Social Impact Summers

When I first arrived at Swarthmore, I had no idea what the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility was, other than one of the buildings at the College named after the Lang family (e.g Lang Performing Arts Center, Lang Music Building). It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I fully took advantage of the many opportunities the Lang Center offers.

I had quickly realized during my summer internship search that working for environmental nonprofits was not a great financial decision. The vast majority of internships were unpaid and many were located in faraway cities, where I would have to pay rent and buy groceries and the like for the summer. Still, I knew that I wanted to explore the nonprofit world and work on environmental policy analysis, even if finding a paid summer internship was financially more viable. This was where the Lang Center came in – I learned about the Center’s social impact summer scholarships, which awards successful applicants a $4,800 grant for the summer to pursue an unpaid summer opportunity that works toward creating social change. The Lang Center supports students in finding relevant internships in one of their “Issue Areas,” so I didn’t even have to have an internship lined up in order to be eligible for the grant.

The process worked out well for me and I ended up applying for the social impact summer scholarship for the next summer as well. I spent each of my two Lang summers at the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) in Boston and the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C.

At CLF, I learned about how environmental nonprofits utilize citizen suits and litigation to fight for clean air and water for all. I moved away from litigation and worked on policy research during my next summer with ELI. I met amazing coworkers and supervisors at both organizations, figured out which parts of environmental policy and advocacy I was most interested in and learned how to function during 9-5 office days. Because of the Lang Center’s support – both financial and social, as staff from the Lang Center regularly checked in with me during the summer – I was able to follow my passion instead of having to find an internship that would support me financially.

Whether your interests lie in academic research, nonprofit work, finance, or anything else you can think of, Swarthmore has a variety of organizations to support you and ensure that all Swatties can do what they’re passionate about.

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