Hannah, third from the left, with her SIP team and their partners at Defy Ventures.

For my on-campus internship, I enrolled in MSB 491R: Social Innovations Projects through the Ballard Center. I got paired up with a team of four other students to work on a project for Defy Ventures, a non-profit organization that seeks to reduce recidivism. The experience was challenging but rewarding in multiple ways!

What was our project?

Our task was to create a new case management tool that Defy Ventures could use to help people released from prison have a smoother re-entry into society. Using similar principles from Poverty Stoplight, a program that helps reduce poverty, we created a chart with fifty different indicators, or goals, to help people released from prison have a successful re-entry back into their communities. The chart allows people to mark their progress concerning each specific goal, so that with some goals they may have made little progress, others they may be in the process of achieving the goal, and still with others they may have already completed the goal. Using the chart, they can know what steps they need to take next and they can recognize the progress they have already made.

What was our process? 

            To create the case management tool, we conducted both academic research and personal interviews. At the beginning of the semester, we were able to take a trip to California, where a branch of Defy Ventures is located, and interview around 35 individuals who are re-entering society. It was amazing getting to hear their stories and experiences. Using the information we learned from the interviews, we created a list of fifty indicators, or fifty goals, that reflects the needs that people have as they re-transition back into society. These goals include things related to housing, employment, transportation, education, technology, health, finances, relationships, spirituality, and self-improvement. We also completed academic research that confirmed that housing, employment, and other goals are key to a successful re-entry.

What did I learn from this experience?

            This internship has taught me a lot! One of the main lessons I learned from this experience is that people are so much more than a stereotype that the world has given them. Everyone has talents and can contribute to society. I was also given opportunities to learn greater teamwork and communication skills. Working on a group project was a challenge for me! But I learned that more can be accomplished when people work together, and that one key to working well together is effective communication. Another part of teamwork is utilizing everyone’s unique talents and strengths, because we all have different ones. One person’s talent benefits the whole team. In addition, I learned that the business school is a very different world than the Humanities world, and that’s okay. There are business principles that I can apply to my life and my education, and there are also strengths that come from being an English major that can be utilized in the workplace.

What was the most rewarding aspect of this internship?

            Going to California and conducting in-person interviews with individuals who have been released from prison was an amazing experience. Society has these negative stigmas related to people who have committed crimes and been in prison that are punitive and often untrue. The stereotypes our society has of criminals hold people back who have made mistakes in the past and these same stereotypes do not even come close to telling the full story of these individuals’ lives. I loved interviewing them and hearing their stories. I loved how our project was ultimately designed to help a group of people that are often neglected by society, even if my role in it was small. Overall, this internship has been a very rewarding experience, because it gave me hope and direction for the future- there is life after BYU! And we really can “enter to learn and go forth to serve.”

Find our more about Social Innovations Projects at power.byu.edu.

Approved On-Campus Internship Programs meet the English+ requirement. Talk to the internship coordinator for more details.

Written by byuenglishinternships