UPEP provides the opportunity to engage in a leading college-in-prison program in the Mountain West, with the goal of social transformation through on-site higher education, empirical research, and advocacy. We are always seeking committed and thoughtful volunteers to support and grow the program. Join us!

UPEP provides unpaid credit-bearing and non-credit-bearing internships throughout the year for students. Internships begin at the start of each semester. Paid internships are occasionally available in collaboration with Departments and Colleges at the University. These positions are competitive and advertised when available.

All applicants should be highly motivated, dependable, and able to check email at least every 48 hours. Applicants should not hold any ill feelings or biases towards people with incarceration histories and we strongly encourage individuals directly impacted by incarceration to apply.

All Interns will report to UPEP Co- Directors, Dr.’s Erin Castro and Cindy Fierros, and work closely with the UPEP team.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Current undergraduate or graduate student with good academic standing.
  • Commit to approximately 10 hours of work per week for one semester, with 3-5 hours in the UPEP office on campus.
  • Participate in a half-day orientation once a semester and attend monthly meetings throughout the semester.
  • Participate in Students Against Mass Incarceration (SAMI) reading group (meets once per month).

To apply, submit the following:

  • Cover letter addressing why you want to intern with UPEP and highlighting any relevant experience. Please specify which internship you are applying for.
  • Resume or CV.
  • Schedule of availability (at least 10 hours per week).

Materials due November 1 (Spring Internship) and March 1 (Fall Internship)

Administrative Assistant

The Administrative Intern assists the Project in managing its day-to-day operations outside the prison. This work may include coordinating and documenting the collection of donations, managing print correspondence with students, updating social media, and assisting in general record keeping. This position requires weekly presence in the UPEP office on campus and consistent, timely checking of email.

Research Assistant

The Research Assistant Intern assists in analysis of UPEP’s first-year evaluation. Data have already been collected and require initial reading, cataloguing, and analysis. The Research Assistant Intern works closely with the Director to produce a final evaluation report by the end of the semester. This position requires much independent writing and reading, which includes reading in the area of program evaluation.

Course Assistant

The Course Assistant Intern assists in gathering all necessary supplemental materials for the two courses offered on-site at the prison. These requests include, but are not limited to, assisting with gathering research and information for students writing papers and helping faculty in printing weekly requests. This position requires excellent communication and follow-through skills, weekly presence in the UPEP office on campus, and the ability to work with faculty to manage course-specific requests every week.

Media Assistant

The Media Assistant Interns assists in managing all UPEP social media accounts and supports efforts to publish our bi-annual newsletters. This position requires great attention to detail and time management.

Outreach Assistant

The Outreach Assistant is responsible for making and strengthening connections between UPEP and various campus and community organizations. This position requires advanced motivation, ability for independent work, and excellent public speaking skills. The OA assists the Project in recruiting volunteers, educating audiences about UPEP, coordinating events, and making informational presentations.

Development Assistant

The Development Assistant works with the Co-Directors in the areas of fundraising, budget, and grant writing. Specific tasks consist of identifying grant opportunities, drafting applications, and tracking data that may be crucial for applications to future funding opportunities. This position requires experience in grant writing and is likely best suited for someone working on a master’s degree.

Student Advisory Liaison Assistant

This position requires weekly attendance at the Utah State Prison in Draper. The primary purpose of this internship is to support the UPEP Student Advisory Group inside the prison as they work to improve UPEP programming, communication, and organization on the inside. Advanced undergraduate students and graduate students are invited to apply for this position. Experience with university student government preferred.

Submit Materials

Q&A With Two UPEP Educators

Judge Clemens Landau J.D.

  1. What motivated you to sign up as a volunteer teacher for the UPEP program?
    This is a program that Dr. Castro has told me about over the years. When she told me there was an opportunity to teach a Law and Literature class at the prison, I jumped at the opportunity.
  2. What were you most concerned or nervous about prior to your first class?
    I was nervous about teaching. I don’t have substantial teaching experience, and I was worried that I would not be able to get through the material in an effective way.
  3. What was your most unexpected experience?
    The level of comfort the students had with me and vice versa was unexpected. I thought that the inherent difference in our perspectives would hamper our ability to connect on a human level. It didn’t.
  4. How were you treated by the students?
    The students were amazing. They were patient with my apparent lack of teaching experience, and really bought in to the theme of the class. Their high level of engagement made the class extremely satisfying—hopefully for all of us.
  5. Are there any perceived myths you would like to debunk?
    To the extent anyone believes that my students were something other than students during the time they spent in this class—I’d like to debunk that as a myth. Our class time was spent having high-level conversations about law, justice, innocence, eye witnesses, bias in all its forms, punishment, and fate. The students were well-prepared and engaged. We left our respective roles as judge and incarcerated persons at the door of the classroom, and had wonderful exchanges about the literature we were reading, and the literature the students were creating.
  6. If you were given a miracle opportunity to do or change absolutely anything in the US/State justice system, what would be your wish?
    My wish would be to make routine the practice of exchanging perspectives. We all can learn so much from one another, but we rarely do, in large part because we are stuck viewing the system from a certain perspective.
  7. Words of advice for potential UPEP volunteers/teachers?
    Put in lots of effort to prepare, because the students in the program not only read the assigned reading, they engage with the themes and the sub-text, and will expect you to do the same.
  8. Words of advice for UPEP students?
    Keep putting the effort in, regardless of what kind of day you are having. I know there were days that were more difficult for some students, and I don’t profess to know what was going on in their lives on those days. But I know that we all had the best experiences on the days that we were prepared to engage in the themes presented in the weekly readings.

Defense Attorney Kate Conyers J.D.

  1. What motivated you to sign up as a volunteer teacher for the UPEP program? I heard about the program from my friend and colleague, Judge Clem Landau. I wanted to sign up for three main reasons: a) As a criminal defense lawyer, I am a big believer in programs that reduce recidivism and that help inmates and give them some sort of quality of life. b) I love teaching and leading discussions. c) I enjoy having conversations about criminal justice issues; as a practicing lawyer, we don’t have the opportunity to do that very often—perhaps out of continuing learning education classes—and this seemed like a great opportunity to learn more about criminal justice topics and to discuss them with people who are most affected by them.
  2. What were you most concerned or nervous about prior to your first class? I was definitely nervous – not so much about the teaching part of it, or really the subject matter, but more about making sure we provided a high quality class that benefited the students. I was also quite concerned about the grading aspects of the course as well as assigning and grading writing assignments, as that isn’t my forte.
  3. What was your most unexpected experience? I didn’t expect the students to grasp the material and the concepts so easily and to be so willing to discuss these topics in this format. I found one discussion to be particularly interesting – we discussed what percentage students assigned to the standard “beyond a reasonable doubt.” I was surprised that they put it at 51%; I think of it closer to 80%.
  4. How were you treated by the students? The students were really great – they were professional, eager to learn, and thankful for the opportunity. I enjoyed getting to know them through our various conversations we had.
  5. Are there any perceived myths you would like to debunk?
    I think some people believe that there is a safety risk at the prison. I never felt like that was an issue. I found my students to be high caliber people and I never felt like my safety was at risk.
  6.  If you were given a miracle opportunity to do or change absolutely anything in the US/State justice system, what would be your wish? Wow – so many things! If I could change one thing, it would be focusing on, financing, and providing defendants with effective and realistic treatment (of any kind they need) opportunities in lieu of incarceration.
  7. Words of advice for potential UPEP volunteers/teachers? Do your best to prepare a lesson plan and assignments in advance; do your own readings in advance. Time passes quickly; the students will be prepared and they expect you will be, as well.
  8. Words of advice for UPEP students? Don’t be afraid to ask the teachers and/or other students anything that comes to mind (in context of the discussion; of course). Let the teachers and assistants know if you have any needs and/or expectations. Definitely let the teachers know if they are doing anything that bothers you so that it can be immediately addressed/fixed. Definitely do the readings and assignments so that we can have a full discussion of the materials as scheduled.


Other Volunteer Opportunities:

UPEP offers various short-term and long-term volunteer opportunities. To learn more, contact us

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