My internship is through the Detroit Community Based Research Program (DCBRP) in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). My specific placement within this program is with the human rights non-profit, Focus: HOPE in Detroit Michigan. As a fellow in DCBRP I am an intern for eight weeks in the Community Development Department at Focus: Hope. I was drawn to this specific opportunity first through my previous experience in UROP. Secondly, I was drawn to this experience because being an upper level Sociology major at the University of Michigan I became frustrated with the high emphasis on theory of social inequality that I was finding in my classes. I appreciate that understanding theory is necessary, especially on a foundational level to having a full, complex understanding of social problems. Why I became dissatisfied and is now motivating my future career goals was that the further I progressed in my studies I expected the practical application of the theory that I had learned in my earlier classes but what I found instead was higher theory. This divorce between theory and practice is why I chose to devote my summer to working with a community organization. I want to hopefully begin to bridge the gap between theory and practice that exists in the Social Sciences, especially the field of Sociology.
The specific project that I will be working on for the next eight weeks is the Hope Village Initiative, my role in the project is program evaluation. Through my role I hope to bring experience of conducting research in a highly rigorous environment to Focus:HOPE. Even though I anticipate this being my largest asset to the organization I am quickly figuring out that it may also be my biggest challenge. I am quickly realizing that the same rigor that I am used to with research may not be accessible or even ideal within a community organization. Therefore, I expect to learn more intimately the challenges/obstacles that Non-Profits face when serving the community. I also expect to be challenged and am excited to put the theory that I have been learning for the past three years into practice. I am also expecting to use this experience to help narrow down my career trajectory, perhaps even help me determine if working in the Non-Profit realm is something that I am indeed interested in.
Of everything that this internship is offering me what I am most excited about is the direct relevance that this experience has to my future career goals. I am excited to learn the practice and develop skills in program evaluation that will help me with my eventual career goals of Policy Evaluation/Advisement.