Smith To Launch Unprecedented 'Universal' Internship Program
If college is a launch toward a career or graduate school, internships, although often unpaid, are increasingly important springboards.
On October 2, Smith College will expand its commitment to providing women the broadest possible options in education and careers with the inauguration of "Praxis," a program providing access to funding for an internship for every junior or senior Smith student, starting with the 700 students in this year's entering class.
Praxis, which can be translated from Greek as "action learning" or "practical learning," reflects the college's commitment to tying theoretical learning to significant early practical experience. The program will ensure that every Smith student can afford to participate in an internship during her Smith years, either in the summer or during term time, an experience that will draw on her academic background and help her build toward her career goals.
"Our alumnae have told us that the internship experiences they had while at Smith added a dimension to their liberal arts education that was critical," Smith President Ruth Simmons said in explaining the evolution of Praxis.
"We wanted to be sure that that dimension of experience was truly a choice available to every student."
While Smith and other colleges have long offered internships -- currently, more than half of all Smith students do internships every year, a number of them funded by the college -- it is often difficult for students who can't afford a summer without a paycheck to take advantage of internships. Internships in the corporate world and the professions will be under the Praxis umbrella but the program's focus will be in areas where funded internships are typically not available. These will include the non-profit sector, the arts, start-up businesses and some media.
Some of the funding will enable more students to undertake Smith Internships in the Public Interest, an inner-city internship program initiated by Smith alumnae in which interns teach GED classes to teens and adults, coordinate urban volunteer networks, organize health education fairs, and provide consulting to non-profit organizations, among other things.
The universality of Praxis is believed to be unique among liberal arts colleges.
"Our research suggests that Smith is the first college of its kind to guarantee every student access to a funded internship," observed Barbara Reinhold, director of the Career Development Office. "But that's not surprising, since it's a natural outgrowth of what we're all about.
"Smith's mission has long been to produce women who will make a difference in society, be committed to public service, and lead the institutions and organizations that improve communities," she explained.
The Praxis inaugural event, which will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 2, will feature high-profile leaders, many of them Smith alumnae, from business, the professions, and the non-profit sector, who will talk about their career paths, issues for women in the workplace, and the importance of internships.
Speakers include Shelly Lazarus '68, CEO, Ogilvy & Mather, who will give the keynote address; Angela Diaz, M.D., Director, Adolescent Health Center, Mt. Sinai Medical Center; Elizabeth Mugar Eveillard '69, Managing Director, PaineWebber; Nancy Lowe Henry '67, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel, Dun & Bradstreet; Harry P. Kamen, retired Chairman and CEO, MetLife; and Kathryn Rodgers '70, Executive Director, NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund.
The kick-off symposium, which will take place in Theatre 14 of the Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts, is free and open to the public.
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