IAP Project Resource


What is an IAP Social Impact Internship?

January/IAP (or the Independent Activities Period) is a 4 week break period for MIT students between the Fall and Spring semesters. Students often use IAP as a time to engage in experiential learning that they don’t have the bandwidth for during the term. January/IAP Social Impact Internships are great for discrete project-based opportunities where students can dig into a specific topic or challenge and hand back a deliverable to the host site at the end of the month.

Social Impact Interns can:
  • Fill a skill gap on a specific project
  • Build your team’s capacity
  • Tackle that back burner project (finally!)
  • Take a deep dive into a research project
  • Provide a unique perspective on an organizational challenge
What can a student really accomplish in just 4 weeks? 
  • Take disparate historical data, compile and clean it in Excel, analyze it, and create a sustainable system for updating the dataset moving forward
  • Conduct a program assessment and provide recommendations for improvement
  • Connect data from different systems to create a dynamic dashboard with data visualizations in systems like PowerBI, Looker Studio, and Tableau
  • Analyze, update, and automate a manual process to save time and energy
  • Conduct research on a topic and present findings for various stakeholders
Sample IAP projects:

Data + Tech Intern @ The Engine Room

“I analyzed data from this program to see how The Engine Room can provide balanced support across regions and sectors… By writing Python scripts to make histograms, pie-charts, and choropleth heatmaps, I was able to organize the data better and see trends… This interactive visual data dashboard makes it easier for non-technical people to understand and interact with the data of The Engine Room, from the company’s management to future partners.” 

-Gwyn Margaux Tangog, ‘26, Course 6-Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Full website: https://lits-analyst.onrender.com/ 

Read more about Gwyn’s experience here

“Working with Gwyn during the internship was a fantastic experience. The tool Gwyn developed has helped us to analyze trends related to the number of partners we support over time and by region. This tool and its functionality has refined our ability to visualize these trends, making our data analysis more efficient and insightful.”

-Lesedi Bewlay, The Engine Room

Data Strategy Intern

“One problem my organization faced was the many different places data was hosted without an established system to connect the data. As teachers and staff had more urgent tasks and responsibilities, they did not have the time and may not have been familiar with some tools to organize the historical data. My work focused on connecting diverse streams of data on a dynamic dashboard to create data visualizations and investigate correlations between factors in student success (attendance, demographics, internships, etc) in Python, Excel, and Looker Studio. I spent some time reformatting the data into one spreadsheet, using formulas and queries to clean the data. I then created the visualization dashboard that sets up user controls to answer new questions and allows users to automatically integrate new data, providing a robust system for future use.”

-Anna Li, ‘26, Course 6-Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Market Analyst @ Four Corners Main Streets

“I look for support that helps us build capacity. [Our intern’s] work did just that, updating our access to more up-to-date demographic data for our neighborhood, along with a template for quickly accessing that similar data going forward. Similarly, he helped us build a broader set of information about our commercial district, the value of its real estate and ownership, including live links that will give us real time information. This work is valuable to us as well as fellow neighborhood stakeholders.”
-Marcos Beleche, Four Corners Main Street

Sample infographic IAP intern developed

Not sure how to put your project into words? Check out these sample IAP position descriptions:
Still not sure an IAP intern is right for you? 

Hear directly from partners who hosted students over IAP:

  • “[Our intern] was curious, thoughtful, hardworking, independent, and skilled. I couldn’t possibly have asked for more. We asked her to start in on a strategic project that has been back-burnered for 5 years, and she did so with a tenacity matched only by her grace.” 
  • “[Our intern] moved a critical project forward by conducting interviews and competitive analysis we didn’t have the internal capacity to complete.” 
  • “[Our intern] brought a critical skill set (data processing) that we did not have on our team, which made a larger project she was working on much easier to manage. We were able to get a lot more done because of her computer science skills, than if we had done the analysis by hand.” 
  • “We had a fantastic experience hosting [our interns] for their four-week IAP internship. They both had refreshing, positive attitudes towards the opportunity. After a couple days of orientation and goal-setting, both students were able to charge into their projects with creativity and independence.” 
  • “[Our intern] developed a machine learning algorithm that would not have been worked on if not for the internship program. Despite only being four weeks long, [they] delivered a model with a complete structure that can be extended going forwards.” 
  • “[Our intern] carried a project over the finish line and built capacity within our department to more effectively use data to make policy decisions in a variety of policy domains. She additionally explored how well particular subpopulations and communities in our city were represented and pointed to opportunities for the City to target specific groups revealed by diving deeper into publicly available data than we had previously been able to go.” 
  • “Staff saw benefits beyond the project our intern was assigned — through his observations and external knowledge, [our intern] shared new methods to address existing problems and routine tasks.” 
  • “Our team really loved having Social Impact Interns – they learned so quickly, dove right in, and produced work product that we have already been using in the days since they left. They are all welcome back for another internship any time!”
Four weeks is still too short! What options are available for longer internships?
  • Some IAP internships can be extended into the Spring semester on a part-time basis (about 6-10 hours per week). Partners and students apply for internship continuations and are contingent on available funding.
  • Consider a summer intern! Summer interns work about 8-10 weeks (about 300-400 hours) between June and mid-August. This timeframe is great for students to really become part of the team and get exposure to multiple projects.
  • You can also check out our federal work-study program, which can include semester-time and longer-term opportunities for eligible undergraduate and graduate students.