is to get off the Hill,” she said, adding that spending time at local establishments over the summer, in particular the coffee shop White Electric, allowed her to build a relationship with people outside of the University’s community.

Lang-Maso continued to work on Regunberg’s campaign into the academic year — an experience that highlighted the disconnect between her life at the University and the events happening in its surrounding areas, she said.

Last month, Lang-Maso left her office approximately three hours before a shooting nearby outside of the Providence Career and Technical Academy. “That’s when I really had this strong moment of okay, Brown’s really separated from things … that was a really stark example of that for me. Things happen beyond here that matter.”

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Rose Lang-Maso ’20 worked on Aaron Regunberg’s ’12 lieutenant governor campaign through iProv. In fact, she did so with a LINK award. The article also stated that Lang-Maso left her office approximately an hour and a half before a shooting nearby outside of the Providence Career and Technical Academy. In fact, she left her office around three hours before the shooting. The Herald regrets the errors.