World of Work: Allie Tompkins '10, National Prison Project Intern for the ACLU Foundation

Allie Tompkins '10

Allie Tompkins ’10

National Prison Project Intern for the ACLU Foundation

Washington, DC

Major: Political Science/Global Studies

How would you describe what you do on a typical day?

As an intern, I come into the office 5 days a week for a half day. I answer letters from inmates writing the prison project for assistance, and I work with a paralegal to do research on policy and prison programs for the attorneys on staff at the National Prison Project.

What advice do you have for students searching for jobs or internships in your field?

Look for the jobs that really speak to what you are interested in. I applied to a ton of internships, but the two places I received offers from were the places I was most passionate about working at. I think this really stood out on my cover letter and during my interviews.

What motivates you to go to work every day for this organization?

Even though I’m an unpaid intern, I’m motivated to go to work every day because the ACLU puts into action what I was most passionate about learning at UVM, Constiutional Law. In our project, we represent prisoners and provide them with information. I think this is important because they are a truly underrepresented part of society and it requires a lot of viligance to make sure that their rights are being upheld in prison.

How did your time at UVM, both in and out of the classroom, prepare you for your position?

At UVM I became really interested in Constitutional Law, and the ACLU is one of the best places to gain experience in this field. During my interview the attorney I spoke with was very happy that I knew a lot about the federal courts appointment process, something that we spent a lot of time on in my Political Science senior seminar. Outside of the classroom at UVM, meeting so many critical thinkers and people who are willing to question the status quo and ask important questions has really influenced the way that I understand what I do at my internship and how I interact with the other people at my job.

What was your childhood dream job?

My childhood dream job was a Marine Biologist (wasn’t that everyone’s dream job at some point?), somewhere along the way I also wanted to be a doctor.

If you’re interested in seeing all our World of Work profiles, click here. If you are a UVM alumnus and would like to be featured, please contact us at If you are interested in contacting a featured alum, check out the Career Connection alumni database or contact us.

Guest Post: Networking and Partnerships

We’re glad to be able to open up this space to a guest blogger, Kailee Brickner-McDonald, a former practicum intern with Non-Profit Programs here at Career Services, for this Doing Good, Doing Well post. We are glad she was able to share this story of networking with us!

UVM’s Alternative Winter Break and Vermont Institute on the Caribbean–Partners since Career Services’ International Non-Profit Career Panel in 2009

In the spring of 2009, UVM Career Services hosted an International Non-Profit Career Panel. Similar to the networking panels offered this semester (link to calendar for those kinds of events), it brought together alumni and local employers in the non-profit field and students with all levels of interest.

Among the students who participated, Leondaro Badia, ’09, showed up. He shared how he was going to be interning with the Vermont Institute on the Caribbean (VIC) that summer. At the time, UVM Student Life’s Alternative Winter Break’s (AWB) leaders were looking for a new hosting community for their international service trip.  Talking with Leondardo about his connection to VIC’s Baseball Exchange Program through a service-learning class, it seemed like a good match for AWB. Thanks to the connection, AWB started to work with VIC. In the winter of 2010 the 11 UVM students on the AWB trip helped with the Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Kids initiative and a park building project with 4th and 5th graders in Los Dominguez, a marginalized neighborhood in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. This year another 11 UVM students returned to the same school to lead workshops on girls’ self-esteem and leadership. AWB plans to continue the partnership with the community and organization into the future.

Check out this photo of the 2011 Alternative Winter Break group in the park that the 2010 group helped to build:
2011 Alternative Winter Break Group

This fruitful connection at the International Non-Profit Career Panel demonstrates how “networking” is truly a community-building experience. Peer-to-peer student collaboration and information -sharing that night was just as important as the relationships which also began among employers, alumni, and students.


Service Learning Internships: Great Experience–and Credit!

Considering a summer or fall internship in the non-profit sector, but thinking you need to take a class instead because you need the credits? No need to choose! You can get the rich professional experience provided by an internship and earn between 1-12 credits through EDSS 239, the Service Learning Internship class.

What is the Service Learning Internship class and how does it work?

EDSS 239 offers you an opportunity to provide community service in conjunction with academic reflection, and earn credit for doing so! Positions are primarily in non-profit agencies and may be local, national or international. The course is offered in the fall, spring and summer for elective credit for students of all majors. Students may enroll for 1-12 credits, depending upon number of hours worked, and number of readings and reflections completed.

Students have completed Service Learning Internships at National Geographic, the Houston Hot Line, the office of Senator Patrick Leahy, Vermont Refugee Resettlement, Vermont Public Radio, Women’s Rape Crisis Center, Vermont State Parks, Chittenden County Public Defenders, the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts and in schools and programs in Africa, South America and the Pacific. It’s a great chance to create your own internship tailored to your interests and the skills you are hoping to build.

