Unions and community organizations today are facing unprecedented challenges. Over its 22-year history, the Labor Summer program has proven to be a valuable and successful vehicle for students to discover how their skills and energy can connect with the labor movement and working people. It allows students to contextualize their own experiences and understand the importance of the labor movement through both a critical framework and practice. It provides resources and connections to the University for unions and community organizations, and perhaps most importantly, it provides preparation for and entry into the labor movement to a diverse group of students with valuable skills. The Labor Center is excited to offer the internship in-person once again in 2023.
Training youth for the challenges ahead
The Labor Center carefully considers the needs and expectations of each host site organization based on their submitted applications. We develop a comprehensive five-day training to prepare students for the work they will be doing at their host organizations. Interns will learn:
- the history of the labor movement and its intersections with other social justice movements;
- current successes and challenges facing unions and social justice organizations;
- current campaigns, presented by workers and community members;
- “Organizing 101,” including one-on-one conversations, charting and mapping, and identifying leaders (“Learn Organizing Skills” track); and
- methods for strategic corporate research and power mapping (“Applied Research and Policy” track).
Building organizational capacity
With the support of site supervisors, Labor Center staff, and mentors, Labor Summer interns enter their internship ready to learn and engage in their host organization’s projects and campaigns on their first day. Setting guidelines and expectations during orientation week allows our interns to prepare for the pace and culture of each organization, and figure out how they can best participate in their sites during their seven-week placement. In the past, our “Learn Organizing Skills” interns have gained many strategies and tools for leadership development in the workplace or community. Our “Applied Research and Policy” interns have assisted research staff on long- and short-term projects that include industry and sectoral analyses, policy analysis, and research on regional and economic development.
Opportunities to recruit new talent
Unions also benefit from graduates of the program who constitute a highly-skilled, well-trained, and committed group of new talent. Over its 22-year history, the Labor Summer program has trained and placed more than 300 interns. Alumni of the program have gone on to become union researchers, community and labor organizers, labor representatives, educators, and leaders and activists in their own union locals.
The Labor Summer program:
- Recruits, screens, and selects the best interns based on your organizational needs. Interns come from universities such as UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, CSU Long Beach, CSU East Bay, and San Francisco State University.
- Provides interns with an intensive week-long training, and two additional education and training days and graduation.
- Supports host organizations with supervision guidelines and guidance on how to best use the intern’s skills.
- Pairs interns with Labor Center staff or alumni of the program as mentors.
Requirements for host organizations
- Host two or more interns.
- Provide a clear project for interns including goals, objectives, and a timeline.
- Assign a staff person to supervise the interns’ work, provide support and feedback, and be available to the intern.
- Contribute funds up front for the intern’s stipend and training costs.
- Have the ability to support an intern working remotely if needed.
- Commit to release the interns to attend two education and training sessions at the Labor Center as well as the graduation ceremony on August 11.
We look forward to hosting Labor Summer in-person this year. We understand that some of you may be eager for this change, while others may be anxious. Please be assured that we value the health and safety of our interns and partner organizations. We will continue to follow the science and public health guidance from UC Berkeley and CDC. There currently is no local, state, or federal public health guidance suggesting that we should not offer an in-person internship experience. Should this change, we’re absolutely prepared to offer the internship remotely, as we have done so successfully in the past two years.
Orientation & Debrief Session Health & Safety Protocols:
If in-person, the Labor Summer Internship program will follow the UC Berkeley campuswide guidelines, including requiring proof of vaccination. We will provide and require rapid testing prior to orientation and debrief sessions. These sessions will follow physical distancing and mask protocols and we will provide masks and hand sanitizers.
Host Organizations & Tracks:
We continue to have conversations with partner organizations. Some host organizations will be in person field work while others may permit remote work. Many host sites are unions of essential workers, who have been working in-person throughout the pandemic. Organizing interns should expect to work in-person with limited opportunities for remote work. Research internships will likely be partially or fully remote.
The program cost of $16,000 provides the hourly wages over 8 weeks for the high quality work of two student interns. Depending on your campaign or project requirements you can request an intern with undergraduate or graduate qualifications.
Interns will begin at their site placements on June 26, after they have completed their one-week orientation at the Labor Center.
Applications are due Wednesday, February 22, 2023.