Tonia Williams, VWPP Fall 2019, Vassar ’21, talks about her internship
All VWPP students may undertake a not-for-credit internship or field work experience (click here) in addition to their academic courses. In French these are called “stages”.
50%-95% of VWPP students every semester seize the opportunity to intern with the local population. A “stage” is first and foremost a unique way to participate in an aspect of everyday French and Parisian life; to observe and interact closely with local people by integrating into their daily lives and activities.
Where do students do their stages?
In an art gallery or foundation, a Parisian museum, a non-profit organization in human rights or the environment, a lab intern, as a teaching assistant in a school, or a volunteer working with newly arrived populations in Paris, for instance. Students also get to experience new Parisian neighbourhoods and venues in their internship placements.
Why do a “stage”? VWPP students who intern in Paris gain access to local culture they would not otherwise have the opportunity to do as a visitor or foreign student; stages offer a way to better understand the local culture.
Students can also gain pre-professional experience in an international city without having to worry about finances:
As a student on the Vassar-Wesleyan Program in Paris, your total Parisian living expenses (room and board, local transportation, program excursions and visits, a co-curricular stipend, and a “stage”) are included in your comprehensive fee. This unique opportunity to take an unpaid internship while having their living expenses subsidized by the VWPP relieves our students from the financial burden an internship in a major city can represent, or taking time out from a summer job to intern. At VWPP we want every student to have the opportunity to undertake an internship “stage” in a large metropolitan city.
Acquire language and global competencies and soft skills: VWPP internships also help students acquire the soft skills needed for their later careers: they they gain the language, listening, communication, interpersonal, intercultural, and critical thinking skills employers say they are looking for in young college graduates. Our students intern with adults and children from all walks of life and backgrounds. They gain inside knowledge of a new culture and learn to adapt to the new environment a “stage” presents. They acquire global competencies that enhance their employability.
You can explore a possible career path:
Think you might want to teach someday? Come back to France or go to another country to work after graduation? Work in an international environment? Explore your field of study in the workplace? Discover the daily life of Parisian schoolchildren and their teachers? Observe how a scientific laboratory undertakes their research? Interact with artists and a gallery in a world-renowned café? All our interns experience a possible career path as they take part in the local populations’ lives going about their work in their “stages”.
How does it work?
A list of current opportunities will be provided during the Paris orientation session dedicated to this topic. We encourage students to discuss possibilities with their French professors and major advisors on campus, and follow up on any personal contacts in Paris as well. Further information can be consulted on our French website. Students apply for these internships by the second week of classes. “Stages” last for approximately 8-10 weeks, and are undertaken concurrently with students’ four academic courses. Students spend between 2 and 15 hours per week in the field, and are encouraged to keep an internship journal and participate in a dedicated meeting on how to maximize their “stage” experience.