The year 1999 marked the beginning of two new eras: the new millennium and the beginning of the Franklin C. Ash Summer Internship Program at JEVS Human Services. Frank Ash turned 60 years old and had a unique wish at his birthday party: instead of the typical material presents, he asked his friends and family to help him in the creation of a summer internship program for Jewish college students with an interest in working for a Jewish nonprofit in the Greater Philadelphia metropolitan area. The program would also facilitate activities to help the students deepen their engagement in the Jewish community and prepare the students to take their first steps into the professional world with career services and job shadowing opportunities. With the help of his friends and JEVS, the Ash program has touched the lives of over 200 students over 22 summers.
Typically, the Ash internship program required students to reside in Philadelphia for the duration of the program; this changed in 2020 when COVID-19 swept across the globe, forcing everyone into lockdown. The Ash program persevered virtually, marking another milestone in its lifetime. Surprisingly, the pandemic continued through summer 2021, as did the virtual version of the program.
Four days a week, 15 students from all over the United States worked for a variety of Jewish nonprofits: American Jewish Community, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Challah for Hunger, HIAS, JEVS Human Services (Communications and Social Impact Departments, EduConnect program, and Looking Forward program), Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and Jewish Family & Children’s Services. The remaining weekday allowed the interns to come together and connect over their work experiences and their Jewish heritage, as well as attend a variety of workshops. They baked challah virtually, learned how to combat anti-Semitism in a workshop with ADL, connected with Pennsylvania elected officials in a government panel, and heard a first-hand account from Holocaust survivor, Peter Stern, after virtually touring the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center.
Meeting virtually did not prevent them from gaining valuable professional development as well; the students prepared their résumés with JEVS Career Strategies staff, practiced interviewing for real-life jobs with JEVS HR Department, and they also “met” with professionals across the U.S. for informational interviews about their career paths. As always, the highlight of the program was a “breakfast meeting” with program namesake and founder Frank Ash; the students fielded questions from Mr. Ash about how they envisioned themselves making the world a better place.
While the Ash program may have looked a bit different in recent years, it’s core values have not changed: providing students with the opportunity to make a difference at Philadelphia Jewish nonprofits, preparing them for post-graduate professional life, and helping them connect with their Jewish heritage.
JEVS and the 2021 cohort extend their thanks to founder Mr. Franklin C. Ash, the Ash Family Foundation and many others who provided another transformative year for this year’s participants.
If you would like information about applying for next summer’s Ash Summer Internship Program, and you’ll be a rising college junior or senior in Fall 2022, contact AshInternship@jevs.org.