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Internships unlock international education

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Annual awards dinner of Human Rights Watch London, 2010. (Photo: HRW London on Flickr, cropped.) CC BY-ND 2.0. Human Rights Watch is one of the many international organizations at which UCLA students can do an internship.

UCLA juniors and seniors can earn credit for doing an internationally oriented internship.

By Peggy McInerny, Director of Communications

UCLA International Institute, November 6, 2015 — Many students know that they can gain international experience through study abroad programs, but few know that an internship can also provide valuable international education experience.

An upper-division course offered through the UCLA International Institute’s Academic Programs (International & Area Studies 195CE) enables students to earn four units for an internationally oriented internship. Launched in 2014, the directed summer session course allows UCLA juniors and seniors to work off-campus at a business or non-profit organization on a paid or volunteer basis. The location of the internship can be local, national or international. The program is open to all majors.

Here’s how it works. Students finds an internship using the online listings and resources of the UCLA Center for Community Learning (CCL) and/or the International Institute’s Academic Programs, as well as through their own targeted research. After securing the internship and enrolling in the I A Std 195CE course, students then spend 80-100 hours over the course of 10 weeks at the internship site. During that time, they apply international studies theories and concepts to their internship experience, analyzing the effects of the global, interconnected nature of our world on people, cultures, politics, economics and organizations. 

In other words, students take their academic knowledge beyond the classroom. In course papers and during one-on-one meetings with the course coordinator, they analyze their organizations and work experience within an international context. Each week, they address such themes as international markets, corporate social responsibility, global development practices, migration and transnational identities, mass communications technologies, and human and political rights. A final research paper then explores a specific aspect of the student’s internship within an international framework.

The course gives UCLA students a hands-on way to gain insight into the global nature of the contemporary world while gaining useful job skills. Past students have done internships at Human Rights Watch, the U.S. Department of State, the United Nations, Women Thrive Worldwide, local congressional offices (doing research on immigrant populations) and investment firms. Other possible organizational hosts include the Democracy Council, International Medical Corps, mothers2mothers and Global Philanthropy Group, among others.

Effective summer 2016, a new scholarship fund became available to help students defray the costs of doing an international internships. Preference id given to students wishing to pursue an internship abroad that deals with improving people’s financial literacy. 

Students interested in registering for the I A Std 195CE course next summer should have potential internship placement sites in mind no later than the end of spring quarter 2018.

Updated fall 2017



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