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Summer Alumni Mentorships

"What can you do with an English major?"

No doubt you've heard this question -- whether it's from your friends, your family, or even a random person in a coffee shop who just asked you what you were majoring in. The truth is that Penn English majors do just about everything: some become famous writers (like Jennifer Egan) or musicians (like John Legend) or journalists (like Andrea Mitchell). But many, many others find their ways into careers that you might not immediately associate with literature and writing. The skills these English majors learned at Penn, they report, help them in all these varied professions. Whether it's running a non-profit organization, managing political campaigns, starting a new business, litigating cases, caring for patients, or designing an ad campaign, our alums tell us that they value the skills they honed in Fisher-Bennett Hall: critical thinking, careful analytical reading, persuasive rhetoric, in-depth research.

We want to connect our current majors with these alums, to help them explore the myriad possibilities for life after the Penn English major.

For that reason, we launched Summer Alumni Mentorships. Each summer we will place Penn English majors in internships in organizations run by Penn English alumni. Rising juniors, rising seniors, and those who have just graduated are eligible to apply. Each mentorship involves 20 hours a week for 8 weeks, and the student will receive an award from the English Department of $2500.

You can see descriptions of SAMs from previous years and comments from our student interns by clicking here.

Summer Alumni Mentorships are a valuable opportunity for both our students and our alumni. Students receive important training and put the skills they have learned to practical use, with money to cover their living expenses for the summer months. Alumni gain valuable assistance (at no expense to them), while helping to shape the career paths of future leaders and maintaining their connection with Fisher-Bennett Hall.

In order to apply for a Summer Alumni Mentorship, please give hard copies of the following to Loretta Williams (FBH 130) by noon on Friday, March 1, 2019:

  1. a brief statement of why you are interested in the position you are applying for (300 words maximum); you may only apply for one of the positions
  2. an unofficial transcript
  3. your resume
  4. the name of a faculty member who knows you well and is willing to provide a brief recommendation (300 words)


Summer 2019:

Judith Creed Homes for Adult Independence (JCHAI; is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people with intellectual disabilities and autism live and work in the community as much like everyone else as possible. We win awards annually for being one of the most innovative organizations in the country, and government agencies from other states seek us out to provide guidance and service.

An intern with JCHAI will be responsible for crafting and revising content for our website as well as our broader social media presence. We also require research into our successful outcomes: we have four times as many people employed in the community as the national average for people with disabilities, and though we know what we are doing that sets us apart, the data may hold some surprises. This work in particular could be important for influencing policy and practice for employing people with intellectual disabilities.

This position allows an English major to use their writing and critical thinking skills in the nonprofit sector, in the service of a critical segment of our society.