Each year, Hollins sophomores, juniors, and seniors can apply for an exceptional array of internships through the university’s Signature Internship Program. Sponsored by Hollins alumnae in a variety of fields and available during the January Short Term, these internships carry academic credit and offer a stipend of $300. Housing is often provided.
Jonea Mathis ’23 so impressed her supervisor during her 2021 J-Term signature internship that she was asked to stay on with the organization this spring.
The communication studies major interned remotely with Peace Boat US, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization headquartered at the United Nations Plaza in New York City. Through educational programs and experiences intended to inspire positive action in a number of areas, including social justice, the environment, and nuclear disarmament, Peace Boat US works to promote a culture of peace and sustainability through voyages around the globe.
“I was specifically looking for opportunities for communication studies majors,” Mathis recalled. “When I saw Peace Boat US on the list of available signature internships, it seemed like an interesting organization. I did some research on my own and decided I really wanted to work for them.”
Mathis also thought the organization had a familiar ring to it. She discovered that her academic advisor, Associate Professor of Communication Studies Vladimir Bratic, had served as a guest educator with Peace Boat as part of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict. The connection between Hollins and Peace Boat US over the years has been reinforced by the fact that the organization has hosted Hollins student interns for a number of J-Terms.
“We truly appreciate all the support from Hollins students each year,” said Emilie McGlone, director of Peace Boat US. “Our intern team is a key part of our mission to educate young people, raise awareness about important global issues, and create a more peaceful future for all.”
In 2020, Peace Boat US launched a virtual internship program so that students could work online and participate in United Nations conferences and events from home. “I got used to a virtual internship faster than I expected,” Mathis said. “I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to keep up, but my supervisor was very helpful and we were in constant communication. I was encouraged to speak up for myself and I learned a lot.” She played a vital role in Peace Boats US’s social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and also engaged in grant research and writing. As an important nuclear weapon prohibition treaty was going into effect, Mathis was actively involved in the effort to share news and information by writing articles for the Peace Boat US blog.
“It has been a pleasure to work with Jonea this year,” McGlone said, “and thanks to her support as an intern, we invited her to continue working with us into the spring semester.”
“I thought that sounded really good,” Mathis said of the opportunity to serve as the organization’s coordinating intern. She works closely with five new interns who joined Peace Boat US in February. “After my classes are done I look in to see what everyone else has been doing and make sure that we are all on the same page and things are getting done in the way I know our supervisor wants them to be done,” she explained. “I’m really happy I have worked with them as long as I have, and listing this internship on my résumé as extending beyond J-Term will be good.”
As a result of her Peace Boat US experience, Mathis is making international travel a priority in her future educational and career plans. While at Hollins she wants to take advantage of study abroad opportunities. In addition, she is already exploring global experiences post-graduation, including the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET), which allows young professionals to live and work in cities, towns, and villages throughout Japan and represent the U.S. as cultural ambassadors, and Peace Boat US’s Global English/Español Training Program (GET), where students are inspired to use language to make connections around the world. Mathis is minoring in Spanish and hopes to be fluent in the language by the time she graduates from Hollins.
“I just want to see the world and learn from people in a conscious way, and that’s something this internship has really helped me to see,” Mathis said.
For McGlone, Mathis’ internship demonstrates the partnership between Peace Boat US and Hollins is stronger and more productive than ever. “We look forward to having more Hollins students join us in the future as we continue to create opportunities to gain first-hand experience that can help them find meaningful work that they are passionate about.”