Women in Science and Engineering Program Expands Internship Program

Internship opportunities for undergraduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics expanding at The University of Arizona.

The UA's Women in Science and Engineering, or WISE, program is offering internships for students at 10 hours weekly. Though the internship does not offer a financial incentive, student interns will earn course credits.

WISE promotes women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as the STEM fields, through programs and services offered for girls in southern Arizona and on campus.

Students are encouraged to apply now for the internship, which will run Aug. 31 through Dec. 9.

The internship program, which is run out of the UA's Southwest Institute for Research on Women and the gender and women's studies department, grows out of a pilot project that was held during the spring semester.

During the spring, two students were involved as interns and the WISE staff evaluated "how an internship program would mutually benefit the organization as well as the students that participate in it," said Carly Thomsen, a research technician and events coordinator for WISE.

"They were engaged in many aspects of professional development – learning to write grants, organizing events and supporting WISE staff in a number of other ways," she said.

Thomsen crafted the internship from a model she developed for another internship program at the Women's Resource Center, where she previously worked.

Since 2007, more than 75 interns have participated in the Women's Resource Center internship program, she said.

"We hope that WISE's program will grow into something comparable over the next couple of semesters," Thomsen said.

Each year, WISE works with girls from schools throughout southern Arizona through the Expanding your Horizons Conference. Those involved in the program also mentor adolescent and teenage girls.

At the UA, WISE also has involved hundreds of students in its programs, which include the WISE living learning wing at Gila Hall, seminar courses, with scholarship funding and other opportunities.

As part of the internship program, students will work closely with WISE staff to develop programs, coordinate events, host meetings and conduct research, Thomsen said.

Seeking grants, keeping track of program membership, planning a fundraiser, working on the newsletter,  coordinating both social and acacemic events, writing press releases, recruiting panelists and workshop facilitators and recruiting students for WISE programs are among the tasks interns can expect to complete.

Kiona Meade was one of the two interns to serve during the pilot portion of the program during the spring semester.

"Being an intern for WISE was a wonderful experience for me," said Meade, a spring 2009 intern and UA sophomore studying biosystems engineering.

"Throughout my life, I have always had people encouraging me to do the things that I loved – math and science being two of those things," said Meade, an Honors College student. "This internship allowed me to give back some of knowledge and experiences by helping encourage younger girls to pursue careers in STEM fields."