As many students know, taking on internships to compete in the postgraduate job market is necessary, but at what cost? The George Washington University Career Services Advisory Council’s new student grant program will address the financial strain of necessarily unpaid internships.
The Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund will provide monetary awards ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 to eligible students participating in internships with employers that do not have the resources to provide payment or are necessarily unpaid.
The fund is a part of the council’s ongoing efforts to enhance career services for students, employers, alumni and other stakeholders. To date, the 20-person council, representing career services offices, faculty and students has introduced several other university-wide career services enhancements, with more in the planning stages.
The funding, provided by parent and alumni donations, is a response to student need, according to Rachel A. Brown, assistant provost for university career services and chair of the council.
“These internships enable students to pursue potentially life-changing experiences that may have been previously out of reach due to financial considerations,” Ms. Brown said. “Support from this fund will provide opportunities for students to test out their career options, gain marketable skills and expand their perspectives.”
All GW undergraduate and graduate students in good academic and disciplinary standing are eligible to apply for funding by completing the application that is now available in the GWork career services portal.
Internship opportunities at nonprofit, governmental, educational and non-governmental organizations are among those that qualify as necessarily unpaid and are eligible for support from the fund. Internships at boutique, for-profit and entrepreneurially oriented organizations, such as media and political consulting firms and technology startups, may also be considered if there is justification for why the internship is unpaid.
The fund has already generated positive buzz from students, such as senior Libby Marsh, who over the past summer faced a common situation for the more than 75 percent of GW students participating in internships.
Ms. Marsh was unable to accept a paid working position due to the schedule demands of LSAT classes and a rewarding, but unpaid, internship.
“I understood that my internship and my LSAT class would yield long-term advantages, but it was truly frustrating that all of my hard work was unpaid,” Ms. Marsh said.
“The Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund will provide students pursuing unpaid internships with financial support, encouraging us to pursue our passions and take our learning beyond the classroom,” she added.
Students must submit completed applications for the fund by April 15 and should include a signed letter or contract from the internship sponsor or supervisor confirming the internship position.
A committee of Career Services Advisory Council members will assess applications based on students’ financial need, internships’ connection to the students’ academic and career goals, the quality of the internships and the planned use of the funds.
The first round of awards will be announced in early May.
Students can also participate in online information sessions about the application process on Friday at noon and Monday at 5 p.m.
Parents, students, alumni and friends who would like to contribute to the fund can do so online and write “Knowledge in Action Internship Fund” in the “Other” category under “Purpose of Gift.”
GW community members can also help the fund win up to $20,000 in additional support through the university’s High5 competition.