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Kellogg Institute funds internship grants

Eva Binda | Thursday, October 5, 2006

Some students choose to relax on the beach over the summer, while others travel to distant locales for fun. Students participating in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies Summer Internships, however, spend their free months traveling both domestically and internationally to gain hands-on experience in businesses, government agencies, hospitals, policy institutes and other organizations. These students come from all different backgrounds and majors, but share an interest in gaining the skills to make a difference in a globalized world.

Junior Dmitri Martinez said he plans on applying for a Kellogg internship for the “opportunity to work as an undergraduate in an international setting”. Although not a Latin American studies major – for whom most of the internship is tailored – Martinez expressed a strong interest in Latin America.

Internship locations are as far as away as Peru, Uganda and Argentina and as near as Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis. The internships also vary in tasks from researching the reintegration of child soldiers in Ghana to working in hospitals in the Dominican Republic to exploring the U.S. export market in Argentina.

This wide spectrum allows students of all different majors to find something that sparks their interest, according to Holly Rivers, academic coordinator at the Kellogg Institute. Although most students come from the College of Arts and Letters, she said, there are opportunities for students interested in business, medicine and science. In the past, there have been opportunities for Architecture students, though there are none this year.

Students work for eight weeks and receive funding to cover transportation and living expenses, Rivers said. She said the funding, which comes primarily from the Kellogg Institute itself, allows students to participate who would not be able to otherwise because they need to earn money over the summer. Oftentimes the funding is enough for students to have some money left over at the end of their internship.

“It’s more than enough to cover everything you could dream of using in Buenos Aires,” said senior Dan McLaughlin, who participated in a Kellogg internship at the Foreign Commercial Service in Argentina.

The number of students who participate in the program varies year to year, with about 30 participating last year, Rivers said.

Rivers said the internships are intended to provide students with a chance for cultural immersion and improving their foreign language skills while working with natives of their assigned countries. Many of the internships – especially those abroad – require knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese. The degree of proficiency needed varies with the internship.

Senior Jack Calcutt, who interned in Uganda, said Africa is a good choice for those who cannot fulfill a language requirement.

During the period of the internship, students typically live with host families in their respective countries.

“You can’t get a better cultural experience than living with a family,” said senior Nicole Steele, who also worked in Uganda.

Although freshmen and sophomores can apply for the program, priority is given to juniors, Rivers said. She encouraged younger students to consider the Experiencing Latin America (ELA) Fellowships, which are open only to freshmen and sophomores and are less competitive than the summer internships.

The ELA Fellowships allow students to create their own projects or find internships, which the Institute will then provide up to $4,000 for them to pursue. According to the Kellogg Institute Web site, these projects may include research, nonprofit work, study or other activities that will increase their commitment to and knowledge of the region.

Currently, these fellowships are only available to students enrolled in the Latin American studies program. Rivers said although there is talk of expanding the program to African and Asian studies students, currently there is no funding.

The application deadline for Kellogg summer internships is Nov. 10 and the deadline for ELA Fellowships is March 2.

Rivers, as well as former interns, encouraged interested students to apply for what would he said would be a life-changing experience.

“My internship taught me to dream. I met highly motivated students from all over and built relationships in Peru with people who are amazing,” said senior Annie Brusky. “It changed me.”