Data Internships for Social Good Thanks to data.org!
Data science is one of the driving forces behind development of policies, laws, and decision-making strategies. Data.org focuses on “democratizing data, for good.” The NC State Data Science Academy (DSA) was awarded $106,950 to build internship opportunities for students that focus on social impact. The funders are especially interested in building capacity in rural areas and broadening participation in data science.
A new DSA course, Data Internships for Social Good, prepares students for internships in government, nonprofit and community-serving organizations by providing guidance on seeking and applying for internships. Students learned about the course and various organizations seeking interns at the Data Science Academy all-campus Career Expo. At the expos each semester, students can develop their resume, interview skills, and connect with potential employers.
The new course attracts students who want to make a difference in the world through a data science internship. They learn how to administer data.org’s data maturity tool which can guide constructive conversations at the internship site about data usage in the social good context. The course helps students develop and refine their interviewing skills, build professional and personal networks, and engage with job applications. Students also complete a mini-research project for a local organization to help them practice data problems related to social impact.
The 400-level data science course for undergraduates requires some previous data science related experience or knowledge. Professor Tracey Appling states, “The Data Internship for Social Good course ensures students have a career-ready portfolio for the internship and/or job search. Students will explore data sets and gain familiarity with tools that will prepare them for a data-related internship with a not-for-profit agency.”
In addition to social impact related courses, the grant provides funds for the DSA to send students to the Summer Lab at the Data Science Institute at the University of Chicago (UChicago). Students of varying data science backgrounds, skill levels, and interests are brought together to solve a data challenge based on social impact. Jasmine Hope attended from NC State in the summer of 2022 and presented her social impact findings after 2 months of training and research. Three students will be invited to attend in summer 2023.
As part of the grant, the NC State DSA has joined the Capacitor Accelerator Network, which includes the 8 institutions on the map below. The network supports each other in the development of their data science programs, especially topics related to social impact, experiential learning and financial inclusion.
Democratizing data skills and investing in social impact organizations’ capacity to be data-driven will lead to transformative change. The Capacity Accelerator Network (CAN) works to increase skills and support organizations, enabling them to unlock the power of data to meet their missions. (data.org, 2022) Through this grant the DSA hopes to create more opportunities for students to engage in data science and social good to potentially explore career opportunities they may not have considered. For additional information about CAN and data.org visit the data.org website.