I actually worked on an OCI (On-Campus Internships through the Marriott School) team at the same time I worked with SIP (Social Innovations Projects through the Ballard Center). I haven’t yet worked on an internship through the English department but I can say that what distinguishes SIP from other on-campus experiential learning opportunities is the chance that there is to work with some very worthwhile organizations and people whose aim is primarily social. My project was to work with the president of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation (RFBF) to help develop a business plan for a business incubator that will serve refugees and other minority groups in Manchester England. The incubator has a launch date for this spring and will be a pilot program for a system that could one day spread across the world. It was as intense as it was meaningful, and I know from my discussions with other SIP students that they feel the same way. I highly recommend supplementing your BYU education with an on-campus experiential learning program. It’s a chance to really apply your skills as an English major while gaining valuable real world experience. Furthermore, if you want the work that you do to be focused primarily on the public good then SIP is where you want to be.
2. What is your advice to future interns to help them have a successful experience?
Get used to ambiguity. Embrace it. Part of the fun of SIP is being asked to do something you don’t know how to do and then figuring out a way to do it. You can expect communication and expectation issues, and you can be sure that you won’t be given answers to important questions or even always the methods to find those answers. All of that, though, is what working in the real world is about, and especially working in fields as innovative as what you will find in SIP. This may put you far outside your comfort zone, but that’s where all of the real learning happens anyway.
3. What was the most rewarding aspect of your internship experience?
It’s a tie between working with our mentor, Brian Grimm, and the chance to be involved in a project that had so much potential to change the world. Brian (as he asked us to call him), the president and founder of RFBF, is a man of incredible vision who would be on the phone with us one day, then meeting with LDS apostles in Salt Lake the next, then presenting to the Parliament of the UK, then to Congress after that, and end his week meeting with dignitaries on the Arabian Peninsula. The chance to rub shoulder with someone like him was invaluable. Moreover, the work he had us do was something that I truly believe will one day help a lot of people. Knowing that I played a role in getting it all started, especially as an English major undergrad in Provo, Utah, is a treasure.
4. Anything else you’d like to share about your experience?
I was in charge of the financial section of the business plan, which included financial projections, budgets, balance sheets, chashflows, income sources, and a lot of other work and research in which I had no background. There was certainly a steep and difficult learning curve I had to overcome but in the end I’m glad I had the chance to develop skills I likely wouldn’t have elsewhere, and to realize that it wasn’t at all incompatible with my humanities education.
For any English students who may be involved in the Honors program: I helped lobby the Honors to count SIP as an experiential learning experience. They haven’t officially putting it on their forms yet, but if you’re an honors student looking to get that component of the program done, look no further.
For information about Social Innovations Projects, click here.
For information about On-Campus Internships, click here.