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New Internship Program Pairs Frosh with Alumni

David Tarin -- The Tech
Professor Arthur Steinberg, director of the Freshmen/Alumni Internship Program

By Carina Fung
Associate News editor

This summer will mark the first year of the Freshmen/Alumni Internship Program. Freshmen will fan out across Boston to work for employers who will know the meaning of 6.001 and Lobby 7.

The program, allowing freshmen to work with alumni as their employers and mentors, is designed to give freshmen "a taste of the real world at an early start, as well as give them a strong foundation for future jobs," said Marshall Hughes, program administrator for Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

Another purpose of this program is to help freshmen regain self-esteem after a difficult first year at MIT. Freshmen can learn to polish communication skills while establishing future work contacts, Hughes said.

"We see this as a unique opportunity for alumni to have a positive mentoring effect on a group of students who will, in turn, make a change in malaise and disaffection of many MIT students with what is happening to them at the Institute," said Program Director Arthur Steinberg, professor of anthropology.

Program attractive for companies

"The freshmen that I've talked to are very excited about the program, and the upperclassmen are wishing it was around for their freshman year," Hughes said.

"The alumni who are involved so far are also looking forward to the venture," Hughes said. At this point, Chairman of the Corporation Alexander V. D'Arbeloff '49, who also serves as head of Teradyne, has agreed to take six students this summer as interns, and Steinberg expects about 10 other alumni to participate in the program.

"Many alumni have asked how they can help the Institute in ways other than by giving money," he said.

Many forward-looking companies realize that their recruiting odds improve greatly if a relationship with the student is established during the school years, D'Arbeloff said. Generally, students are hired after sophomore year when they have declared a major and have some knowledge of the company's technology. "Steinberg proposes that the internship start after freshman year. This is different but still attractive to companies," he said.

Specifics of the program

Freshmen will be able to attain internships in engineering, science, and eventually policy, Steinberg said. The internships will be concentrated in the Boston and Back Bay areas and will include companies in northern California but will expand beyond these localities in the future, he said.

Besides taking on an internship, students will write a papers based on their observations and interactions with the workplace and give an oral presentation in the early fall following their internship. There will also be opportunities during Independent Activities Period and the spring term for students to prepare for their summer experience, Steinberg said.

Freshmen will need to apply to participate in the program, and Hughes hopes the application will be ready by the beginning of IAP. "We will then try to place [the students] with the appropriate alumni and companies, and then the freshmen will be interviewed by the companies," Steinberg said.

Steinberg said that he plans to begin the program with about 20 student interns. MIT or the individual companies sponsoring the internship will help students to find housing and coordinate transportation. Interns will also be paid as employees by the companies.

Faculty will lead a seminar for the alumni during IAP or on-site to define expectations of the program, Steinberg said. Faculty will also make several site visits during the summer to see that things are working smoothly, he said.

Internships reserved for freshmen

The Freshmen/Alumni Internship Program will not be expanded in the future to include participation of upperclassmen. "This program is only open to freshmen and is especially for freshmen. There are several engineering and political science internship programs which already exist for upperclassmen," Steinberg said.

One of the reasons the program is focused on freshmen is because many freshmen claim that they do not have satisfying freshman experiences, Hughes said. "We really want them to know that applying themselves at MIT or any other university is well worth the effort. This program will hopefully give freshmen a boost for the rest of their MIT experience, and on into the future," he said.

Steinberg hopes that these internships will be more educationally significant experiences than just summer jobs.

Any interested freshmen should e-mail Hughes at or