WOW fellowship offers students financial support for career opportunities

World of Work fellows

World of Work fellows.

Each year, the World of Work (WOW) fellowship program defrays costs for dozens of Brandeis undergraduates as they undertake internships. WOW fellowships, which carry stipends of up to $5,000, are awarded yearly by the Hiatt Career Center.

The fellowships can reduce the financial obstacles that may arise from an unpaid internship and otherwise prevent students from gaining professional skills, uncovering a new passion, or pursuing an exciting career.

This year, the Hiatt Career Center is hoping to expand this program to meet the needs of Brandeis' most vulnerable students with support through a new crowdfunded Internship Access Campaign. Funds raised through the campaign will specifically support unpaid summer internships for Brandeis students with high financial need, students who entered Brandeis under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), and those international students who have been impacted by the current administration’s travel bans.

“We believe it’s essential for every student to make the most of their time here,” said Chief Diversity Officer Mark Brimhall-Vargas, whose office is partnering with Hiatt on the campaign. “That includes the ability to take advantage of unpaid internships that give students connections and experience related to their future careers. When our students engage in these meaningful internships, they become excellent ambassadors of the Brandeis experience and further their own growth in profound ways.”

Hundreds of Brandeis students have taken advantage of WOW fellowships since they were first launched in 2008.

Gabriel Fontes ’19 of Amherst, Massachusetts is one of those students.

Fontes, an African and Afro-American studies and English double major, worked in Brooklyn last summer for New York Communities for Change (NYCC), a non-profit focused on activism and community organization. While working with NYCC, Fontes lobbied and participated in protests aimed at convincing local and state government officials to rethink real estate developments that would lead to privatization and gentrification.

“I wouldn’t have had this opportunity without WOW,” said Fontes, who used funding from WOW to pay for living expenses in Brooklyn. “I took a class on urban education at Brandeis with Professor Derron Wallace and the most exciting solutions for me were community organizing approaches. I tried to take what I learned at Brandeis, that theory, and put it into action.”

The WOW fellowship also helped Anna Craven ’18 pay for transportation to Providence from campus last summer when she interned with the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

Craven, who is majoring in film, television and media as well as creative writing, conducted promotional work for the festival, which takes place over six days each August; her internship experience heightened her interest in pursuing a film career. Additionally, the Rhode Island International Film Festival named her to their advisory board.

“The opportunity to pursue this internship was so invaluable,” Craven said. “I got a really good sense of what a career in film might be like. I had been contemplating what part of film I wanted to go into; now that I’m on the advisory board I can still keep up with the filmmakers and help with the festival.”

Students can apply for WOW Fellowships through the Hiatt Career Center; to be considered, applicants must have secured an eight-week, unpaid summer internship by the application deadline.

Through WOW, Brandeis has awarded over $1.5 million to nearly 500 students who have gained professional experience in a wide range of fields, including media, art, international relations, research, health, education and law.

"WOW is an asset to students, especially when balancing economic needs with pursuing a meaningful internship experience,” said Executive Director of the Hiatt Career Center Andrea Dine. “WOW funds can be the key that allows students to open a door to their professional future."

WOW fellowships are highly competitive and supported by various sources, including the Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice, which was established by Jules Bernstein ’57; Judith Cossin Berkman ’59 Endowed Internship Fund in Social Work; Alexander P. Heckler/Governor Ann Richards Internship Fund for public service; the Rauch Family Trust Internship Award for business-related fields; and Earl and Shirlee Katz Endowed Internship for Jewish Communal Service.


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