World of Work helps open doors for ambitious undergrads

The Hiatt Career Center program awards stipends for Brandeis students performing unpaid internships


Hailey Magee '15, center, with interns from NARAL. An unpaid internship over the summer led to a full-time job for Magee.

For Maeve O'Connor '11, an unpaid summer internship at a domestic violence shelter helped her confirm she wanted to be a social worker. But it was an opportunity she may not have been able to pursue without the Hiatt Career Center's World of Work (WOW) fellowship program, which provides stipends to Brandeis students performing unpaid internships.

"I would not have been able to do an unpaid internship,” said O'Connor. "This gave me the opportunity to get some real hands-on experience working in a domestic violence shelter. It made me say, 'I want to be a social worker, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.'"

Since her summer at Grace Smith House in Poughkeepsie, NY, O'Connor has earned a master's degree in social work and is now a social worker for the public defender's office of Massachusetts.

The WOW stipends of $3,000 to $5,000 are awarded to select Brandeis students who have secured unpaid summer internships. A total of 52 students were awarded stipends this past summer. Some travelled across the world, others across the country, and some stayed closer to home.

"The ideal candidates are students who have thoughtfully selected an internship site and established goals they want to accomplish that summer," said Jackie Blesso, assistant director of career development at the Hiatt Career Center. "We encourage students to work with us throughout the application process. Unpaid internships are prevalent today and this program helps remove barriers. We want students to succeed.” 

An unpaid internship at NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts over the summer of 2014 led Hailey Magee ’15 to a full-time job at the non-profit. She spent the summer coordinating college campus efforts, and now she's working full-time for the organization while finishing up her bachelor's degree at Brandeis.

"It was kind of the dream circumstance for what everyone on unpaid internships hopes would happen," Magee said.

WOW offers several different awards that span all industries and fields, including internships at mission-driven organizations supported by the Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice, founded by Jules Bernstein '57. The internship must take place in the summer, last at least eight weeks, and involve more than 200 work hours. Students create goals for their internships and secure the organizations’ support in meeting them. The students chronicle their experiences in blog posts throughout the summer.

Alex Weick '15 said the WOW requirements helped him ensure his responsibilities at a film studio in Los Angeles went beyond fetching coffee. He spent much of his internship reading scripts for Lava Bear Films, including some projects that are now in production.

"They really prioritized it being educational for me, the requirements of the program were incredibly beneficial," he said.

Applications for the World of Work program are due in February and April, but prospective applicants are encouraged to work with the career center to begin developing their application months in advance. The summer 2015 application launches in January. More information can be found on the Hiatt Career Center's website.

Categories: Alumni, Business, Humanities and Social Sciences, Student Life

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage