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CCPD Overhauls Internship Funding Policies

[Elyse Tuennerman / The Index]

The Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) internship program will be undergoing a major change this year. The department is unveiling several new programs and policies, the first of which affects summer internship funding — stipends, which will be larger than in past years, will be available only for certain types of internships, and will be given out depending on first-generation and/or financial need status. Due to lack of student interest, the change will also do away entirely with the option for students participating in internships without stipends to complete reflective exercises to receive transcript notation.

The CCPD has experimented with various ways of distributing internship stipends in the past. For the summer of 2015, the department switched from a need-based sliding scale available for any unpaid internship (regardless of whether or not it was secured through the CCPD) to a set stipend of $3,000 that was available only for select internships. The following year, stipends were re-opened to students with internships not secured through the CCPD. The change was prompted by low participation rates; some CCPD-sponsored internships went unfilled.

This year, the department anticipates distributing 23 stipends of $4,000. The larger stipend size, which was updated to reflect standards among GLCA college programs and the cost of living in major cities, has decreased the number of stipends available for internships not sponsored by the CCPD. Out of the 23 stipends, 12 will be for CCPD-sponsored Community Building Internships (CBIs), five will be sponsored by the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership and six will be “sought and secured by students on their own,” according to Hawxhurst.

The stipend increase comes at the cost of fewer stipends overall. “We are committed to continuing to fund a certain number of Community Building Internships, so raising the size of each stipend leaves fewer stipends available for student-secured internships,” Hawxhurst said.

In order to maximize the effectiveness of the Center’s “limited financial resources,” the internship program will also have an eligibility requirement: only students who have high financial need or are first-generation college students are eligible to apply for stipends. Eligible students will receive an email from the CCPD during Ninth week about the “competitive application process for these stipends.”

While the new eligibility requirement will support students with high need, some worry that it will leave out students who no longer qualify for stipends but cannot afford a summer with no source of income. “I do think that students who are first-generation or have high financial need should have priority when applying to these stipends, but I know there are students who may not meet the standard set by the college who still need the money,” Kierra Verdun ‘18, who has participated in a CBI and two Arcus-funded internships, said.

Haley Wentz ‘18, who has completed two CCPD-funded internships, is one such student. “I am deeply saddened by the fact that the CCPD is changing to whom the stipends are granted,” Wentz said. “Without these stipends, I would not have been able to pursue the internships I did. Instead, I would have had to work a summer job in order to pay rent, finance study abroad, and have money for textbooks.”

Paige Tobin ‘19 echoes this concern. After a change in company policy put her summer job plans into question, Tobin had planned to apply for a stipend; the Internship Program change left her “angry and surprised.”

Students also expressed frustration with the frequent changes in internship funding policy and the way that changes have been communicated to the campus community. “A huge announcement … was limited to a single email and a recommendation to join Handshake,” Tobin said. “In the twilight of my junior year, I don’t have the institutional network to help me.” Verdun agreed, noting that she “thinks that they should be more transparent about how the program functions.”

With these changes in mind, Hawxhurst emphasized that “the CCPD encourages every student to have some type of career development experience every summer, and our career coaches are eager to work with any student who wants help to identify and secure a summer internship, paid or unpaid.”

Particularly for students in fields where paid internships are far and few between, CCPD stipends are vital to the experiential education component of the K-Plan. Last summer, Hannah Berger ‘18 participated in an internship with the Underground Railroad Freedom Center. She secured the internship independently, and received a CCPD stipend for the experience. “I would not have been able to justify an unpaid summer internship without the CCPD stipend,” Berger said. “This internship … let me explore my passion for human rights and other forms of nonprofit work, which is what I’m focusing on for my future.”

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CCPD Overhauls Internship Funding Policies