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Social innovation internships help students find their passion

Wednesday, August 3, 2016
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Zachary Angelini
Zachary Angelini '16G

Zachary Angelini '16G spent nine weeks this summer as an intern with the Timberland Co., where he looked at product lifecycles to help identify stages of production that have the most impact on the environment. When the internship ended, Angelini was hired full time as the associate manager of environmental stewardship.

That right there, he’ll tell you, may be the ultimate reward for participating in the 2016 Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise internship program. But it’s not the only one. Launched in 2011, the program has placed 69 UNH students — 13 this year — from all majors with businesses and nonprofit organizations whose work intersects with social innovation.

“There are many different directions you can go with your college degree, and internships are the best way to figure out where your true passion lies,” says Angelini, a civil/environmental engineering major whose time at Timberland helped him find his direction. “This internship showed me that businesses can go beyond just minimizing their impacts, but can actually find innovative ways to create environmental and social benefits.

“Businesses play a major role in some of the large environmental and social problems that we face today, but they are also the most equipped to solve them,” he says. 

Angelini was not the only student to land a job as a result of his summer internship. Edith Allard '18 (journalism and international affairs) interned at New Hampshire Business Review, writing about the state’s gender pay gap and the future of renewable energy. Keegan Smith '17 (environmental conservation and sustainability) was at Stonyfield Farm Inc. where he worked with the sustainability team to assess packaging for kids’ yogurt cartons. Taylor Berry '17 (social work, Spanish minor) and Conor McFarland '17 (economics, Spanish minor) were with ROC-NH, a New Hampshire Community Loan Fund program that helps residents in manufactured home parks buy the land their homes sit on. All four were offered part-time jobs after completing their internships.

What I've Learned in my Internship (and Out of the Classroom!)

By Stephanie Morales '17

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I am standing in a crowded elevator, steps away from reporting for my first day as the College for Social Innovation's summer intern. I remember feeling similarly on my first day of college: intimidated, excited and completely out of place. I try not to let the first jitters get the best of me as I remind myself to breathe and be confident. "Fake it until you make it," I repeat to myself.

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“The university is developing a new model of career preparation that has the capability of transforming graduates’ lives, and it is based on the premise that no longer is a great education enough. To survive and thrive in today’s challenging economic environment, great education must by supported by opportunities for internships and other experiential learning that can, in turn, lead to professional success and lifelong engagement,” says Fiona Wilson, executive director of the Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise.

Stephanie Morales '17 interned at the College for Social Innovation, a Boston-based nonprofit whose charge is to educate and inspire the next generation of problem solvers. This fall, UNH will be the first university to partner with the college to offer Semester in the City, semester-long internships in Boston. A dual major in English/journalism and international affairs, Morales was only the second intern the new organization has had.

“Going into this internship, I never realized how important business can be to social innovation; in truth, I had them in different boxes. But now, I realize that they can be closely intertwined, and that's a good thing because both entities have a need for one another,” Morales says. “With the right mission, businesses can really play a huge role in making progress on social change.”

Each year, the internship program culminates with a presentation where students outline their work and achievements during the nine weeks. Other participants in this year’s program include Matthew Bracci  '17 (dual major economics and sustainability), Dana Gingras '17 (communication and women’s studies, French minor), Gabrielle Greaves '18 (English and women’s studies, Italian minor), Micaela Guglielmi '16 (environmental engineering), Morgan Hebert '17 (political science, economics minor), Sean Hogan '16 (economics) and Gina Occhipinti '17 (economics, French minor). 

The Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise is a joint venture between the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics and the Carsey School of Public Policy