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Columbia University School of Professional Studies Announces Career Catalyst Internship Program

Columbia University School of Professional Studies in partnership with the Center for Justice is proud to announce a bold new initiative that will provide valuable work experience to young people from underserved communities who face further challenges due to involvement within the justice system. 

The Career Catalyst Internship Program (CCIP) will provide economically disadvantaged and justice system-impacted young New Yorkers with meaningful work experience at the University. The goal is to help prepare CCIP interns for sustained and fulfilling employment.

“We are excited and honored to launch this internship program in partnership with the Center for Justice,” said Troy Eggers, Dean of Columbia University School of Professional Studies. “It will be another significant way for the School to provide a path to Columbia and its resources for New York City communities that historically have not had access to the University.”

The formal 14-week paid internship program includes work experience, professional development workshops, networking opportunities, and one-to-one career mentoring in SPS’ three divisions: Academic Affairs, Administrative Affairs and Communications, and Student Affairs.

“This program is designed to provide interns with hands-on work experience,” said Zelon Crawford, Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs at SPS. “But in addition to developing new skills, we also want our interns to feel seen and valued in the workplace.”

This program is an extension of the Center for Justice’s established Justice Ambassador Youth Council, which was founded in 2014 by three women, two of whom were formerly incarcerated. This year, ten young people ranging in age from 18 to 25 are enrolled in the Justice Ambassador Youth Council. They hail from some of the most under-resourced neighborhoods in New York City, including Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Harlem, Kingsbridge, and South Jamaica. 

"Justice Ambassadors is not just an opportunity for young people to advocate for the creation of holistic policy solutions, it is a platform for them to work collaboratively with government executives to co-develop and implement their jointly authored policy interventions,” said Jarrell Daniels (‘22GS), founder and executive director for the Justice Ambassador Youth Council.

Starting in January 2024, eight of the Justice Ambassadors will work as CCIP interns in various capacities at the School of Professional Studies. The other two Justice Ambassadors are students at Columbia University School of General Studies; one is studying sociology, and the other is majoring in psychology. 

“Far too often, the lack of opportunities for those who have been involved in the justice system gets in the way of a successful future,” said Geraldine Downey, director of the Center for Justice and board advisor to the Justice Youth Ambassadors program. “This program is one way to ensure that the interns will have a path to employment.”