Tarver Internship Program Pairs Students with Non-Profits

Summer Program Provides Connection, Assistance to the Community

The Tarver Internship program was started in 2014, after the receipt of an anonymous donation to the Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership at Marist. The internship was named after Marie and Rupert Tarver, local civic leaders who lived and worked in Poughkeepsie.

Dr. Martin Shaffer, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts, selected the first intern in the summer of 2014, after being involved with the establishment of the program. Many members of the Marist faculty who are affiliated with the Center participate in the intern selection process and also serve as mentors and advisors. Dr. Melissa Gaeke, Professor of Political Science, serves as the Director of the Center and manages the internship.

Tarver Summer Internship ProgramThe interns work under the guidance of one of the Center advisors in an independent, summer-long, three-credit study arrangement. During that time, interns receive a stipend, three free tuition credits, and free housing on campus.

A key aspect of the program, which is open to Marist undergraduate students of any discipline, is the work that the interns do with non-profit organizations. Interns affiliate with one in the Hudson River Valley that is approved by the Center and then complete set goals and objectives throughout the summer. With the help of their faculty sponsor and nonprofit site supervisor, the students design their internship project and highlight the key issues that their work will address.

Dr. Gaeke discussed the benefits of the program. “In addition to the time that interns spend on site with their non-profit partners working on the project, which is developed by the student, they also spend time learning about what makes an effective non-profit organization, capacity building, and leadership in a three-credit independent study that is taught by a Marist faculty member,” she explained. “Depending on the nature of the projects, other faculty members are brought in as mentors and advisors to assist the students in developing and executing their projects.”

The application process for the Tarver internship is rather unique. Whereas traditional internships list open positions and have students apply, the Tarver internship has Marist students propose their project ideas and pitch them to non-profit organizations that they find themselves.

Applications and information sessions begin in the fall and following the deadline, applications are reviewed and semifinalists are sent to a faculty committee for evaluation. “Based on the results of that process, the finalists are selected and the student and their community partner are invited to an interview with Dean Shaffer and myself,” Dr. Gaeke said. “After the interviews, invitations are sent to the selected interns usually by the middle of March.”  

The most recent summer interns each worked in different places throughout the Hudson Valley. These students were Nick Bayer, Breanna Lechase, Kristen Semple, Gabrielle Gerber, and Gabrielle Eberle.

Bayer, a senior Political Science major, worked with the Communications Committee of the World Affairs Council. His job was to “identify viable social media strategies to expand the organization’s membership base and attract college students.” This included updating the organization’s website and creating a set of procedures to assist with outreach and program planning.

Eberle, a junior Psychology major, completed her internship with Dutchess Outreach, “working to streamline the organization’s assessment and referral process.” Not only did she develop a survey that was administered to numerous clients but she is also in the process of writing a research paper based on her time spent with Dutchess Outreach.

Meanwhile, Gerber, a junior double major in Advertising and Economics, worked with the United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region. She “created and implemented a social media campaign that highlighted the work of the United Way.”

Lechase, a senior double major in Economics and Political Science with a concentration in Public Opinion, spent the summer with Hudson River Housing. She worked with the staff to “conduct workforce development research and identify entry-level jobs in the region by skill level and employee characteristics.” Their research was able to showcase the development of the Employment Assistance and Training Station program at the organization.

Semple, a junior International Business major with a minor in Environmental Policy, “developed and implemented an innovative social media photo project” with guests and attendees of Clearwater Sloop and other who enjoy the places where the Clearwater sails. Those photos were produced and distributed in public places throughout the Hudson River Valley region. 

To learn more about the internship program, and view application materials, visit the Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership.


Written by Adriana Belmonte '17


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