Poster(Max Huang - Bates Student)_007

Students present their research to alumni and families. MAX HUANG/THE BATES STUDENT

Last Friday, students who had summer internships funded by Purposeful Work presented at the Purposeful Work fair in the Pettengill Atrium. Each student had a poster that displayed their internship experiences. Among the presenters were Sadie James ’17, Evan Molinari ’16 and Tara Das ’16.

There was a total of $340,000 in Purposeful Work Funding competitively awarded to students in the summer of 2015 alone. The funding came from “philanthropic gifts, particularly leadership gifts from two families creating the Campbell Fund for Purposeful Work Internships and the Rice Purposeful Work Internship Fund,” Associate Director of Internship Program Design Christina Patrick said.

97 rising sophomores, juniors and seniors interned in a variety of fields including school districts, farms, research labs, technology start-ups, theater companies, marketing firms and hospitals.

Sadie James, a Maine native, interned at the Development of Mind and Emotions (DOME) Lab at Montana State University (MSU) in Bozeman, Montana.

“I absolutely love working with youth, so when I saw Dr. Brooker’s developmental psychology lab on the MSU website I realized I could definitely combine two of my fields of interest–Psychology and Education–and potentially WGS [Women and Gender Studies],” James said. “I also wanted the experience of being at a large state school, where there are so many research opportunities for undergrads.”

James interned at MSU for 12 weeks, working alongside a PhD Professor, the director of the lab, three graduate students and one undergraduate student—all MSU students. “It was a lot of information thrown at me in a very short time period,” James said. “I was exposed to… running visits for a toddler study, the Internal Review Board approval process, coding videos, analyzing data, discussing articles, and interacting with the community were some of the many things my boss and coworkers introduced me to.”

Much of James’ internship consisted of data entry and organizational office work. She also helped with research and recruitment and met with her boss once a week to discuss Developmental Psychology and ran a cardiac study.

“It was so, so cool to see my classes at Bates come alive in Montana,” James said. “I’ve read so many articles on psych studies and research projects, but I was actually doing that this summer– I wasn’t reading about EEG data and cortisol levels, but actually collecting them.”

Regarding the Purposeful Work reflections, “[They] were really helpful for me because it made me actively think about what I was taking away from my internship. It was also great to see what other PW Interns were taking away from their internships, and see if anyone else was sharing similar struggles and successes as me,” James said.

Evan Molinari interned at the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D.C. with Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree for two months. He came across the internship on the BCDC website.

“I had always been interested in politics and government, and I wanted to learn more about Maine– and this gave me the opportunity to do both,” Molinari said.

Molinari’s responsibilities included answering phones, delivering mail, sorting faxes and correspondence, drafting letters to constituents, giving tours of the capitol building, attending meetings and hearings with/for legislative staff, writing bill recommendations, delivering hard copies of bills to the Rules Committee, and a number of other jobs.

“I gained a new respect for Government and the legislative respect, and lost the little respect I had for two-party politics,” Molinari said.

Tara Das interned with Safe Voices Shelter and Community Education Department in Lewiston for 10 weeks. Das interpreted and translated domestic violence awareness materials and information sessions for French-speaking New Americans, collaborated with other community educators on elements of domestic violence curriculum, assisted with client intake and shelter operations and shadowed the court advocate at the Lewiston District Court.

Prior to her internship, Das worked on an independent research project that looked at domestic violence and refugee issues in the Bates Politics/WGS class “Gender and the State,” which made her interested in nonprofit work toward women’s issues and refugees in Maine.

“I’ve also always been interested in non-profit/advocacy work and wanted to spend my summer before senior year getting to know Maine a little more, so Safe Voices was the perfect fit for all these criteria,” Das said.

Nonetheless, the experience had its challenges: “The most challenging part was interpreting and translating, as it not only involved translating language, but also translating culture. The discourse of domestic violence awareness education is not always accessible for New American communities, so I had to learn how to negotiate the paradox of objectively translating the material but also subjectively attempting to make it relative to the audience,” Das said. Working with Safe Voices helped Das open the door to grassroots advocacy and nonprofit work; a field she may pursue in the future.

The overall feedback for Purposeful Work has been positive. Christina Patrick, who works with the Purposeful Work initiative and the Bates Career Development Center to design, launch, and manage the Purposeful Work Internship Program, reflects on the programs intentions. Purposeful Work is designed “to foster a habit of ongoing reflection in an easy, efficient format. We want to support students to think about their interests, their skills, and their professional relationships in the moment so that students can act on these reflections—informing decisions they make about projects they seek out as interns, classes and research opportunities they want to explore in the coming academic year, career exploration steps they may want to take in the years ahead.”