Since it began in 2010, the Arts and Letters Summer Internship Program (ALSIP) has awarded over $600,000 in funding to more than 250 students interning across the country and around the world.
Students in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters use internships to gain experience and explore career options in a real-world environment—anywhere from C-SPAN in Washington, D.C., to a product design firm in New York City, to a nonprofit organization in Cape Town, South Africa.
The grant program, administered by The Career Center, provides Arts and Letters students with funding to offset travel and cost-of-living expenses for paid and unpaid internships in any industry and geographic location.
“Employers today all but expect students to have engaged in some real-world opportunities like internships prior to hiring them for full-time employment,” said LoriAnn Edinborough, a career experiential program manager at The Career Center. “But the challenge for many students is that these internships are often unpaid—or are paid, but in an area with a high cost of living—forcing them to decide between the value of the experience and whether they can afford to participate.
“The Arts and Letters Summer Internship eases the financial burden of participating. Students know they have the funds to help pay for housing, food, and transportation to and from the internship.”
Developing new products
Working as a product development intern in OXO’s food storage product division, Lauterbach did product testing, researched competitors, and analyzed customers’ product reviews. She even gave presentations of her own ideas for new products that would fit well with OXO’s brand.
The internship was a perfect fit, she said.
“It showed me all of the different things that go into getting a product on the shelf,” she said. “So many people—from project managers to engineers are involved in the design process. And they’re very intentional with every decision they make about a product. It was really cool to see how that works. As a designer, it makes you consider those aspects more.”
And while moving to New York City by herself was intimidating at first, Lauterbach said she’s incredibly glad she did it.
“I’d encourage everyone to take that risk,” she said. “This is exactly what I wanted to do, and to be able to do it—even though it wasn’t paid—was amazing.”
Working behind the scenes
This summer, senior Daniel DeToro worked behind the scenes as a television programming intern with C-SPAN in Washington, D.C.
DeToro watched and wrote reviews of new episodes so that the network could determine when and if to air them. He also conducted research on upcoming guests and found supplementary materials such as quotes, photos, and video clips to include in the programs.
“I got to do a lot of things, and it was great working with people who knew so much and who were so willing to answer my questions,” he said.
Working for C-SPAN would not have been possible without ALSIP funding, DeToro said. And while he doesn’t plan to pursue a career in the media industry, the experience was a valuable opportunity to see what the working world is like.
“Learning how to interact in a workplace is great experience,” he said. “Seeing those relationships and learning how to convey what you think is incredibly important.”
Exploring the world of nonprofits
Meghan Santella (right) with students she tutored in South Africa
Junior Meghan Santella interned with the South African Education and Environment Project, a nonprofit offering educational opportunities to neglected youth.
In Cape Town, she tutored 8th- and 9th-grade students in English and life skills, helped with fundraising, and helped write a manual on child protection to be distributed to local schools.
“The exciting realization I had with this internship is that I can truly end up anywhere in the world,” Santella said. “It allowed me to explore the nonprofit sector and learn about the behind-the-scenes work nonprofits do, as well as the hands-on community interaction that is so important.”
The experience also helped her develop an idea for a senior thesis project and define her future career path.
“This summer taught me that I am passionate about working with and for people in disadvantaged communities in our own country and around the world,” she said. “I’m not exactly sure where my career will take me, but this internship opportunity definitely reassured me that I am on the right track.”