Field Work Term, Student News

Notes from the Field: 2020

From expanding Population Health research at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center to supporting refugees resettling in Idaho to creating puppets for stop-motion films in Denmark, Bennington students made a worldwide impact across myriad disciplines this Field Work Term. 

Photo of three people around posterboard

During January and February 2020, 504 students completed winter Field Work Term internships with 390 employers in 31 US states and 42 countries. An additional 57 students pursued independent studies, using the time to prepare advanced research or entrepreneurial activities in their chosen discipline. 

This summer, 106 students will complete Field Work Term internships, a flexible summer deferral option that supports the 10% of Bennington students who seek experiences in STEM fields, particularly those who are pursuing competitive Research Experiences for Undergraduates.

Field Work Term experiences included

  • Arizona State University Center for Gender Equity in Science & Technology + Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, where Nosizo Lukhele ’22 assessed, designed, implemented, and evaluated diverse and inclusive participation in biodiversity conservation fields.
     
  • MASS MoCA, where Gabriela Yadegari ’21 developed curriculum for public school visits, MoCA summer camps, and gallery tours.
     
  • University of California-Riverside's Brain Game Center, where Savannah Hernandez ’21 and Alyssa Trevino ’21 designed games and tests to better train people who have difficulty with memory skills.
     
  • FX Network, where Anna Demchenko ’20 worked as a production assistant on Fargo, produced by Erik Holmberg '86.
     
  • Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, where Phoenix Stoddard ’21 studied behavioral planning, management, and tracking for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
     
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music, where Mira Maxwell ’23, Sydnie Hyams ’22, and Tulsi Anna ’22 explored and organized BAM’s archives.

Local Impact

In January and February 2020, 35 students completed Field Work Terms in Bennington and North Bennington alone—and 16 more worked in Hoosick Falls, Cambridge, Williamstown, and other areas in the greater region. 

Field Work Term builds on the College's community connections. Over the past 6 years, Bennington students have worked for 94 Vermont businesses and not-for-profits—including 50 in the Bennington area alone—contributing approximately 42,400 hours of work.

Regional Field Work Term experiences included

  • Mohit K C ’23, Bryce Sullivan ’22, Desire Chimanikire ’23, Kevin Lionel Ndizaniye Mpundu ’23, and Ekaterina Burtseva ’20, who addressed local food insecurity through work with Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services (GBICS), Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, all partner organizations in Bennington College’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded work to address the systemic causes of food insecurity in Bennington County.
     
  • Noah Hanf ’23 and Olive Allen ’23, who produced Public Service Announcements on behalf of QueerConnect, Bennington’s first LGBTQ+ community advocacy group, where Sophie Nevin ’18 is a founding member.
     
  • Ahmad Yassir ’20 and Aleyah Austin ’20, who worked at Cynthia Reeves Gallery in North Adams, MA, and installed and curated the Bennington-Williams Student Exhibition held at the gallery.

Expanding Access

Paid Field Work Term fellowship opportunities continue to increase, offering higher average awards to more students. 

This year, Stanzin Angmo ’20, Ren Barnes ’22, Ekaterina Burtseva ’20, Elene Charkviani ’22, DaEun Jung ’21, and Ulysses Lin ’21 formed the inaugural cohort of the Population Health Fellowship at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. This fully-paid, health-related internship gave students the chance to explore and address population health, which transforms the healthcare model— in thinking about healthcare from seeing patients only when they are sick, to partnering with people to address their social, environmental, and economic issues before they become sick. 

Overall in 2020, 50 fellowships ranging from $1,000-$3,000 were awarded through five fellowships: the Newman Public Action Student Fellowship, Iftekhar Entrepreneurial Fellowship, Arts & Technology Fellowship, Lucille Lortel Theatre Foundation Fellowship, and Population Health Fellowship. 

Over the past two years, Bennington’s fellowship funding has nearly doubled. This amount will continue to grow with the upcoming pilot of The Endeavor Foundation Environmental Changemaker Fellowship, which will include funded internships for students to work in nonprofits with a focus on environmental justice.

Qualified, Passionate, and Capable

Between annual Field Work Term experiences, on-campus employment, summer internships, school-year jobs, and Federal Work Study opportunities, the majority of Bennington students will graduate having gained 10 work experiences over the course of their 4 years. Each work experience provides students an opportunity to test their classroom knowledge in the real world, build meaningful Capacities, reflect on and develop new interests, build their resumes, and shape their future goals and career paths. 

Additionally, Field Work Term continues to benefit not just Bennington students, but also employers at their host organizations. 

In 2020, 98% of employers indicated they were satisfied with their Bennington interns' work. 

Among Field Work Term employers who have also worked with interns from other colleges, 71% said that their Bennington intern's work was of higher quality compared to past interns from other colleges.

Field Work Term Employers Say

“Outstanding. She was devoted to the work and handled the long hours, constantly changing work environment, and difficult conditions with grace. She was excellent at engaging with new people and winning them over, was a hard worker, enthusiastic, passionate about the work, curious, and attentive.” —FX Fargo Producer Erik Holmberg ’86, about intern Anna Demchenko ’20

“She came to the internship with enthusiasm and a readiness to learn. She is intuitive and sensitive to the needs of the people we support, and has a knack for remembering details about certain interactions she had with people - a skill that is necessary as a clinician.” —Maureen Delaney, Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, about intern Phoenix Stoddard ’21

“She accomplished a great deal during the few weeks she was here; her work was on par with 1- to 2-year professional experienced engineers.” —Jared Torres, GameCo, about intern Delaine Abner ’21

Employers interested in partnering with Bennington College to offer Field Work Term positions within their organization are encouraged to visit the Recruit Bennington webpage for more information or to contact Sarah Clader, Associate Director of Field Work Term, at sarahclader@bennington.edu.