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Work for Change | The Nation

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Work for Change

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Jamilah King

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The Nation
The Nation is America's oldest weekly news magazine, and one of the most widely read magazines in the world for...

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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.

Future5000.com, based in Oakland, Calif., is the first of its kind, national online database of youth organizations and organizers. The project connects youth organizations working for justice across all 50 states and helps activists visualize and organize people, activities and resources across and within diverse kinds of youth. Future 5000 is looking for a communications and research intern. It's a 20- to 40-hour-per-week internship with a weekly stipend of $300. Responsibilities include assisting in member outreach, material development, interviewing participants, writing content for the website and newsletter, field research and website administration. Deadline for applying is June 10. Send a resume and cover letter to Jessamyn (at) Future5000 (dot) com.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is looking for a development intern. This national legal organization, based in San Francisco, works to ensure the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. The center has actively fought for and won struggles in marriage and family rights, expanding immigration/asylum rights and supporting youth safety. The development intern works with a five-person development team managing research projects, maintaining contact with donors and fulfilling administrative duties. Proactive interns get the opportunity to learn how nonprofits work. The internship is unpaid, but has negotiable hours. If you're interested, send a resume and letter of interest to Melissa Higuchi mhiguchi (at) nclrights (dot) org with "Development Intern" in the subject head.

The Wetlands Activism Collective seeks energetic and committed interns to work in its New York City organization. Run as an activist collective, the organization doesn't have a president, executive director or board of directors. Instead, interns and volunteers immediately work on campaigns and attend weekly strategy meetings to determine long-term goals and short-term actions. The organization is part of a grassroots effort to oppose free trade agreements that endanger the environment, threaten jobs and displace family farmers. Intern responsibilities include organizing community forums, writing reports and brochures on free trade and updating the New York City Referendum on Free Trade website. Interested? First, fill out the Wetlands Preserve Application. After filling out the application, call Adam at (201) 928-2831.

Harlem Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (Harlem RBI) is seeking motivated, committed individuals to coach baseball as part of its innovative summer program for youth ages 9-12 in East Harlem, N.Y. Harlem RBI's REAL (Reading and Enrichment Academy for Learning) program provides educational, enrichment and baseball programs for youth in East Harlem. In addition to coaching baseball, interns will serve as assistant teachers in the organization's literacy-based enrichment program and lead off-site field trips. This is a great opportunity for young people who would like to be involved in empowering young people of color through sports and literacy. The internship offers a weekly stipend of $100 per week, in addition to the possibility of attending a paid sleep away camp in lateAugust. Those who are interested should send a resume and cover letter to realkids (at) harlemrbi (dot) org with the word "Coach" written in the subject line.

The Movement Activist Apprenticeship Program (MAAP), run through the Oakland-based Center for Third World Organizing, is a people of color-run racial justice program that helps develop young organizers. MAAP is an intensive eight-week program that introduces young organizers of color to grassroots activism by placing them on active campaigns around the country working toward justice for communities of color. Although this summer's program is already full, opportunities are still available to get involved. Community Action Trainings (CAT's) are usually held at least once a semester in cities around the country including Oakland, Los Angeles and New York. For more information on how to get involved with MAAP, contact Reem at rassil (at) ctwo (dot) org.

Jamilah King is assistant editor of WireTap. If you'd like to suggest an additional summer job posting or other resources for finding jobs, please use our comments or email her at Jamilah (at) wiretapmag (dot) org.

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