Internship Tips: Securing funding

By MacKenzie Brady

Student Life Editor

So, you’ve applied to internships, maybe you’ve even gotten one for sure, and now you’re left wondering — how am I going to pay for a place to stay, food, etc., because my internship doesn’t pay/only provides a stipend/doesn’t pay enough/etc.?

Well, there’s good news — internship funding is but a few applications away.

Washington College has a number of different internship funding opportunities, which can be found on the left-hand side of the Career Center’s page of the WC website. These funding opportunities are listed in alphabetical order on the site, but eligibility varies — some are major/career specific, others are only open to members of certain honor societies and organizations on campus, etc.

It is important to pay attention to the due dates for the various internship funding applications, as they are all different.

Eligibility may also vary based on GPA, major, the type of internship and what it focuses on, etc.

WC awards over $300,000 annually to fund internship and research opportunities over the course of the year, including summer opportunities.

Tya Pope, Assistant Dean for Curricular Enrichment, oversees the Hodson Trust Internship Fund and the Nina A. Houghton Internship/Externship Fund.

“Students should really just take some time looking at the funding page, seeing what they’re eligible for,” Dean Pope said.

Reading through each description will help students determine what they are eligible for and what opportunities are even out there in terms of funding.

“Last year, we had about 100 students who were awarded stipends to support their summer experiences,” said Nanett Cooley, Executive Director of Career Development. “On average, students received, depending on what their need is for the summer experience, $1,000 to $2,000.”

“Our goal is to be able to level the playing field for all students so that everyone has the chance to complete a summer experience regardless of financial background status,” Cooley said.

“There are a number of students who feel they can’t do an internship, especially if it’s unpaid, because they have to work,” Dean Pope said. “So, if we are able to defer some of those costs and expenses, to make sure they’re not shoveling out a ton of money to have the experience, it can make a lot easier for folks.”

This does not mean that funding can be used as actual income replacement — funds are not meant to pay students for their labor — but it is meant to pay for things associated with the summer experience like travel, lodging, meals, and potentially other materials required for the internship that are not provided on-site.

While each of the funding applications may vary slightly, they each require a budget detailing what the potential expenses might be.

“The budget is really key,” Dean Pope said. “It gives us a better sense of what the funds are going to be used for and how we can best support the student and make this a possibility.”

It is important to make the budget realistic — do not sell yourself short when it comes to planning for the internship’s costs. Do your research to make sure you not only know how much the expenses of the internship will cost, but also be sure you can defend those costs when you explain what the money is being used for. For example, if you live on the East Coast but your internship is on the West Coast, put in your budget a realistic price for your plane ticket. When looking up lodging, find realistic numbers for how much rent will cost in whatever area you will be living in.

If the costs of your internship are high, or at least higher than you anticipated, try not to freak out. The more detailed and well-planned your budget is, the more likely you will get that funding you need. Realistically, no one is going to have their budget fully funded, so by including all of your costs you increase your chances of getting most things partially funded, which takes the financial burden off your shoulders at least a little bit.

“I’d rather you give me a huge budget that I can’t possibly approve than tell me, ‘I need $500’ and not give you enough to support what you actually need,” Dean Pope said.

“If a student is being paid [at their internship], often what I’m finding that it’s not enough to really sustain them the whole summer anyway,” she said. “So, applying for those additional funds can be really critical.”

Even if your internship is paid, you are still encouraged to apply for funding to help with costs.

One of the major changes for this year’s application process is that you do not have to have secured the internship to apply for funding. If you’re in the late stages of the application process and it looks like you will get it, apply for funding. Should the internship fall through, let whomever is in charge of that fund know so they can redistribute those funds to other students.

“There are funds available. Apply for them,” Dean Pope said.

The deadline to apply for the Hodson Trust Internship Fund or the Nina. A Houghton Internship/Externship Fund — the two funding opportunities that Dean Pope is in charge of — is April 15. Applications can be found and completed online.

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