Career Services Internship Scholarship Program

Career Services Internship Scholarship Program

Funding for Unpaid Internships

Career Services’ mission is to empower Cal Poly students to achieve a lifetime of meaningful career success. One of the best ways students can ensure future career success is by gaining relevant professional experience during their time at Cal Poly. Establishing funding for unpaid internships is a tangible way to create more equity and opportunity for students who face financial barriers. 

Research clearly suggests an internship experience (regardless of compensation) greatly impacts both the short and longer-term career success of students.

A National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) study indicated that students who completed at least one internship: 

  • Received a job offer more quickly

  • Had a higher first-position salary than those who did not

  • Averaged $8,097 more per year higher in salary 

Many internships are unpaid and are especially common in government, non-profit, arts, and public service industries which creates financial, and, ultimately, career barriers for low-income students interested in these fields.

According to a 2014 NACE survey of 43,000 graduating seniors, 61 percent had some form of internship experience during college, with more than half being unpaid. A separate study commissioned by The Chronicle for Higher Education and cited by the Brookings Institution suggests that internships are the most important factor when it comes to hiring a recent college graduate, which can difficult to find for students who cannot afford to accept unpaid positions.

Your donation will allow us to offer funding for unpaid internships for the first time and assist students who are lacking the financial means to gain invaluable career experience.

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Program Overview  

Career Services Internship Scholarship Program will offer two awards to students who have already secured internships, research, and/or related pre-professional experience that demonstrates career motivation and professional ambition. Award selections will be based on the following criteria addressed in the student application: 

  • Potential substantive learning experience and benefits offered through internship 

  • How the internship experience supports career interests and future professional growth 

  • Financial need and impact of scholarship award 

  • Professional quality of resume and clear demonstration of General Eligibility and specific award criteria 

General Eligibility

To be considered for awards students must:

  • Have secured an unpaid internship within non-profits, government, education, arts, public service, or another organization that does not traditionally pay its interns

  • Currently enrolled undergraduate students who will return to Cal Poly as an enrolled student after the internship. Graduating seniors are not eligible to apply.

  • Demonstrate impact of award, including financial need

*Internships must be compliant with the Fair Labor Standards Act

Partnership with Financial Aid

  • Awarded monies would go into a designated Financial Aid scholarship fund.  

  •  Career Services will form a student internship application review process with input from Financial Aid

  • Financial Aid will distribute funds to awarded students.

The program will manage one-time, non-renewable awards.

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