From writing above-the-fold news stories for the Philadelphia Inquirer to conducting research for the Stanford University School of Medicine, Scripps students traveled around the country gaining experience in a multitude of fields. According to Valinda Lee, associate director and career counselor at the Carlotta Welles ’39 Center for Career Planning & Resources (CP&R), college students can have trouble gaining this type of experience because, while CP&R works with employers to advocate for hourly wages where possible, many internships are still unpaid. However, she adds, “Our donors, our office, and the College all want to enable our students to be able to participate in internships without significant financial constraints.” Last summer, through the generosity of the Scripps community, CP&R was able to offer more than 90 student Internship Grants, providing much-needed financial support for students exploring their interests in unpaid summer positions.
Typically, a student is awarded a $2,000–$4,000 grant, depending on the cost of living and other expenses associated with the internship. According to Lee, the goal of the Internship Grants is to allow students to focus on both their classroom learning and professional development without having to worry about finances. “For some students, the Internship Grant gives them the ability to take an internship away from home and adds to the learning that’s happening in the classroom here at Scripps,” Lee says.
Throughout the process of applying for grants and searching for internships, CP&R strives to make the Internship Grant application process accessible for all students. Applications for Internship Grant funding are due in early spring, but Lee stresses that students don’t need to have an internship secured when they apply. “This is important because, while many students complete paid internships, others need the security of knowing they have available funding. Internship Grants allow students to commit to an unpaid internship,” says Lee. “We want to ensure that students with demonstrated need don’t feel discouraged from applying.” It’s an advantage for students to know that they’ll have funding when pursuing internships.
After completing their internships, CP&R shares student reflections on their Beyond the Elms blog, and the results are overwhelmingly positive. “Often, what’s confirmed for a student on an internship is that this is a field they really want to continue in, providing great networking contacts and catapulting them into the next chapter of their journey,” says Lee. “Or, they realize what they don’t want to do, and that can be just as valuable.”
Since its establishment in 2005, the Internship Grant program has grown extensively. That first year, the College was able to offer four internship grants. Last summer, thanks entirely to funding from alums, family, and friends of the College, Scripps offered 95 Internship Grants to current students. The program’s growth is a mark of its effectiveness and its necessity. Now more than ever, programs that support students seeking internships are crucial, as potential employers see internships as integral to post-college employability, according to Lee. “It’s understood that students need to have experience interning before they graduate, and Scripps students certainly rise to the occasion,” she says. “At the time of graduation, about eighty-eight percent of Scripps students have completed at least one internship.”
For Meghan Bobrowsky ’21, an internship grant gave her valuable hands-on journalistic experience at the Philadelphia Inquirer. “As an aspiring career journalist, I was interested in interning for a newspaper with award-winning journalists that boasted a strong internship program, and covering a city bustling with news,” she says. During her internship, Bobrowsky collaborated with reporters to cover a number of stories and considers her greatest accomplishment to be an article she wrote on the rising taxes in suburban school districts. It took her three weeks, during which she went to three school board meetings and gathered data on 60 school districts. But her hard work paid off—the story ran on the front page and received more than 13,000 views online. During this time, she also found a mentor in her editor, who has since written her letters of recommendation for several summer 2019 internship applications.
Currently, all funding for Internship Grants comes from our generous donors. Some funds are endowed, but the majority of Internship Grants are established from annual donations. There are many alums and Scripps parents who recognize the impact of this program and choose to donate smaller amounts to contribute what they can to this pivotal program. There are also some alums who received Internship Grants themselves during their time at Scripps, benefited greatly from the program, and want to give back. Lee strongly believes in the impact that Internship Grants can have on students—she herself donates to the program.
Bobrowsky reflects on her time at the Philadelphia Inquirer and is grateful for the experience. “Without the grant, I wouldn’t have been able to work with this organization,” says Bobrowsky. “The Inquirer requires interns to have outside funding, so I am very grateful to Scripps, specifically CP&R, for choosing me as a grant recipient. I gained invaluable experience that helped me grow as a journalist and a person.”
“Compared to other priorities, it’s a relatively small amount of money that can have a really big impact,” continues Lee. “With a gift of $4,000, you can give a student an opportunity they might not otherwise have access to over the summer. And by giving them the opportunity to explore their interest in a professional setting, you could potentially change their life.”