‘A valuable experience’: Some colleges foot bill for internships
In today’s competitive job market, college internships are important. In fact, one recent study finds two thirds of college interns are offered a job by the company for which they intern. But unpaid internships can price some students out of a priceless experience.
That’s what almost happened to college junior Edith Amoafoa-Smart. She wanted to take an unpaid internship at the United Nations. But there was one problem.
“Housing costs, transportation costs, feeding costs,” she said. “There was no way for me to be able to afford that.”
Expert Liz Lierman says while internships are important, she is concerned about some students being forced to overlook some meaningful opportunities “such as small nonprofits where the organization is not able to pay.”
She worried that, “What that means for students is that only those who are able to find a way to cover the cost of participating in the internship are able to do so.”
But now some colleges are bridging the gap. Some pay thousands in stipends, some offer hourly wages, usually for qualifying students. Mount Holyoke College, where Lierman works, goes one step further. “Every student at some point has the opportunity to receive financial support for an unpaid internship or research experience if needed,” she says.
Each student receives $3,000 for a U.S. internship and $3,600 if they go abroad.
“The funds for these types of programs come from the support of individual alumni and donors,” explained Lierman.
The Mount Holyoke program enabled Edith to accept her dream internship on her way to a career in international development.
“It was definitely a valuable experience,” she said. “And I got to meet a lot of people, make connections.”
Lierman said many more colleges are starting to look into funding internships. You can go to your school’s website to see if yours does. For overall laws regarding internships and when a company needs to pay, click here.