By Sarah Aten is a public relations intern/Peace Corps campus ambassador.
I have been the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development public relations intern as well as the Peace Corps Campus Ambassador since August. The Stevenson Center runs graduate programs for returned Peace Corps Volunteers and AmeriCorps alumni, in addition to the Peace Corps Prep program for undergraduate students.
My primary duty is writing articles, which involves interviewing students, alumni, and faculty and sharing their stories. I have had the opportunity to speak to Peace Corps Volunteers currently serving in Botswana and Ukraine, and those who have served in Uganda and Ethiopia. I have heard stories from AmeriCorps members who have positively impacted communities across the nation.
Listening to so many stories about people committed to service has left a lasting impression on me. I have had ample opportunity to hone my writing skills, while considering the different audiences for my work. One of my articles about a student recently accepted into Peace Corps was shared by Peace Corps social media, and several pieces have been shared on Illinois State University’s social media. My internship has allowed my work to have wide exposure.
As Peace Corps campus ambassador, I have been fortunate to work with our campus recruiter, Hunter Ryan, to promote Peace Corps at Illinois State. From tabling at events to giving class talks, I have informed students of this career-launching and life-changing opportunity. Many of my articles have highlighted the great work accomplished by Peace Corps Volunteers. This is the first year that the position of campus ambassador and public relations intern have been merged into one role, and I find they complement each other.
As a journalism senior, my internship has afforded me the ability to become a better writer. Having attended many events on behalf of the Stevenson Center and communicated with different audiences, I have improved my public speaking and interpersonal skills. I have been able to learn from others. I am extremely grateful for the rich experiences and professional development skills I have gained.
In May, my internship with the Stevenson Center will come to an end. I encourage others, especially those with strong writing skills and an interest in community engagement to go for this opportunity!
By Kamie Schladenhauffen, data management intern
My work as the Stevenson Center’s data management intern not only provides me with rewarding opportunities to enhance my data analysis abilities but also allows me to connect with the excellent, hardworking individuals here at the center and polish skills that give me a competitive edge while job searching. I refine my quantitative and qualitative skills by working with both large numerical data sets and smaller sets of survey results, further improving my attention to detail and my ability to manage my time efficiently.
My internship involves maintaining monthly data we receive from the McLean County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC). New data from the CJCC is incorporated into existing data. Nothing feels better than editing and updating data syntax and hoping you did not make a typo that will break something, and then finding out it works flawlessly. Even when a mistake occurs, it is an engaging challenge to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.
I also perform my own analyses with data regarding the length of stay in the jail when factors related to the case, like the severity of the charge, and factors unrelated to the case, such as race or sex, are taken into consideration. As a sociology undergraduate, my interests are piqued at how social factors like race and sex impact the outcomes of situations, like total time spent in jail. This research helps the CJCC make better decisions.
Regarding the qualitative side of my internship, I work hard to analyze survey data collected from alumni and first- and second-year graduate students who were and are part of the Stevenson Center. The results of these confidential surveys influence the goals and direction of the center. I refined my ability to code qualitative data and learned how to write summary reports regarding survey data that are concise and easy to read.
One of the most amazing parts of the qualitative portion of my internship is getting to learn more about the Stevenson Center and its students. Because of the positive influence the Center has had on me, I am considering returning to Illinois State University in the near future as a graduate student in one of its programs.
The Stevenson Center seeks a public relations intern and a data management intern for next year! Our undergraduate interns work for academic credit (not pay) and must be available for both fall 2018 and spring 2019. Email StevensonCenter@IllinoisState.edu to learn more and apply now!