Portland Internship Experience – Student Recovery Corps

University of Oregon — Goal 1 Initiative Portland Internship Experience – Student Recovery Corps

The Portland Internship Experience initiative provides undergraduate students with summer stipends to pursue internships with pre-selected internship sites, promoting career readiness for students while supporting local employers in the process.

Students need relevant work experience before graduation to promote job readiness, grow their skillsets, and form professional networks. But internship experience is often unattainable to students who can't bear the costs of un- or under-paid work, and these type of work experiences are particularly crucial for students from underrepresented communities that traditionally don't have access to professional networks. The Portland Internship Experience seeks to fill these gaps by providing students with stipends for meaningful summer work, matching students with local organizations in need of internship assistance.

In light of the devastating effects of COVID-19, the theme for summer 2021 is “Student Recovery Corps.” Internship placements will focus on small businesses, non-profits, and civic agencies who have been hit hard by the pandemic and would benefit from student support. This includes placing students in organizations with a demonstrated commitment to racial justice, as well as Black-owned and minority-owned businesses.

The Portland Internship Experience initiative will provide more than just a stipend to students. The program begins before the summer with professional skills counseling, such as cover letter writing and interview preparation, and includes orientation and program activities throughout the summer to create a true student community. During the first phase of the initiative, the University of Oregon aims to match 30 students from diverse backgrounds in the Portland area to meaningful 10-week internship experiences.

Initiative Differentiators

The Portland Internship Experience initiative recognizes the importance of internship experiences on a student's professional development and seeks to conscientiously match students with local organizations in need, rather than relying on the student to find a placement. It broadens the University of Oregon's traditional outreach to philanthropic partners, as well as addresses equitable access to work experience among the entire student body.

Key Interventions and Milestones

During the fall of 2020, the Portland Internship Experience initiative team selected 30 internship sites through a competitive selection process. Those sites include Portland-area small businesses, non-profits, and civic organizations. The application period for students concluded in February 2021. With more than 350 applicants, the Portland Internship Team selected a group of 75 students who will have the chance to apply and interview at 30 internship sites. The final cohort of students will accept an internship offer by April, with internships starting in late June of 2021.

Fundraising for 2021 was successful, allowing the UO to provide 30 students with a $5,000 stipend, plus co-curricular activities and dedicated staff support. Fundraising is underway for 2022.

Expected Impact

The Portland Internship Experience is designed to not only engage a diverse group of students in professional experiences, but also to support the Portland community and create relationships with organizations in need of help during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the Summer of 2021, the initiative targets a placement of 30 students in meaningful internships, with potential to expand on that goal throughout future summers to better serve the Portland community.