Social movement scholars have long recognized that participants in one campaign often develop a commitment to activism that inspires continued participation for years, even a lifetime. Scholars have identified a number of factors that inspire the development of commitment, including consciousness raising, empowerment, social ties and the development of a shared collective identity. In this article, we highlight another factor that the movement literature has thus far neglected: skills acquisition. Using data from interviews with participants in the AFL-CIO's Union Summer student internship program, we elaborate on the processes through which participation generates a feeling of empowerment, specifically showing that participants in an intensive movement campaign can learn concrete organizing skills which empower and inspire them to sustain their involvement in activism. In addition, we find that social ties are important not only because of the information and support they provide, but also because they transmit human capital. We demonstrate that those who come to an activist campaign with less experience, and those who participate in a better-organized campaign are more likely to gain activist human capital through their participation.

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