Internships have become particularly important for students and the organizations offering them include nearly every field, from the glamorous world of entertainment to the pressure cooker of Wall Street. For nonprofits and public service institutions, interns are critical in helping them accomplish their missions. The Rockefeller Center's Civic Skills Training program focuses specifically on these institutions, helping interns make maximum use of their learning experiences while making a difference in people's lives.
The program, offered three times a year, brings a group of 10 to 15 students to Washington, D.C. for five days prior to the fall, spring and summer terms.
Under the leadership of Rockefeller Center Associate Director Matthew Dunne, they undergo training in networking, marketing, organization, public speaking, presentation and project management. Karen Liot Hill, who helps coordinate the program, explained that one of its core principles is teaching the interconnectedness of the public service world. She described a training exercise in which students research and diagram connections between the organizations for which they will intern.
Each student must also design and execute a project that can be completed during the internship and be of lasting value to the organizations the students are serving.
Rosalie Hughes '07 completed the training program before spending two months in Ambato, Ecuador, where she worked for an organization dedicated to educating and serving at-risk children. She initiated an after-school knitting program with the help of knitter Hector Quisapincha, the school's kitchen helper. Hughes maintains contact with school officials in Ambato and has arranged for the project to receive continued support.
"The training makes serious demands on the students," said Hill, "and they've met and exceeded the high expectations set for them."
Civic Skills Training received funding from the Surdna Foundation, which has since been renewed and supplemented by the Rockefeller Center. Conceived in 2003, it got off the ground in 2004 with the support of Andrew Samwick, Director of the Rockefeller Center and Professor of Economics. Samwick suggested that the program be moved to Washington, D.C., where so many of the nation's public service internships are located. This allowed for meetings with Congressional and nonprofit leaders. Civic Skills Training is a part of the College's Public Impact Initiative, a wide-ranging effort in which the Rockefeller Center plays a significant part, to "enhance the civic health of Dartmouth undergraduates and help prepare them for careers that will contribute to the public sector," said Samwick. And it's working.
What these students share is a new understanding of the interconnectedness of the world and the ability to use that understanding in service of the organizations that need it.
By GENEVIEVE HAAS
Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.
Last Updated: 5/30/08