Academics & Research News

Internship pairs students with local nonprofits


Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

The Social Economy and Enterprise Academy Internship is offering summer professional development for undergraduate and master’s students going on the second year in a row.

This partnership between the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the Hobby School of Public Affairs will pair student participants with Houston-area nonprofit organizations after an intensive class on economics and the social good.

“The main idea behind the program is that in the process of helping the Houston community, students apply concepts learned in the classroom to real-world problems in a professional setting and acquire skills that are useful for careers in a variety of industries,” said instructional assistant professor of economics Piruz Saboury.

The internship lasts from June 6 to July 7 and counts for up to three elective credit hours.

Students will be grouped into teams, each under the direct supervision of a faculty member. The students serve as consultants to nonprofit organizations – identifying an area for social innovation and welfare improvement, developing a social enterprise idea, conducting quantitative research and creating a venture plan.

In this way, they will learn about the nonprofit sector, in which firms prioritize social value over maximizing profits, according to a flier for Economics of Social Enterprise.

Economics of Social Enterprise acts as a recommended class for students to take before joining the SEEA Internship.

At the end of the program, each team will present the final work to the nonprofit leadership, UH leadership, faculty members and community members. The best project, as judged by the audience wins an award, Saboury said.

“Last year, the groups of students presented the results from a wide range of projects developed for the partner nonprofits,” Saboury said. ”The projects covered analysis of nonprofits business plans, program expansion, revenue sources, economic impact, a survey of participants and members, etc.”

This program was approved to begin in 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed the pilot year to Summer 2021.

More than 20 nonprofit organizations contacted UH wanting to be matched to interns, but SEEA faculty ultimately chose six based on program fit, availability and timing.

The internship is open to all majors but may be especially applicable to students majoring in business, computer science, economics, engineering, public policy and political science, according to the program website.

Students are encouraged to come in with at least some background in economics. Financial aid will be available for some interns, but the SEEA team does not yet have specific numbers.

“Given last year’s success, we hope to continue working with our partners from last year, and also expand the list to include new partners,” Saboury said. “We aim to increase to around 30 students with a mix of undergraduate and graduate students from different disciplines.”

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