Social Innovation & Social Entrepreneurship is a field that combines business mindsets with activism and where social justice and social entrepreneurship interact. This semester, a small group of SISE students doing internships through the Center for Public Service attend the required weekly SISE academic seminar to discuss challenges faced at their public service internship and their role in a greater scheme of community engagement. Annie Heinrichs and Haley Burns, two of the seminar students, shared their experiences from their internship placements and academic seminar, and expressed the applicable value of the weekly discussions to their internship experiences.
Annie Heinrichs is a sophomore studying Communications. With a long-term career goal of working in a nonprofit organization, her academic advisor recommended the public service internship with a focus in SISE. She interns at A’s and Aces, a nonprofit that provides New Orleans youth academic support as well as tennis instruction. As the Tennis Tournament Administrator intern, she has been planning a spring tennis tournament event for the organization by serving as a liaison between donors, community partners, volunteers, and A’s & Aces staff and by creating marketing material. She is very welcomed at her internship placement and feels that her opinions are valued, even as an intern.
Haley Burns is a senior studying History and International Development, with a minor in Urban Studies. After her start from the Tulane New Day Challenge, Haley is now the founder and executive director of Fund 17, a nonprofit that offers micro loans to independent entrepreneurs in New Orleans. These businesses are usually home-run and free-lance, like artisan crafts and cooking, and are looking for new local and online business opportunities. On a day-to-day basis, Haley’s role consists of community outreach and finding potential entrepreneurs in mostly the 7th Ward and Central City neighborhoods. She also manages team fundraising, recruiting, and communication. Since Fund 17 is a partner with CPS and CELT, Haley was able to gain academic credit for something she was already very involved in.
Annie and Haley both agree that they have a great connection with the instructors of the SISE seminar course: Carol Whelan, Senior Professor of Practice in the Tulane Teacher Certification Program; Julia Lang, Senior Administrative Program Coordinator at the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking; and Kathryn Hall-Trujillo, founder of The Birthing Project. Through their guidance and shared experiences, the seminar is very valuable in identifying the target populations of organizations and how to counter challenges faced in the field of social innovation.
Both students feel that the coordination between the seminar and the internship is critical; in particular, the seminar has helped Haley’s organization fall into place with social entrepreneurship. The seminar enhances the internship experiences by making interns informed actors in the field of social entrepreneurship. Annie sees the President of A’s and Aces, Dr. Anna Monhartova, as a social entrepreneur, because she is helping the community in a multi-faceted, innovative way.
Like other internship seminars offered in conjunction with students’ public service internships, the SISE seminar serves as a platform for SISE students to discuss weekly updates about experiences at the internship placements, gain multiple perspectives about internship experiences, and provide an opportunity to be critical about service and community engagement. The SISE academic seminar has brought about reflection concerning innovation, one’s impact an organization as an intern, ways for effective time management, and how to improve both an organization and oneself as an intern.
Julia Turkevich is a senior studying Political Science and International Development with a minor in Architectural Studies. She is a student assistant for the Public Service Internships and International Programs at CPS.