Scholarship Established For Students With Unpaid Internships

Sophomore Leah Beyene, an Audio Design & Production Major, at her internship with Classick Studios in Chicago, owned by alumnus Chris Classick.
New $175,000 initiative will allocate funds into scholarships for students with unpaid internships.

Internships represent an important first step for students breaking into the professional world, but many internship opportunities remain unpaid and, in fact, cost students both time and money while seeking college credit. With tuition rates across the country increasing, and many students relying on part-job time jobs to support themselves, students are looking for ways to better ensure their success after graduation.

“We know there is a positive connection between internships and career success, but many creative internships are unpaid, and students have to pay for the credit,” says Executive Director of Career Initiatives Christie Andersen Asif. “Taking 10-20 hour per week internships means that students may need to quit or cut back hours worked in a part-time job. For some, this isn’t feasible.”

Asif is a leading agent in the college’s new Columbia Internship Fund, a new scholarship initiative administered by the Career Center that will provide students with a one-time $2,500 award to help offset the costs of unpaid internships. The fund was established as part of the ongoing review of student internship opportunities outlined in the Strategic Plan, which recognizes that unpaid internships present a hurdle to students in creative fields.

So far, the college has allocated $175,000 to implement the award program. In addition, the Office of Development has launched a Columbia Internship Challenge to match this number in alumni donations, with hopes of reaching a grand total of $350,000 in its first year. The challenge will run until Aug. 31st, 2016.

The awards are available to undergraduate students who have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and have completed 60 credit hours by the start of their internship. They must also meet the prerequisite requirements set by their department. All applicants must have demonstrated financial need through a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students will be able to apply as early as Nov. 16 to receive the award in the spring semester. 

The college expects to award up to 40 students for the upcoming spring semester. Information sessions will be held on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 12:00 p.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 13 at 11:00 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 12:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 19 at 10:00 p.m.
  • Monday, Nov. 23 at 3:00 p.m.

All information sessions will be held at 623 S. Wabash, Room 311.