Internship grant program grows to reach more students

Media Credit: Hatchet file photo

Students attend a career fair hosted by the Center for Career Services at the Smith Center last fall. Officials from the center want more students to be able to apply for internship grants this year.

Officials running the University’s internship fund want more students to apply for the grants.

The application deadlines for grants were each extended by a month and updates to the funds’ website provide students with more directions for their applications. Student leaders and officials say these changes are designed to increase the number of students who apply for the grants and to encourage those who receive financial aid to continue to pursue internships.

Rachel Brown, the assistant provost for University Career Services, said students should now have more time to secure internships before applying for the grants.

“Because of the extended deadline, more students will have time to search and secure an internship for the following semester, so we anticipate more applications,” Brown said.

Applications for this fall semester were set to close in June but instead remained open into July. Applicants for the upcoming spring semester have until Nov. 15 to apply and will be notified of their application status by Dec. 15, according to the program’s website.

Brown added that updates to the funds’ website — which feature more student videos, sample applications and information on past recipients — will give students more information about the grant.

Since launching in 2013, more than 265 students have received grants, totaling $450,000. Last fiscal year, the Career Services Council reached its fundraising goal of more than $200,000 in donations from alumni, trustees and parents.

Internship funds have been a major focus for University officials and donors. In 2015, a student-led push to start discounted academic credits for internships was approved and the Princeton Review named GW the top university in the country for internships two years in a row.

Student Association President Erika Feinman said while they and other SA leaders would like to eventually transition to a rolling deadline for grant applications, the upgrades to the website will better guide students through the application process for now.

The fund has altered its language on the website slightly to clarify that students who are paid for their internships but are still not earning enough to live and work in D.C. can still apply for the grants, Feinman added.

“We are hoping that by adding this language, students will have more access to this support,” Feinman said.

After completing their internships, recipients also will be required to submit a photo of themselves on-site working, write thank-you notes, create a blog of their experience and receive an internship evaluation from their supervisors, according to the website.

Ciaran Lithgow, a senior and one of the fund’s current recipients, said they first heard about the unpaid internship funds through their political science adviser. Lithgow was encouraged to follow through with the application because the website made it straight-forward.

“What particularly helped was having two sample applications to review during the process. I don’t think I would’ve gotten the scholarship without that,” Lithgow said.

Lithgow added that the application, which consists of three essay questions, is designed to evaluate whether a student has clear career goals, contributes to the GW or D.C. community and is financially deserving.

Victoria Luckenbaugh, a junior and former fund recipient, said she learned about the grants by meeting with a career coach.

“In the application, it’s important to articulate how the internship relates not just to your major but also to your career goals,” Luckenbaugh said.

Luckenbaugh said the application process for the internship fund is getting more competitive because so many GW students now apply for the grants.

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