Unique Internship Experience

We are at a time where technology and social media have made activism possible anytime, anyplace. The SISGI Group is using this to our advantage. We have a very unique, cutting-edge virtual internship that brings together the best and the brightest students from around the world under a common cause.

The SISGI Group developed our internship model with a small cohort of students in February 2011. Since then students from all over have participated in a virtual internship experience that allows them to connect their academics with their personal interests. They learn how to manage projects, research issues and work with SISGI Group partners all while leveraging technology in our digitally focused culture.

Our internship model allows students in rural and/or isolated communities to have the same opportunities for a great internship experience as those located in urban and social sector hub cities. While researching and concentrating on issues they care about, they can also learn tangible skills to prepare them to work in the nonprofit or social sector. As part of a cohort of interns they participate in a team environment with other students studying different and sometimes similar topics. This prepares students for diverse , cross cultural and global team based work upon graduation.

This need for a new internship experience rose from several issues we saw impacting our clients and partners:

  • Entry level workers were not prepared with practical skills in college or in previous work experiences which created a very high learning curve for new hires.

Though many recent graduates and new hires had great volunteer experiences they knew very little about how to write for a general audience or for nonacademic circumstances. They also knew very  little about project management or program management and required a great deal of handholding in their day to day work. Our interns gain these experiences significantly reducing their learning curve when hired.

  • Social media experience is a high need within the nonprofit and social sector and though recent graduates are more familiar with social media than their supervisors, they lacked skills in using it for professional settings.
Our interns learn how to use social media and online communities to share and raise awareness of social issues. This allows them to enter the workforce with experience using a variety of social media platforms specifically for social change awareness including Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs.
  • Many organizations could use the capacity support that having an intern brings, but lack the capacity to manage, recruit and supervise an intern, especially through the months where there is a very high learning curve.
As a consulting group we are familiar with working with a diverse client base and have the capacity to prepare interns to support the needs of our clients. Since we have a structured program model, clients and nonprofit partners are only responsible for the project communication with the intern and not the training, supervision and overall management. This allows the organization to receive the benefit of the intern without the hassle of developing an internship program.
  • Most internship programs in the sector either were too specific or too broad to actually prepare students to enter the field.¬†
For many students, especially undergraduate students they are still determining what path they will ultimately end up taking upon graduation. Because our internship program allows them to have some broad focused activities (research and writing about an area they are interested in) combined with specific skills development (social media, online presentations, strategic plans, program planning, and organization research and evaluation) they are able to continue to use this opportunity as a learning experience. This experience would be difficult to duplicate in an internship program that was specific to one organization and not a consulting organization.

What kind of students participate in this internship experience?

Our program has students from all majors, universities and backgrounds. Many are students that have not had an opportunity to connect their academic interests with a practical experience. Others have had several internship experiences but want to learn some specific skills prior to entering their career. Several are graduate students that want specific management experiences that will assist them in the next phase of employment. They are strong students who have the ability to manage their time and work within our organization’s culture.
A new cohort of interns start every semester, though most will stay for the entire academic year. It is a highly competitive program with only a small percentage of applicants chosen each semester. To learn more about the types of students that participate in this program and to hear the personal experiences of current and past interns please view the Intern Profiles.

Intern Profile – Pallavi, Spring 2011 Cohort

Intern Profile – Ryan, Summer 2011 Cohort

Intern Profile – Michelle, Summer 2011 Cohort

Intern Profile – Julia, Summer 2011 Cohort

Intern Profile – Areeba, APYD Initiative Intern (Social Change Leadership Fellow) 2011-2012