May 30, 2007
Every kid wants a job. Yet for socially conscious youth, finding a job that meets stringent personal, political and financial needs is a rugged quest. With the dawn of summer just on the horizon, WireTap has compiled a short list of job opportunities for progressive youth.
Gaining worthwhile internship experience is an important tool not just for resume building. For many socially conscious youth, internships can mean forming long-lasting alliances around issues such as healthcare reform, racial justice and human rights. Elizabeth Cabacho, a recent graduate of Pomona College in Southern California, says that it wasn’t until after her sophomore year in college that she realized the importance of internship experience. “I was always involved in activism on campus,” she remembers, “but I usually didn’t have time during the year to work with the community.”
For many students, landing their ideal social justice internship is tough. Many positions don’t pay, and many socially conscious organizations are run on paper-thin budgets that don’t allow them to offer stipends to their interns. Cabacho remembers working at restaurants during her summers in college in order to help pay for school. “I was too busy with work that paid to really focus on nonpaying internships for issues I was really passionate about.”
So how are progressive youth supposed to help empower their communities and foster self-sufficiency? The answer: a careful balancing act. Karen Suarez, director of career services at Pitzer College, acknowledges that it’s a hard road to mesh personal passions with financial well-being. “Communication, in any professional situation, is incredibly important,” she says. To help meet financial needs, Suarez often encourages her students to look for additional administrative assistant jobs in addition to their internship. “It’s also useful to talk with your employer about negotiating your hours to allow for paid work. Even if the internship is listed as unpaid, it’s often useful to be assertive and ask your employer for some kind of compensation.”
Although summer is already under way, there are still quality internships available whose deadlines haven’t already passed:
The Campaign for Labor Rights (CLR), located in Washington, D.C., is looking for both summer and fall program interns. CLR is a national nonprofit organization that educates and mobilizes communities around anti-sweatshop issues. A project of the Alliance for Global Justice (AFGJ), CLR operates as a nonhierarchal collective that promotes hands-on experience for interns. Currently, CLR’s active campaigns include The Wal-Mart Model–an anti-sweatshop labor protest, fighting anti-union violence in Central and South America and opposing the spread of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). While the position’s duties include sending out action alerts, updating web pages and attending various strategic planning meetings, CLR National Coordinator Jon Hunt assures that interns will work on active campaigns and share the responsibilities of everyone in the organization. The internship position is unpaid, but hours are flexible in order to allow for additional work and school commitments. Interested? Send a resume and writing sample to Jon Hunt at jon (at) afgj (dot) org.