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Kenneth Cole Community Action Program @ Columbia University


I have learned an incredible amount about New York City neighborhoods, non-profit organizations and how the two work together to achieve tangible results in the community.  Wherever my future career takes me, I would like to carry CIVITAS’ dedicated example as proof that active citizen engagement can lead to real, noticeable changes within a bustling city.”

-Hannah Diaz, Urban Planning Intern, CIVITAS


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Program Overview

The Kenneth Cole Community Action Program @ Columbia University provides students with a New York-based internship in the field of civic engagement and not-for-profit. Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference.

The Kenneth Cole Community Action Program @ Columbia University (formerly "Columbia Communities in Action - CCIA"), in partnership with the Center for Career Education (CCE) and Student Engagement, began in 2008 as a new way to engage students in the community while developing key transferable skills. Today, the program is also run in partnership with Kenneth Cole. With the support of career counseling professionals, students are able to identify and develop personal and professional goals. As part of the program, participants take part in networking events, training workshops and educational programming designed to help explore career opportunities in civic engagement throughout the Spring semester.

Participants intern with a not-for-profit organization that will allow them to simultaneously build skills and gain experience while contributing to a cause they feel passionate about. Students work in a variety of different roles from research to project management to fundraising and development. The possibilities to utilize and apply skills are endless in this field. To get a better understanding of the variety of opportunities available through this program, please read the Student Experiences section below.

The following are a small sampling of industry areas in which students have interned through the program:

Immigrant Rights Women's Health Urban/Community Improvement
Youth Development  
Legal Advocacy Public policy       
Environmental Issues LGBT Rights
Corporate Responsibility Education Faith based/Spiritual organizations Child & Family Services

Program Features

The Kenneth Cole Community Action Program @ Columbia University is a combination of internship experience at a not-for-profit organization, peer connections with other program interns and career development and support with career counseling professionals. Program features include the following: 

  • Pre-program training that includes program overview, self assessment exercises, and goal setting workshops with the support of a career counseling professional.
  • Twelve-week internship for 10-20 hours per week during the Spring semester. 
  • Mid-semester dinner with other interns to discuss and debrief on internship experiences.
  • One-on-one career counseling appointments throughout the twelve weeks to support and enhance the internship experience.
  • End of Program Reflection Session that includes evaluation of the internship experience, goal attainment analysis, resume workshop and interview coaching. 
  • Networking events, fairs and workshops in the field of non-profit and civic engagement.

Program Benefits

Upon completion of the Kenneth Cole Community Action Program @ Columbia University, students will have gained a richer understanding of civic engagement and the not-for-profit industry. Students will have learned about the wide variety of roles involved in not-for-profit work and had several opportunities to network with individuals currently working in the field.  Additionally, students will have acquired professional skills such as research, effective communication, problem solving, time management and project management. With the support of a career counseling professional, students will also be able to articulate their experience through goal setting exercises, understanding transferable skills they have gained, and reflecting upon their internship experience appropriately.

"Ultimately, my time at Lambda Legal assisted me in deciding what I wanted to do as a career. As a Political Science and History major, I've had extensive training in political theories on organization and historical accounts of social movement...However, I've never has the chance to work first hand at one. The internship complimented my studies well by showing me how to conduct fieldwork and how a non-profit movement organization functions. I was able to learn how to practically apply what I've learned."

- Andrew Wright, 2013 Intern, Lambda Legal


The application period is now closed. Please check back for Spring 2017 opportunities in Fall 2016.

Student Experiences 

Intern Cecilia Hackerson worked as a Community Organizing Intern at Goddard Riverside Community Center SRO Law Project. Check out Cecilia's informative reflection about the challenges she faced and knowledge she gained.
Jacquelyn Kovarik Intern Jacquelyn Kovarik was so inspired by the activism and dedication to service at the All Stars Project in New York City that she plans to stay involved. Read more about her experience here.

Joanna Kelly worked as an intern for the development department of the Vera Institute of Justice. The Vera Institute is a non-profit organization that partners with governmental organizations and leaders in civil society to improve the justice systems in our country. For more about Joanna's experience read here. Intern Sarah Zimmerman gained first hand experience in urban planning through her work as an Urban Planning Intern at CIVITAS. Check out Sarah's creative storify about her internship experience. 

An energized blogger, Ayushe Misra, writes about her experience at Reach the World (RTW)! RTW is a STEM-based, global education program to connect students in classrooms with scholars traveling around the world. As an intern, she was able to explore careers in education, marketing, and public relations. Read about her experience here.

Ariela Wallace reflects on her internship experience at the Interfaith Center of New York. As the outreach intern, her primary responsibilities included assistance with the expansion of the “Reentry Family and Faith Circles of Support.” Check out her wonderful work with the East Harlem community here.

As the Community Mobilization and Education Intern, Maria Martinez certainly made a difference through the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) where she established meaningful connections and became part of the community! NLIRH is focused on increasing efforts to serve Latinas and women of color in their access to reproductive health. Read more about Maria’s experience here.

Anne Chen reflects on her internship experience at America Needs You, a non-profit organization dedicated to provide first-generation, low-income college students with support in professional development.  She enjoyed her experience so much that she decided to extend her time beyond her original commitment! Read more here.


Information Sessions

Please attend one information session to learn more about the Kenneth Cole Community Action Program @ Columbia University as well as other CCE Spring Internship Programs (CAE, SIP, and VIP).

Monday, October 12, 2015
12:00pm - 1:00pm
CCE Conference Room
Register Now

Tuesday, October 20, 2015
5:00pm - 6:00pm
CCE Conference Room
Register Now

Apply Now

Eligibility/Application Process
Frequently Asked Questions

Program Contacts

If you have questions about this program, please feel free to contact:

Peter Cerneka
Associate Director, Office of Student Engagement

Laura Maltz
Associate Director, Center for Career Education (CCE)

If you are an employer interested in hosting a student through the Kenneth Cole Community Action Program @ Columbia University, please contact:

Vernon Gibbs
Associate Director, Alumni Outreach