Best of all, you will have an opportunity to reflect and make meaning of your experience with others who are also involved in similar internships. In the words of one recent intern: “This was an amazing and enlightening experience and I am so glad I did this!”

Curious? Check out the process for enrolling in EDSS 239. Your first step will be obtaining an internship in the non-profit sector. For starting ideas on this, check out our Career Services website. For more ideas, stop by for our Drop In Hours, M-TH 1-4 pm, schedule an appointment.

More Recent Graduates Working in Non-Profits: Why Should You?

Last week, The New York Times published this article that talks about an unexpected consequence of the difficult economy: that more recent college graduates are working in the non-profit sector, or as they describe, “young college graduates who ended up doing good because the economy did them wrong.”

As a college student, I planned to work in a non-profit organization, and now as a career counselor I often talk with students interested in this field. I’m excited to hear about this trend. I see many students come in with a few misconceptions about work in nonprofits and wanted to address some of these in this post.

Myth #1: Only certain kinds of jobs exist in non-profits. It’s not for me.

Fact: All kinds of jobs exist in the non-profit sector!  In non-profits, there are all the same jobs as in the private sector, plus a few that are specific to non-profits, such as fundraisers and grant-writers. Non-profit jobs provide great work experience as well as a connection to a particular issue or cause. Check out this fun video from Non-Profit Careers Month, celebrated in October 2009:

Myth #2: I won’t make any money in a non-profit.

Fact: Entry-level non-profit salaries are often comparable to jobs in the private sector. In general, because non-profits have fewer resources they may have fewer staff—meaning that as an entry-level employee you might have more responsibility than in an entry-level private sector job. Not only can you get great experience this way, but it makes you a strong candidate for future career opportunities, whether in the non-profit or for-profit sector.

Myth #3: Looking for a job in the non-profit sector is exactly the same as looking for a private-sector job.

Fact: While the process is similar, there are several significant differences—for example, the non-profit field has its own language to consider when writing cover letters (for instance, you apply for a job at an organization, not a company). Additionally, be prepared to talk about your passion and connection to the mission of the organization—it’s not just about being able to do the job, but also about a commitment to helping the organization fulfill its mission. Find ways to communicate your commitment and personal connections to the mission; sometimes doing this while remaining professional can be a challenge—our career counselors are happy to help you figure this out.

Considering going into the Non-Profit World of Work? Check out these web resources:

10 things to know about applying for a nonprofit job

Idealist Career Center

Idealist Guide to Non-Profit Careers for First-Time Job Seekers (free e-book, also available hard copies for purchase)

Idealist Guide to Non-Profit Careers for Sector Switchers and people at mid-career (free e-book, also available hard copies for purchase)

Doing Good, an article on Full-Time Service Programs

Non-Profit Fellowship Programs

You might also be interested in this video, titled “How to Start Working in the Non-Profit Sector.” It features an  interview with Kerry Connor, national recruitment director for Jumpstart, a national non-profit organization that focuses on early intervention for at-risk preschoolers.


Making a Life Worth Living

Are you interested in creating a life with meaning while making a difference?  You are in good company! Students in Global and Regional Studies 95 (Fall 2010) explored Right Livelihood, personal missions and putting their values into action on a daily basis.  Here are some actions and resources that inspired them into living by their beliefs and convictions.

At Home

Right Livelihood is a Buddhist concept of earning a living in an ethical, values-based manner.  In other words, using your values as a lens for making decisions about your work and actions in the world.

Putting that into play, GRS95 came up with principles of Right Livelihood at UVM :

  • LOVE: Combine Passion and Love – what matters most to you
  • POSITIVE: Offer contagious positivity
  • RESPECT: Create respectful relations with others and the earth
  • COMMITMENT Take a stand for something you believe in, leading by example
  • COMMUNITY: Prioritize community & face-to-face relationships
  • CHALLENGE: Accept the challenge of overcoming adversities, not letting fear get in your way

Out In The World

Living by our convictions has a ripple effect that spreads beyond our own lives.  And sometimes we need to look beyond our doorstep for inspiration and camaraderie. Here are some connections from the world at large:


The Right Livelihood Award Outstanding vision and work on behalf of our planet and its people.

Yes! Magazine Powerful Ideas, Practical Actions Connecting people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.

Worldpulse Global issues through the eyes of women.

Storycorps Every voice matters.

Making It Real:

Life doesn’t begin once you graduate.  Clarifying who you are, what matters to you and putting it into action each day is important.  With so much information coming at us each day and so many demands on our time and attention, it is important to be thoughtful about where we put our energy.   Developing a vision and taking action can assist you in navigating and creating a life you want to live.  Here are some steps:

  1. CREATE a mission statement
  2. ACT – life is now, not just once you graduate – take actions daily that matter
  3. CONNECT  – build connections with people who inspire you