In May, Wake Forest junior Courtney Ewing received an email that she expected, but still didn’t want to see – her summer internship with Impact Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa had been called off due to restrictions related to COVID-19.
“Even though I kind of knew all along that it probably wasn’t going to happen, it was still difficult,” said Ewing. “I switched the narrative pretty quickly though. If I couldn’t go to South Africa, I knew that another opportunity had to be out there.”
In the unique position of working directly with students and Winston-Salem nonprofits, Wake Forest University’s Office of Civic & Community Engagement (OCCE) stepped up. Community partner organizations were looking for assistance in fulfilling their missions, while Wake Forest students were looking for remote professional experience.
Shelley Sizemore, director of community partnerships in the OCCE developed the Virtual Summer Internship Program “Winston From Home.”
“Once we realized we were going to be in this remote work environment for the summer, I reached out to nonprofit organizations throughout Winston-Salem and discovered there was a significant need for work that could be done virtually to help these organizations,” Sizemore said.
In partnership with 40 Winston-Salem nonprofits, 63 students were matched with open positions – including 28 students in full-time roles as Summer Associates through AmeriCorps and 35 students placed in part-time positions.
The project marks the largest partnership effort between the OCCE and Winston-Salem nonprofits during the summer months.
Community partners, such as Latino Community Services, Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods and The Shalom Project, provide work that both enriches the capacity of the organization and provides professional development for the students throughout the nine-week program.
“Interns are helping with our communication efforts by finalizing our new website and handling our social media outreach,” said Executive Director of Latino Community Services Odette Sanchez. “This support provides better communication with our constituents, volunteers and donors and helps to generate exposure for the work that we are doing.”
In addition to working with their respective nonprofit organization, student interns attend online workshops on nonprofit management and professional development to enhance their experiences during the virtual summer program.
Marianne Magjuka, assistant dean and director of the Office of Civic and Community Engagement, and students participating in the local nonprofit remote internships are available for interviews.
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