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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 are launching an exciting new initiative: the Summer Alumni Mentorships. Each summer we will place several 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.

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 March 31:

  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)

2017 Summer Alumni Mentorships

1) Judith Creed Homes for Adult Independence

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.  Although we are about to celebrate our 30th anniversary, we win awards annually for being one of the most innovative organizations in the country and government agencies from other states are now seeking us out to provide services there.  Our website is and you can learn more about what we do there. 

Responsibilities for the summer intern:

1) We need to beef up our social media presence.  We would like someone to help us revise our website copy, as well as write things for Facebook and Twitter.  We also want to have some kind of blog, so the intern could write for that, too.

2) We are trying to figure out why we are so successful in getting our clients employed in the community at "real" jobs.  We have four times as many people employed in the community as the national average for people with disabilities.  We need to collect data directly from our clients and also go through some of our client progress notes to get more data.  We will then be able to use the data to determine what we are doing so well.  We have some ideas of what we are doing that sets us apart, but the data will help to confirm it and maybe hold some surprises, too.  We have a lot of organizations around the country who are interested in whether what we are doing is replicable (as are we!), so this could be very important for influencing policy and practice for getting jobs for people with intellectual disabilities.


2) Rising Tide Interactive  

Rising Tide Interactive is a data-driven digital advertising agency with a personal approach and a history of winning results for our clients. Over the past two election cycles, our work has helped Democrats win nine US Senate races and seven gubernatorial elections. We’ve helped win hard-fought ballot initiatives on critical issues like gay marriage and personhood. And we’ve helped raise tens of millions of dollars for campaigns and non-profit organizations.

We work exclusively for political campaigns and non-profit organizations; we have no corporate clients. All of us at Rising Tide Interactive are strongly committed to using our knowledge of the Internet to create positive change – helping candidates and organizations who focus on promoting social justice.

Responsibilities for the summer intern:

This Summer Alumni Mentorship is an excellent opportunity to learn marketable skills in digital politics. Responsibilities will include helping with ad development; writing/drafting and editing outbound marketing email and ad copy; building, sending, and monitoring blast emails; creating and updating email and ad performance reports/analytics; performing market research; and assisting teams with client services.