Career Services Funds Summer Internships

This year, through the generous gifts of alumni and friends of Colgate University, Career Services was able to distribute close to half a million dollars in summer-funding to 170 student applicants in support of unpaid or underpaid internships. As a result, students were able to pursue valuable career experiences in different career fields all over the world.

Recognizing the importance of internships, career experience and the need for financial assistance to make such opportunities possible, raising money for internship funding has become a huge focus for Institutional Advancement, Colgate’s fundraising division, according to Career Services’ Internship Coordinator Shauna Hirschfield.

“Internships are becoming a critical component of the college experience … and even with growing legal restrictions for internships, many internships remain unpaid or underpaid. Internship funding is intended to defray the living costs associated with pursuing an unpaid internship in order to make internship experience accessible to everyone,” Hirschfield said.

The amount of money awarded for summer funding varies from year to year depending on how much was gifted to the University for this purpose. Although $500,000 was donated for summer funding, it was not enough to meet the demands of all students who applied for it through Career Services. For the summer of 2014, 280 students applied for over $930,000 in funding to supplement

living costs and, ultimately, only 170 of the student applicants received funding. Percentage wise, the breakdown of class years of recipients was 49 percent for the class of 2015 and 40 percent for the class of 2016.  The average grant award was approximately $2,800.

Because of the relatively competitive nature of being awarded funding, the application review process is very thorough. Applications for funding were due in early March and students were required to submit a budget worksheet, answer several short answer questions and complete an application form describing the nature of their preferred internship. Career Services then sent the applications to an external review committee of 21 Colgate faculty, staff and administrators. This committee then reviewed the submissions, scoring them according to specific criteria and then assigned each an aggregate score. Based on each application’s score, Career Services created a ranked list and worked their way down the list assigning awards according to available funds.

“Overall, we wanted candidates who have thought intentionally about what they’re pursuing and why, and who could thoughtfully articulate what they hope to get out of a summer experience … It [was] important to show adequate research, thought and intentionality in the application,” Hirschfield said.

The application process will change this upcoming year. Instead of proposing a single internship experience, Career Services will be asking students to outline potential areas of interest as well as summer goals. Much of the previous paperwork will remain the same, but the new process will allow students to have more opportunities to work with Career Services after being tentatively granted funding to find and secure meaningful and exciting summer opportunities.

For this past summer, Career Services ended up awarding funding to students pursuing a variety of different job experiences. Junior Meredith Reynolds applied and received funding which allowed her to spend the summer working as an intern in Boston, Mass. at the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights. During her time working at the Consortium, Reynolds, a Peace and Conflict Studies and Middle Eastern Studies double major, researched how social and cultural expectations of masculinity intersect with conflicts like the Arab Spring and the Israel/Palestine conflict. She also worked on editing transcripts from the Consortium’s International Speaker Series and updated entries on the group’s website. The funding she received helped her pay for the housing, food and transportation costs that come with living and

working in Boston for two months.

“If it wasn’t for Career Services, I never would have been able to pursue this opportunity. They helped me to edit my resume and prepare my cover letter in order to get the job, but they also gave me the funding necessary for me to work at an unpaid internship while living on my own and supporting myself in a city,” Reynolds said. 

As a result of her experience, Reynolds says she was able to bring many things she learned this summer back to Colgate with her. “Through this internship, I got a glimpse into the nonprofit world, as well as an introduction into the field of gender and security studies. But more broadly, I learned to always look for what is missing from the conversation, for whose voices aren’t being heard, and to work to widen the dialogue,” Reynolds said.

Seniors Erik and Alex Jurado were also able to pursue their academic and career interests as a result of summer funding from Career Services. The brothers traveled to Altica, Mexico for six weeks to work on an archaeological dig. Along with a team of archaeologists and other students, the Jurados were able to gain valuable field experience excavating the former settlement.

“I definitely think it was an extension of the classroom, this type of experience. We’re both very big advocates of experiential learning and especially with archaeology there’s really no other way to learn methodology besides actually being in the field and getting your hands dirty,” Erik Jurado said.

Both brothers said the entire experience really affirmed their passion for archaeology.

“The biggest takeaway for me was that I definitely want to pursue archaeology. There are few jobs and opportunities that allow you to write, teach, do labor and so archaeology does a great job combining all those and bringing you into contact with all different types of people,” Alex Jurado said.

Hirshfield said that the most rewarding part of the process is hearing these students’ success stories when they return to campus.

“Although summer funding can make these kinds of opportunities within reach, making the summer meaningful falls entirely on the student.  I’m so proud of the recipients who make the most of the opportunity and go on to do great things,” Hirshfield said.