‘Knowledge in Action’ Grants Lower the Cost of Unpaid Internships

In three years, more than 265 GW students have benefited from the parent and alumni funded program.

Guillermo Martinez, Knowledge in Action Internship Fund recipient.
George Washington University senior Guillermo Martinez will intern at the D.C. Superior Court this summer, thanks to financial support provided by the GW Knowledge in Action Internship Fund. (William Atkins/GW Today)
June 13, 2016

By Brittney Dunkins

When George Washington University senior Guillermo J. Martinez was selected for his dream internship at D.C. Superior Court, his elation was dampened by the reality of the cost of taking on a full-time, unpaid internship in D.C.

Luckily, Mr. Martinez qualified for a grant from the GW Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund (KACIF). 

“The KACIF award has allowed me to focus on my own professional development without having to worry too much about the financial burden of an unpaid internship,” Mr. Martinez said. “I have been able to balance my time and improve my performance as a legal intern.

“This is in large part because of the generosity of the Career Services Council.”

The GW Career Services Council launched KACIF in 2013 to support the professional development of students by defraying the costs of eligible unpaid internships. To date, more than 265 students have received KACIF awards.

Following an application process during the fall, spring and summer semesters, selected GW students receive KACIF grants up to $3,000. KACIF is funded by GW alumni, parents and friends of the university. In the past three years, approximately $450,568 has been awarded to KACIF recipients.

Carol Galladian, a senior program specialist for GW Career Services, encouraged alumni, parents and friends to support KACIF because internships allow students to “take the “My Career Success Plan” for a test drive.

“The financial support provided by KACIF makes a significant difference in the lives of GW students, just as these students make a difference through their service and work,” Dr. Galladian said. “Employers are increasingly relying on interns as the state of the economy is changing. More than ever, students need internships to build their professional experiences, broaden their network and to be competitive in the job market.”

Like many GW students, Mr. Martinez juggles a full schedule that includes balancing academics with serving as a resident advisor and Tennis Club executive board member.

For Mr. Martinez, an aspiring lawyer, a KACIF award means an introduction to the legal field, from working with trial judges in D.C. to gaining hand-on experience with legal documents and civil procedure. Next semester, he will intern with the Public Defenders Service for the District of Columbia.

Past KACIF recipients have gained critical workplace experience at organizations in the United States and around the world, such as the State Department, the World Health Organization, the National Portrait Gallery and the World Bank Group.

“I have always been interested in the judiciary,” Mr. Martinez said. “I hope to make the right connections that will be useful in my law school application and in my future legal career.

Donations to KACIF and the Colonials Helping Colonials Fund are accepted online.

According to GW Board of Trustees member Scott Amey, M.S. '75, he and his wife, Debbie, support KACIF because internships are the perfect complement to what students learn in the classroom.

"Internships offer real world experience that reinforces and expands on what professors teach,” Mr. Amey said. “As a business owner, I can verify that we place great value in candidates' resumes that include internships with companies that do what we do.”

The application period for fall 2016 KACIF grants is July 1-15. Students can apply online.  Applicants will be notified of their selection on Aug. 15.