Occidental’s highly competitive Community Arts and Public Service (CAPS) internship program is a donor-funded summer internship opportunity in which interns perform complex projects on-site for 35 hours a week.
In addition, three Occidental students have earned fellowships to intern at Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers in Portland, Ore., a coffee company founded by David Griswold ’84. (The opportunity was created especially for Oxy students and was co-funded by the College President’s Office and Sustainable Harvest.)
"The CAPS applicant pool this year was incredibly competitive," said Valerie Savior, director of the College’s Career Development Center. Thirty-three students applied for the six 10-week internships, which pay a little over $3,200, all funded by the Ahmanson Foundation. All class years are encouraged to apply each March through the CDC's on-campus interview process. Pre-selected individuals move forward to on-site interviews, and the participating organizations make the final selections.
In addition to their internships, CAPS students participate weekly in IMPACT, an on-campus educational component that supports professional learning objectives throughout the internship and ensures that their internship appears on their academic transcript.
CAPS interns learn about child advocacy at the Children’s Law Center, a non-profit law firm representing the interests of children, headquartered in Monterey Park; participate in the business of running an art slide registry and managing artists at the Department of Cultural Affairs Slide Registry, housed in the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery located in Barnsdall Art Park in Los Angeles; assist in the development and volunteer departments at the Downtown Women’s Center, a nonprofit that offers support services to homeless and very low-income women in downtown Los Angeles; help to coordinate youth and family programs at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, the internationally known research and educational center set amid 150 acres of public gardens in San Marino; participate in fundraising and communications efforts at Visual Communications, an Asian Pacific media arts center in Los Angeles; and work in fundraising at A Noise Within, a resident theater company performing a rotating repertory on a year-round basis in Glendale.
"My internship so far is one of the best experiences I have ever had," said Kashika (Kashi) Arora ’12, a psychology major from Redmond, Wash. who is interning at the Children’s Law Center. "By nature of my internship site, some days can be very intense and emotional. However, overall it is an enriching experience, my supervisor is inspiring, and I feel that I've been both challenged and fulfilled by this opportunity."
Sydney Coleman ’12, a psychology and Spanish double major from Cranston, R.I., is also interning at the Children’s Law Center. "I have been researching fetal alcohol syndrome and funding sources for referrals and screenings for FASD dependents. I have also been interviewing children who are in foster care and group homes, both in person and over the phone, in between observing court proceedings. It has been a phenomenal experience," she said.
Taylor Eichenwald ’13, a history major from Bellaire, Texas, has enjoyed the one-on-one interactions with staff at A Noise Within. "The relatively small staff size has allowed me to learn from and develop relationships with everyone from the founders/artistic directors to the director of education," he said. "I'm seriously considering going into the non-profit sector after I graduate from Oxy because of this experience. A Noise Within exemplifies a small non-profit in that everyone who works here is committed and passionate about the cause, and the organization relies heavily on teamwork and grass-roots efforts to get donors and subscribers involved. I've learned a lot about myself and the challenges facing arts organizations."
Lauren Cooley ’12, an art history major from New York City, has relished the opportunity to explore her interest in art in depth through her internship at the Department of Cultural Affairs Slide Registry. "I have been able to explore new artists, venues, and cultural institutions through my exposure to artists and the arts scene in Los Angeles, which has turned out to be a much more tight-knit community than I would've thought," she said. "Additionally, the people I work with are fun and positive, and it is great to be a part of a force that is so positive for the community. I am learning about a field and industry that I intend to pursue in higher education and in my career."
Erica Nager ’12, a psychology major from El Dorado Hills, Calif., is interning in the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens’ education department, and Daina Solomon ’12, an English and comparative literary studies major from Los Angeles, is working at Visual Communications.
In addition to the CAPS interns, Tara Skar ’12, a diplomacy and world affairs major from Minneapolis; Nick Conti ’12, an urban and environmental policy major from Portland, Ore.; and Lee Rosch ’13, a media studies major also from Portland, Ore., were awarded fellowships to intern at Sustainable Harvest in Portland, Ore. Sustainable Harvest is a specialty coffee importer that uses the Relationship Coffee model to bring all members of the coffee supply chain together and serve everyone involved — from the farmer to the consumer.
"As a DWA major, I've always been interested in international collaboration between organizations and local communities," said Skar, explaining why she applied for the fellowship. "I've also worked with Campus Dining as a student assistant for sustainability, and have been interested in promoting more environmental practices to the Oxy community through alternatives in food sourcing, packaging, etc. After researching Sustainable Harvest, I discovered that this company followed the ‘triple-bottom line’ principle, meaning its business goals combined community development, environmental sustainability, and profit into its purpose and practices. I'd learned about this type of company through courses at Oxy, but had thought most of these businesses were based in Europe or that I had no connection to them. And then here, right in front me, was a company that was based on this model and worked.
"I'm so excited to be working with people, with a business that through its practices provides a successful model for other businesses. That, with time, can help inspire and shape other companies so that responsible, supportive business practices are the norm, rather than the exception," she said.