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Experiences & Internships
Experiential learning opportunities like internships, part-time positions, projects, contract and freelance-based work help you build valuable skills and assess your interest in pursuing the work full time. These hands-on opportunities also help you expand your professional network, which is key in a successful job search. As a graduate student or postdoctoral scholar, your time is limited and valuable; here are a few programs and resources that offer creative ways to develop your skills.
UT and Community Partner Programs
Engage with companies and organizations to have an impact and solve workplace issues while gathering professional skills and experiences.
The CONNECT Program seeks to activate learning from data and build both capacity and interest in greater data, measurement, and evaluation capacity within community organizations. The program achieves this through personalized, high-touch intake with nonprofit organizations who have data and evaluation projects, recruitment of skilled graduate students (master’s and doctoral) at the University of Texas, student fellowships to recognize program participation, an online platform and matching to ensure a good fit between organization and student, and customized project support leading to high-quality, actionable deliverables.
Longhorn Impact Fellowship at Texas McCombs (LIFT) Program
The Longhorn Impact Fellowship at Texas McCombs, or LIFT, pairs student consultants (Fellows) with sustainable corporations, social enterprises, and nonprofits to solve an impact-focused problem. Projects are completed in 10-12 weeks, and must be related to sustainability, corporate philanthropy, impact/ESG investing, or social and environmental innovation. Past projects created impact measurement tools for a corporate foundation, examined new markets for a social business’ entry, and examined the sustainability of funding sources. LIFT is selective and is open only to UT-Austin juniors, seniors, and graduate students.
Texas Venture Labs
Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs (JBTVL) is a campus-wide initiative to accelerate startups in taking their innovations to market and to transform graduate students into entrepreneurs and business leaders. The JBTVL Practicum is a cross-campus elective course that teaches graduate students how to work with and consult with startups. The JBTVL Accelerator provides an opportunity for Texas startups to take their ventures to the next level with the unique benefit of leveraging UT resources and talent. The TVL Investment Competition (TVLIC) mimics the real-world process of raising venture capital for student startups.
Capacity Catalyst connects with nonprofits and other types of social sector partners for hosted externships specifically for data, research, and evaluation. We identify and connect talented, early career researchers to nonprofit organizations for part-time hosted externships. Externs provide key internal resources and technical expertise to their nonprofit hosts, and receive ongoing peer-based and professional support from the Capacity Catalyst team, preparing them for a career of impact.
Blackstone LaunchPad is a program that helps students of all backgrounds navigate the UT entrepreneurship ecosystem. Think of us as the Google Maps for everything entrepreneurship on campus and in Austin. We educate students on the startup resources available to them on campus and beyond, provide physical space for coworking and small events, connect students to startup mentors, and provide access to opportunities through outside partners – especially the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars.
Crowdsourcing provides a way for companies and organizations to work on an issue or project, utilizing a large group of people to contribute to a solution with limited overhead. This model supports a large array of skills and expertise from freelance workers in a quick, efficient, and typically virtual manner. Engage in this type of project-based work to gather industry experience, expand your network, and contribute to your professional development.
UT Austin is not partnered or affiliated with any of the sites listed. Please use discretion when perusing opportunities, paying particular attention to intellectual property, compensation, privacy, and ethical guidelines for each site.
InnoCentive is an open innovation and crowdsourcing company enabling organizations to put unsolved problems and unmet needs out to the crowd to address.
MindSumo is an online marketplace where students solve real-world corporate challenges.
Parker Dewey is a network of highly motivated career launchers and business professionals working together to find paid opportunities for students that help companies effectively complete tasks and improve hiring.
Challenge.gov is a web-based platform that assists federal agencies with inviting ideas and solutions directly from the public.
Kaggle is an online community of data scientists and machine learning practitioners that allow users to find and publish data sets, explore and build models in a web-based data-science environment, work with other data scientists and machine learning engineers, and enter competitions to solve data science challenges.
Top Coder is a platform with an open global community of designers, developers, data scientists, and competitive programmers that pays community members for work on projects and sells community services to corporate, mid-size, and small-business clients.
Job simulations are virtual platforms designed to immerse you into a field by performing job tasks and solving issues that exist in a real work environment. Explore careers actively and efficiently with this type of experience and gain key insights into various fields and industries of interest. While simulations are not meant to replace a “hands-on” internship, these projects can help you determine what type of internship experience and/or career you would like to pursue.
InterSECT is an online platform that allows PhD-level scientists and humanists, regardless of professional stage, to explore future career options by working on actual work projects and deliverables and evaluating interest and enjoyment in the work.
Create Your Own Experience
A traditional internship model may not be a good fit for everyone, especially advanced degree students and scholars who have demanding schedules and responsibilities. It is also important to note that not all internships or experiential learning opportunities are formally advertised. If you are interested in gaining hands-on experience and enhancing your professional skillset, be proactive and consider approaching companies and organizations with ideas for a unique type of internship that can be mutually beneficial.