The Brown Semester Internship Program — originally called the BE Brown program — completed its pilot run last semester. The program, which was announced by the University last spring, enables Brown students to spend a semester away from Providence through a six-month immersive research or entrepreneurship experience, The Herald previously reported.
The pilot program offered six students the opportunity to pursue internship experiences — four in Berlin and two through the “Campaigns and Social Change” opportunity, wrote Assistant Director of Experiential Programs Learning Kelly Watts and Senior Associate Dean of the College for Co-Curricular and Experiential Learning Betsy Shimberg in an email to The Herald. Watts and Shimberg also shared changes that will be implemented for the program in future semesters.
In addition to its new name, the Brown Semester Internship Program will operate as a semester-long opportunity rather than beginning in the summer, Watts and Shimberg wrote. The program will expand to Los Angeles and Dublin — in addition to existing opportunities in Boston and Berlin — and will be offered in both the fall and spring semesters. Students will also have the opportunity to “source their own internship opportunity in any location beyond these four sites” through the Open Campus option, they added.
According to Watts and Shimberg, the Brown Semester Internship Program “provides an opportunity to actively engage with a local community through internships while staying enrolled and making progress towards degree completion.” In addition to taking courses at the University during the program, students engage in a part-time internship.
“Students are building relationships with co-workers, as well as developing and strengthening professional skills in a location outside of Providence,” they wrote.
“Students have shared gratitude for the opportunity to experience an internship while enrolled at Brown as part of a cohort that is supported by Brown faculty and staff,” Watts and Shimberg wrote. The students appreciated “gaining hands-on experience and confirming their desire to continue to pursue a professional field or learning that they want to pivot directions,” they added.
Two students spoke with The Herald about their experiences participating in the program last semester.
Dylan Abel ’24 worked with an ethnomusicologist researcher at the Humboldt University of Berlin to sort through radio tapes that had been found in the city’s former ethnological museum.
“I had a wonderful experience,” he said. “It was a great team of people, (I) got to meet some amazing ethnomusicologists and it was a very positive experience overall.”
Abel also appreciated the opportunity to take classes in Berlin while participating in the program and took a course that studied monuments in the city. “A lot of my learning in that course was not in the classroom, but it was in the city itself,” he said.
Jazz Carlson ’25 spent the semester working for Organize New Hampshire, a Democratic voting organization. “I was a campus organizer, which meant I was working specifically at Dartmouth,” Carlson said. “My job was to make sure that students (on campus) had a plan to vote.”
Carlson explained that the University was not able to directly provide support in finding a partisan internship opportunity. “Because (I) was working in the realm of politics, and particularly partisan politics, they weren’t able to help me find a job,” he said. “They could give me advice … to build those connections, but they couldn’t explicitly be partisan.”
But Carlson said the courses he took during the program helped him reflect on the specific skills he was developing through the internship. He was able to reflect on and strengthen “relevant skills … like conflict resolution and how to communicate in a group.”
Shimberg and Watts also shared with The Herald some of the challenges of attracting students to the program.
“Some students, while interested in the program, ended up not participating because they did not want to be away from campus after the isolation from the pandemic,” they wrote. Other students were deterred by the length of the program, which stretched from the summer through the fall semester, they added.
Despite being far from College Hill, Abel and Carlson said that they did not feel too isolated from Brown during the experience.
“I always felt supported and seen. I thought that it was managed very well. I thought there was a great group in Berlin handling our needs,” Abel said.
“I really loved the program,” Carlson said. “I actually felt like they helped me stay connected to Brown … it felt nice to know that I could maintain my connections.”