Pomona College announced last December that it would increase its summer internship funding program from eight to fourteen grants, allowing more students to receive financial compensation for hands-on internship experience.
The program, which began last year, grants students $4,000 to $5,000
for domestic and international internships.
“A lot of the internships that our
students want to go into are unpaid, so this gives our students the opportunity
to have a really important experience and not have to worry about money,” said
Iris Gardner PO ’09, Internship Coordinator at Pomona’s Career Development
“Without funding, it’s possible I would have had to turn my
internship down,” Emily Miner PO ’12 said. Miner received a grant last summer to
work at an Upward Bound summer program in western Massachusetts, teaching and
mentoring low-income high school students. “It was one of the most valuable
experiences I think I’ve had.”
The program is highly competitive. Of the approximately sixty applicants for summer internship funding last year, only eight received
grants. According to Gardner, this year may be even more competitive, with an expected 200 applicants for the 14 spots.
Robert Chew PO ’14 applied for funding so that he could
intern in Washington, D.C. with Rep. Ed Royce (D-CA), but his request for a grant was turned down.
Though Chew ended up working for Royce anyway, he said the lack of funding
“has been a major consideration in thinking about whether or not to go back
because I spent so much money last summer.”
“I expected for the work I put in for the application to at
least get an interview to plead my case,” Chew said.
Interviews are the second stage
in the application process, following a written proposal.
Gardner said she does not have time to interview each
applicant. She runs both the summer internship program and the Pomona College
Internship Program, which grants funding during the school year.
Across Sixth Street, however, Claremont McKenna
College (CMC) has more openings for students seeking summer internship funding than their southern neighbors.
CMC’s Career Services Center website lists 105 students who
received funding for internships last summer.
“The application process was really easy and
straightforward,” Laura Epstein CM ’14 said.
CMC has a multitude of internship programs, ranging from the Non-Profit Internship Program to the Uoroboros Fellowship
Program, which funds experiences meant to be life-changing or transformative and
specifically excludes government or business-oriented internships.
“CMC is really committed to getting funding because they
know the importance of these internships,” said Sophie Galant CM ’15, who works in
the Career Services Center.
CMC internships are funded by a variety of sources,
from donors to on-campus organizations like the Kravis Leadership Institute
and the Center for Human Rights Leadership.
Gardner hopes that Pomona’s nascent program will continue to
expand to accommodate more students but said its future is entirely
dependent upon donors’ generosity.
“We have been active with the advancement
office, going on trips with them to help get more money,” she said. “The ideal is that
it will fund 100 students during the summer to give as many students as
possible the meaningful experience of a summer internship.”