Four students have been awarded Engage IU South Bend Internship Stipends to support their work in the Spring 2021 semester: Hannah Good, Rana Hamad, Colette Stitsworth, and Jean DeWinter.
“It’s like a little positive reinforcement,” said Hannah Good, a junior majoring in criminal justice. She is an intern this semester at the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s office and hopes that the variety of work she has been offered will help her when she applies to law schools toward her goal of becoming a prosecuting attorney herself.
“Having this experience firsthand—being able to witness trials, being able to see how the prosecutor or how the defense attorney interact with their clients and the system—I feel will benefit me in order to get to law school eventually because I’ll already have my foot in the door by the time I applied for law school,” Good said.
Since the Engage IUSB internships started awarding stipends in the summer of 2018, 35 students have received $1,600 to support their time at the nonprofit organizations. The number of student internship stipends awarded each semester range from three to eight and students with a wide variety of majors and interests have earned the awards.
The program, supported by IU South Bend Community Engagement, began as a way to help students gain the benefits of internships, said Dr. Gail McGuire, Director of Community Engagement and Professor of Sociology.
“We really needed a way to incentivize internships on this campus because we knew that internships would help students get jobs, put their academic skills into practice and boost their confidence,” McGuire said. “But there were a lot of students, particularly in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who weren’t doing internships in part because they weren’t paid. So many of our students couldn’t actually afford to do a 100- or 120-hour internship because that would mean them having to work less at their job and get paid less, so this was a way to incentivize internships.”
Good said that she didn’t expect to receive the stipend, but certainly appreciates it. “I think it’s beneficial for students who already have expenses like myself,” she said. “I think it helps alleviate some stress for students who have expenses for college, especially with the pandemic.”
In addition, because the stipends are only offered to students interning at non-profits, they support community partners who often can’t afford to pay interns, McGuire said. “We really saw it as a win-win way to invest in non-profit organizations in a way that also invests in our students.”
The students work at a variety of non-profits in the region, including AIDS Ministries, the Humane Society, Potawatomi Zoo, and Indiana Health Centers.
Rana Hamad is one of those interns working at Indiana Health Centers this spring. Hamad is a junior majoring in biology and hopes to become a medical doctor. In the internship, she gets to shadow the work of nearly every aspect of the clinic and help when possible. She thinks that the variety of work she’s seeing at the clinic—from pediatrics to women’s health and beyond—will help her when she needs to choose a specialty as a medical student.
“It’s like a dream internship for me,” Hamad said. “This is like me being able to do what I want ahead of time. And just getting the opportunity to do that was just, it was really cool to me.”
Because part of the reason she wants to go to medical school is to be a key player in equal healthcare for patients, Hamad noted that both the work and the staff culture at the clinic was important to her.
“They’re so understanding of things and they treat every patient the same. I’m working with one of the doctors there right now,” Hamad said. “We had a homeless woman come in and she treated the homeless woman exactly the same as she treated the woman that had private insurance. It just gives me like hope and faith in humanity. And it’s really interesting to see how like everybody here has that attitude.”
Colette Stitsworth is enjoying working with clients at Wolfson Press while gaining direct experience to demonstrate that she has the ability to succeed in a job after graduation. Stitsworth, a senior, is majoring in graphic design and in her internship, is creating the illustrations for chapter headings, cover art and other features for a graphic novel by Dr. Jeff Horwat, who teaches in the Raclin School of the Arts.
“I get to have the experience of working with a client,” Stitsworth said. “I’ll show him different examples of my work and he will kind of critique it and explain what they think I could change or what they like.”
That back-and-forth collaboration with clients, she said, is a key part of the work of a graphic designer. “I think that that’s super important for me because it kind of gets me prepared for working with other clients,” she said.
Stitsworth also works at Target to earn money for her expenses, so the $1,600 stipend was important to her, even though she likely would have found a way to work at Wolfson without it, because the experience has been so helpful to show future employers what she can do.
“It gives me a lot of good experience because then, if they (future job interviewers) have questions or concerns, I can show them,” she said. “I can say, ‘Hey, I’m actually working on a graphic novel that will hopefully be published around April.’”