Internships and Community Engaged Learning at Friends for a NonViolent World

A Learning Organization: Providing a Framework for Student Volunteers
Friends for a NonViolent World withholds a longstanding, commitment to being a “learning organization.” This type of grounding allows us to consider candidates beyond credentials, which can often indicate access rather than potential. We prioritize considerations of the character, passion, and commitment (or openness to) nonviolence of student candidates. This also helps to spread the mission of FNVW by offering nonviolence training and resources to people who have not had other opportunities to consider or work within a nonviolence framework.



Historical Context for this form of incorporation
While FNVW has a long history of working with student interns, the current structure for incorporating student volunteers began in the Fall of 2016. The choice to work with the current structuring was a result of an organizational desire to increase, diversify, and to incorporate more youth in FNVW’s base and to increase our capacity.
This structuring gave, and gives us the opportunity to have people give us feedback from a younger perspective and think through different viewpoints than we had access to before.

Purpose of Service Learning and Internship Participation
Broadly, FNVW views its role as being a part of a journey for these students, and as one hoping to support them and to develop their nonviolence literacy. It is hoped that engaging with (mostly, but not exclusively) young folks in this way may also help to grow and diversify the base of the organization, but no expectation is placed upon Service Learners and Interns.
Specifically, FNVW seeks to connect with others and invest in their potential while building the capacity of the organization and supporting volunteer teams in areas current volunteers are unable to do.

Engaging Future Social Workers: Additional Expectations and Considerations
Many of FNVW’s Internships are offered to Social Work students. Social work students have been especially considered for these internships because social work inherently deals with violence. In other words, social work students can expect to see violence in their careers more than other professions. FNVW then hopes to maximize impact by equipping future Social Workers to think about how they can contribute to eradicate violence throughout their careers. It is also believed that there is need among social work students in the state of Minnesota as over ¾ of possible candidates consistently apply to our limited internship roles, which are the only (mezzo)/ macro-level social work internship roles in the state. Social work students must be supervised by a licensed social worker.
When the organization has capacity, special effort is made to consider motivated Intern candidates who may have difficulty garnering this type of experience due to lack of previous experience or skills which might require additional supervision or support.

Matching with Students & Student Qualifications
Students are identified through college/university partners. Often times we are able to speak to classes with service learning requirements in which students have multiple approved organizations from which to interview with. FNVW interviews interested students in order to determine if student interests and skills align with FNVW needs. The only requirement to work at FNVW is that students are committed to nonviolence or are open to learn.

Determining Student Work: Distinguishing Longer-Term and Student Volunteers
Because Interns and Service Learners volunteer with us on a shorter-term basis, longer-term or more permanent volunteers have priority in choosing the work that calls to them. This means that the work of student volunteers is determined first by the needs of the organization in terms of gaps between what volunteers are able and willing to do and what needs to be done. Special attention is paid to balancing what the organization needs to, or is committed to doing, and what each individual student has joy or interest in doing or learning. Students are most often nervous during the informal interview process, so passions are often determined in-process of students working here rather than assigned immediately.

Supervision Considerations
It is a priority of FNVW that internship and service learning relationships are beneficial to Student Learners. With this in mind, capacity to supervise is always considered in determining when, which, and how many students are placed. Currently, supervision is determined by the projects or programs students are working on and the capacity of staff to supervise them. Supervisors are asked to have self-awareness in terms of their individual work styles and personalities in relation with their supervisees. Each role description posted might include a “a student who would be best for this job is…” section personalized to the supervisor of the role.