November 2022 Program Spotlight: Humanities@Work

When the Humanities@Work program was launched in 2016, the goal was to give humanities students exposure to various career paths through internships and enable them to have funding that would cover expenses or the entire experience.

Since then, the program—which is sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for Humanities and the Office of Post-graduate Planning and Experiential Education—has fulfilled that mission and more. 

Each April, interested humanities students are eligible to apply for summer internship funding through the program. Applicants can receive up to $5,000, depending on their application and proposed experience or internship. “Sometimes we pay for travel, sometimes we fund a student’s entire summer experience,” says Drew Poppleton, Director of Post-Graduate Planning and Experiential Education. “There are so many interesting opportunities.” Poppleton says that the summer experiences range from work with local companies and nonprofits to working internationally with law firms and film groups. 

Annually, Humanities@Work funds between 20 and 30 students between its summer stipend program and through a newer program that offers micro-internships with local non-profits, community organizations and corporations. These short-term internships are offered during the spring semester and involve projects that require roughly 6 to 10 hours a week. Students apply to the program and then a committee reviews the applications and matches the students to the micro-internship. Each student earns $600 for the work—and, importantly, they have additional skills and experience to include on their resumes. 

Poppleton says that some of the internships have even turned into full- and part-time work for students, creating a workforce pipeline for local employers. “We have some repeat customers and for them, this is terrific,” Poppleton says. 

Beyond internships, Humanities@Work also hosts helpful events that focus on resume writing, job search strategies and networking, among other topics. 

The next step in the evolution for the program is to offer students summer internships that are longer-term, but structured in the same way as the micro-internships. “We’re looking to banks and engineering firms that usually hire students from Weatherhead or the Case School of Engineering, but who could benefit from hiring students with the skills gained from studying the humanities. There are parts of those companies that are good for humanities students—for example, corporate communications or human resources—and this program could match them with those opportunities,” Poppleton says. 

At its core, the goal of the program is to ensure that funding isn’t a barrier for students. But Poppleton says that the impact for students goes beyond the money. 

“These students benefit from the experience and the organizations who host them benefit from their contributions,” Poppleton says. “We have fantastic students who are incredibly ambitious. A lot of them have such specific things that they want to do—and the fact that we can help them achieve them by removing financial barriers is phenomenal.”