More scholarships for unpaid internships

by Youssef Rddad

The University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts is increasing the amount of scholarships it doles out to help students afford to take on unpaid internships.
Last year, CLA awarded 71 $1,500 scholarships to students who worked unpaid internships. Prior to 2013, the school gave out 12 to 15 internship scholarships annually. The college expects to award more than 90 of those scholarships this year as part of an emphasis on career preparation efforts. 
Students received more than $100,000 last year through various CLA scholarships that give a one-time stipend for unpaid internships. 
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, working an internship while in college may give grads an advantage over other job seekers. CLA recommends students use internships to explore potential careers and build professional skills. 
In a CLA Career Services survey, for-profit companies and government employers said having an internship was one of the most important details on students’ resumes, along with leadership and volunteering work.
“Many students might forgo an excellent learning opportunity because the realities are higher education is expensive, and maybe they’d rather work something less relevant for their career because it pays the bills,” CLA career counselor Ben Hansen said.  “I think [a scholarship] helps with that big burden.”
Hansen said certain careers CLA graduates enter into might not require an internship, but they may want additional experience, such as volunteering or a campus job.
Regan Sieck, CLA’s internship development coordinator, said students who are unable to work an unpaid 
internship can find other ways to gain experience, including leadership opportunities through a student group.
“Sometimes students just need to ask, and they’ll be pleasantly surprised,” Sieck said. “There are a lot of options, and it comes down to be willing to search a little harder.”
According to a January Gallup Poll, 36 percent of Big Ten graduates said they applied for internships relevant to their studies.
Other Big Ten schools, including the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, offer similar scholarships.
“A lot of liberal arts students know that their majors don’t always translate to a specific job,” Sieck said. “We encourage students to get in as early as they can.” 
Dorothy Cheng, the College of Science and Engineering’s scholarship coordinator said CSE doesn’t offer scholarships for students who work unpaid internships, adding that unpaid internships are uncommon for the college’s students.
Aerospace engineering and mechanics senior Alec Seeley said working an unpaid internship would be difficult for him because of his bills. He said he would probably have to
work a night job if he was offered an internship he couldn’t pass up.
“If the benefits of an unpaid internship were high enough I’d try to make it work,” Seeley said. “It probably would be a struggle for a while, though.”