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Cohen Career Center launches fund for unpaid internships

  • The Cohen Career Center
    The Cohen Career Center
    The Center teaches students core life skills, such as how to identify an appropriate career path, write an effective resume and find a job. It also helps employers connect with William & Mary students and alumni through on-going recruiting services.
    Photo by Stephen Salpukas

With spring break in their rearview mirror, students have turned their attention to summer plans. For many, that includes seeking a summer internship. While some employers offer paid internships, many do not. To help make unpaid internships more accessible, the Cohen Career Center is launching the Cohen Career Center Internship Fund.

“Internship experience has become more a necessity and less an option in today’s competitive job market,” said Mary Schilling, assistant vice president for student affairs and executive director of the Cohen Career Center. “Sometimes the best internships carry little to no salary. Fiscally that’s not always an option for students. We want to change that.”

Underclassmen currently enrolled in any degree program and returning to W&M next year may apply for a $4,000 award; graduating seniors and graduate students will not be eligible. Members of the Cohen Career Center staff will comprise the review committee. Applications for the funding are available accessible via the center’s website and due April 11.

“Many employers offer internships that are unpaid,” Schilling added. “Sectors that typically fall into the unpaid category include non-profit, government, education and non-government organizations. These internships are offered by organizations and agencies that genuinely don’t have the resources to pay their interns. The Cohen Career Center Internship Fund will particularly address this subset.”

In awarding the grants, Schilling said, the review committee will consider both merit and need, as well as the applicants’ goals for their internships and the alignment of the internship program with their career goals.

The program addresses summer internships only.

“Summer internships present the greatest need,” she said. “We are immensely grateful to the Parent and Family Council, the Vice President of Student Affairs, individual parents, alumni and other donors who have made this initiative a reality.”

To qualify, internships must be a minimum of 160 hours, with a single organization, be spread out over at least four weeks, and be completed over the summer. Students will be limited to one grant per year.

Internships are popular with Tribe students. In the 2013 Outcomes Survey – an annual survey of graduating seniors – 56 percent of respondents said they had participated in one or more summer internships.

Schilling noted that the Cohen Career Center Internship Fund was one of several funding sources now available to students for summer internships. Additional funding is available through the Charles Center, the Office of Community Engagement and from a number of individual academic departments.

Individuals interested in contributing to the Cohen Career Center Internships Fund should contact Stacey Summerfield at sbsummerfield@wm.edu.