An education at Cal State Long Beach involves plenty of classwork and theory, but obtaining real-world experience while in school can be challenging for some students, especially during a pandemic.
That’s why, officials say, the university launched the Long Beach Community Internship Project — a program connecting Long Beach Promise senior college students with area nonprofits to provide them with working experience in a chosen field.
“We had to look at ourselves and ask, ‘what are the barriers for our students?’” Beth Manke, interim dean for student success, said. “I had to ask myself if all of our students have the resources to apply for high quality internships, and that answer was probably not.”
High-quality internships are paid internships with reputable firms. Manke said that her concern was that many of the CSULB students avoid applying for internships because they don’t have the resources to dedicate themselves to an opportunity that is non- or low-paid.
“All of the students chosen for this program are Long Beach Promise students,” she said. “They grew up here, they went to high school here, and they are largely low-income.
“They need jobs to help pay bills, or help their families; they can’t afford to not make money and be solely students.”
Manke helped launch the Community Internship Project last year and celebrated with an official kickoff event earlier this month. Thirty-nine students were selected for the program and assigned to 38 different Long Beach nonprofits, including Andy Street Community Association, Century Villages at Cabrillo, The Heart of Ida and Precious Lamb Preschool, to name a few.
And while the internship has just started for those students, they can expect to collaborate with their selected nonprofit up until graduation. The opportunity not only grants them professional working experience, but also networking and interpersonal experiences.
“Upon graduation, I’m seeking a career in the nonprofit sector, with hopes of working to contribute to collective goals, strengthen my community and catalyze positive change,” Emily LaSalle, music and political science major, said. “Interning for a Long Beach nonprofit organization introduces me to new ways to support my community and better prepare me for a career in public service.”
La Salle was paired with Long Beach Gives, a nonprofit that organizes citywide fundraisers every year. She will assist with outreach and help prepare for the next Long Beach Gives Event happening later this year.
But what makes this opportunity unique is that all students will be paid for their work to the tune of $1,500 each, in addition to course credit. CSULB is fronting $1,000 per student while the nonprofits agreed to pay a total of $500 each.
“Our ultimate goal is to see our students get the professional development they need to succeed after graduation,” Manke said. “And it starts with reevaluating our projects and acting on the needs of our students.”
Opportunities for CSULB seniors to apply for the Long Beach Community Internship Project Fall session will be available later this semester. For more information, go to csulb.com.