For the past two years, Ariel Ferreira ’24 has been exploring her idea for a social venture to use carpentry and building trades as a tool to help those who are impoverished. This summer, she gained firsthand experience that deepened her commitment to her goal through The John and Kendra Malloy Social Venture Scholars internship program.
From May through August, Ferreira interned at Amos House, a holistic social services organization serving people who are without housing and those who are economically challenged throughout Providence, R.I., and surrounding communities.
“My long-term goal is to have a career path where I can work toward creating innovative change to help diminish poverty and income inequality. I firmly believe that this experience is one of my first steps down this path as I am learning more about the population I hope to work with on a firsthand, day-to-day basis,” said Ferreira, a business and management and political science double major.
“The internship helped me affirm that this impact area is the path I want to pursue and has given me the preliminary knowledge and insights that I need to know to interact within and serve populations and groups that are devastated by economic disparities,” she said.
The new full-time, paid internship program, in partnership with Providence-based Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG), places Wheaton students in summer internships with entrepreneurial ventures having a social impact.
As a workforce development intern at Amos House, Ferreira said she researched and developed ways for Amos House to further strengthen existing employment, career and training pathways and build the internal capacity to explore new areas of employment and training. In addition to collaborating with Amos House staff members, president and CEO Eileen Hayes and an external community development consultant, Ferreira also interacted with clients seeking services.
In addition to providing shelter, food and social services, Amos House also offers employment and financial assistance and training programs, including a building trades program.
The organization provided the perfect opportunity for Ferreira to gain experience to continue to develop her business idea and to get a true sense of the nature of the work, she said.
“The biggest challenge I faced during my time there was something I expected—the emotionally hard nature of this field,” she said. “It’s hard to see so many people struggling at the hands of economic inequality on a day-to-day basis. While hearing the tough experiences our guests are going through is never easy, I found refuge in knowing that the services being offered through Amos House are actually making a direct, powerful impact.”
“Knowing and seeing the success stories of the guests who have taken the opportunities Amos House offers empowered me to do the best work I could do for them during my time there,” said Ferreira, president of the Social Impact and Innovation Club at Wheaton and program management assistant to the chair of social entrepreneurship.