Berkeley Social Sciences launches comprehensive internship program to prepare students for meaningful careers

February 13, 2024

Berkeley Social Sciences launched a new program recently to better equip students for successful careers by giving them real-world experiences. The Social Sciences Career Readiness Internship Program (SSCRIP) prepares students for a variety of professions by offering skills workshops, personalized coaching, internship placement assistance, and stipends for unpaid and low-paid internships.

"Our responsibility towards the many students who come to Berkeley Social Sciences does not simply end with their graduation,” said Raka Ray, dean of Berkeley Social Sciences. “We want to help them find what they love to do and make a career of it. The Career Readiness Internship Program equips our students with hands-on experience, significantly boosting their job prospects and readiness to tackle real-world challenges even as they find their passion."

The program starts with a series of workshops that cover practical topics such as job applications, résumés, cover letters and interviews. Students will hear from Social Sciences leaders and gain insights from alumni panels; they will also have the opportunity to schedule individual coaching sessions through Berkeley Career Engagement.

Program origins

The idea for the Career Readiness Internship Program began in 2017 when anthropology alumnus Eddie Ring visited UC Berkeley to speak to a group of 35 students. As founder and CEO of a real estate firm, and as someone who had managed several career transitions, Ring wanted to help current students understand the full range of opportunities ahead of them — and how they could best position themselves for success. Over time, more Berkeley Social Sciences departments began to bring their alumni back so they could engage with students around career development. Seven years later, the Career Readiness Internship Program was born when donor funds were brought in under one umbrella to support Social Science students in the Division’s 15 departments and programs. The program’s goal is to deliver a student-focused curriculum, with the essential resources for counseling and mentorship.

A woman in a Cal hat and dark jacket smiles at a table during a workshop.

A student attends a workshop sponsored by the Career Readiness Internship Program (photo by UC Berkeley / Hagit Caspi).

Vision and mission

New graduates with internship experience have an advantage in a competitive job market, but some Berkeley students, especially those who are first in their families to attend college, are unable to take advantage of these opportunities during college because their financial challenges prevent them from accepting unpaid and underpaid positions. The Career Readiness Internship Program is designed to level the playing field in a competitive job market that prizes not just academic success but also internships. It will cover the cost of housing, local transportation and airfare for international internships, and ensure students with internships in the U.S. earn at least minimum wage.

For students like global studies major Katherine Rodriguez, the Career Readiness Internship Program was a game-changer. She was preparing to embark on a transformative internship with the CalEPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, but a sudden change in her financial situation left her scrambling to cover her expenses. The program removed her financial barriers, allowing her to participate in Cal-in-Sacramento, one of the University of California’s largest public service internship programs.

“This was a great exposure to public policy, and I would definitely pursue a life in public service after graduation,” said Rodriguez. “Everyone seems so sure that they can go far in graduate school and their careers, and that's just beginning for me. Being a part of this program helped me see myself on that same level.”

Khatharya Um, the Berkeley Social Sciences associate dean for DEIBJ and an ethnic studies professor, who leads the Career Readiness Internship Program, said Social Sciences developed the program to prepare and empower students to succeed on their own terms.

"The program will offer the necessary preparation and critical funding support for a diverse group of students beginning their careers in the public and private sectors,” Um said. “We are dedicated to building more pathways to connect our students with careers they are passionate about, and that will allow them to contribute to bringing about a more just and inclusive society and a better world.”

The program aims to have an outsized impact training tomorrow’s leaders, continuing a long tradition at Berkeley Social Sciences. The Division’s top-ranked departments and programs produce savvy alums who leave indelible marks on society as renowned economists, psychologists, sociologists, entrepreneurs and a myriad of professions that advance society.

This year’s cohort

Thanks to the generous support from donors and alumni, the 2023-24 pilot year’s cohort of 25 students includes students in African-American studies, cognitive science, ethnic studies, global studies, political economy, and sociology. The Career Readiness Internship Program plans to expand the number of participants and targeted majors in future years.

Students interested in the program can visit to learn more about the rules and prepare their application for next semester. Alums and donors can help the program reach scale by posting internship positions or making a gift to the Social Sciences Student Experience Fund.

Participants listen to a speaker during a professional development workshop.

Workshop participants listen to a speaker in January 2024 (photo by UC Berkeley / Hagit Caspi).

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