Wheaton launches new funding opportunity for “winternships”

The end of the semester allows us to count down the days to winter break, look forward to the holidays, and plan all of our Netflix binge-watching. Although many of us plan on taking a break from all the work that comes with school, fifty students have applied for a new funding opportunity that Wheaton offers for “winternships.”

There’s one thing that we’re always told when it comes to our future here at Wheaton: there are only three summers, and we must utilize them wisely. While the idea of finding an internship or job that will help us towards our future may seem daunting, the addition of having four winter breaks while at Wheaton lessens the stress. Not only do winternships provide more opportunities for students to gain experience toward what they want to do post-grad, they allow for more exploration to find out where their interests lie.

Ben Chalot, Associate Director of Career Services, explains, “Last year, we started to hear from a lot of students who were interested in doing something a little more productive with their winter break. They were looking for more meaningful professional experiences.”

In order to apply for funding, students must obtain an unpaid internship over winter break that will allow them to work at least fifty hours, which is verified in a statement from their supervisor. After submitting the supervisor letter, a resume, and a 1-3 page statement of interest, students are qualified to apply for funding. 

“The most important piece of the application is the statement of interest,” Chalot said of the process. “That’s how we see how the students articulate how they want to do it, what they hope to get out of it, how it connects to courses they’ve taken, and how it pertains to what they’re thinking of as a future career.”

Sara Bowen ’15, a Women’s and Gender Studies major and sociology minor, has just submitted her application for winternship funding. She has secured an internship at the Cambridge Women’s Center, which is classified as the “home of support, social, and political activism groups for women.” There, she will be creating and implementing an event for women in the community. One of the events she hopes to plan is similar to Wheaton’s HerStory, where women will be able to address important issues, while being helped by the anonymity. Bowen will be responsible for the organization and advertisement of the event. “After Wheaton, I want to do exactly this. I want to work in Boston nonprofits that focus on women’s empowerment,” said Bowen of her winternship.

The major benefit of receiving funding for a winternship is being able to get the experience that comes from an unpaid internship while being reimbursed for time and effort by a Wheaton stipend.

“Not everybody can afford to have an unpaid internship, so having funding available is really beneficial,” said Bowen.

Claudine Humure ’17, a biology major with a minor in business and management, was one of the first Wheaton students to have a paid winternship. Last year, she worked with Komera, a nonprofit in Rwanda that helps young women from rural areas go to school. Komera means “be strong,” which is exactly what Humure helped these girls become. Because the girls she worked with are the first in their families to go to school, many of them don’t have a role model for why school is important. When they were discouraged, Humure motivated them.

“It humbled me, and I learned not to take education for granted. I learned to appreciate other people, and to consider other opinions. Watching what some of them have done with their lives since has been amazing,” said Humure of her experience.

With all that students have accomplished during their summer internships, winternships add another layer of possibility for students during their time at Wheaton.