This summer I interned at Tacoma Community House as part of the Summer Immersion Internship Program. Tacoma Community House is a nonprofit organization that provides programs and services focused on education, employment, immigration, and advocacy. I'm from South Tacoma and one of the university's Access Scholars, so I was happy to join an organization focused on education in some of the more marginalized communities in the city.
At Tacoma Community House I worked in marketing and fundraising, helping with two big projects: Flavor, a fundraiser where local restaurants donate a portion of their sales to support programming for immigrants and refugees, and an $8 million capital campaign for a new building. I did research on which corporations have supported Tacoma Community House in the past and which ones might want to do so in the future.
I also interviewed English-language and citizenship class students about their experiences as immigrants as part of Immigrant Heritage Month. There was even a student who wanted to teach English after she became proficient so that she could return the help she received. It's that kind of cyclic contribution that made me choose Tacoma Community House.
Toward the end of my internship, I played a role in hiring a professional staff member. I reviewed resumes, followed up with applicants, and even got to participate in the interview process. It pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I got to leave a lasting impact on Tacoma Community House.
This was my first off-campus job, and the work was challenging. Learning that I could contribute in a meaningful way boosted my self-esteem and gave me confidence for my next job.
Most important, I now know that I want to work in an education-related nonprofit. I'm confident that what I'm learning in class will translate to a career that I'll be passionate about.
Austin Colburn '18
Sociology and Anthropology
Internships are a valuable part of career preparation, but not every student can afford to participate in an unpaid internship. The Summer Immersion Internship Program, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Experiential Learning Grant, the Sturm Family Foundation, and contributions to the Puget Sound Alumni, Parents, and Friends Funds, supports talented Puget Sound students who otherwise may not be able to take an unpaid internship. Twelve local nonprofit organizations hosted a group of 19 students for 10 weeks over the summer. Interns worked at least 30 hours each week and engaged in weekly educational seminars to connect their work experience with their academic disciplines. Students also engaged in ongoing reflection and self-assessment with alumni mentors, culminating in a final presentation at a campus symposium in September. For their work, students received a $3,000 fellowship and free campus housing.
Above: Austin reflects on his internship experience at the Summer Immersion Internship Symposium