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Granting Opportunity

Granting OpportunityCareer Services' Summer Internship Grants program makes it possible for students to take advantage of unpaid internship.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [08.03.09] While summer internships can give students the real-world skills they need to enter the workplace, the fact that many internships are now unpaid has made it harder for some students to take advantage of such opportunities.

In 2002 the university decided to help remedy the situation by creating the Summer Internship Grants program, administered by Career Services, which awards Tufts students with a $3500 grant.Thanks to donations from alumni and the Tufts Diversity Fund, the program funded 36 students this summer, allowing them to participate in both nonprofit and private sector internships.

For senior Katharine Seim, the grant has given her valuable public relations and marketing skills by working at Affiliate Media LLC in Medford.

"I found my internship on Tufts Career Connect, which is a really great resource for students," says Seim, who heard about the grant while working in Career Services last year.

Seim spends her day juggling duties such as making budgets and reaching out to potential partners for the company's three major branches: Affiliate Media LLC, a film production company; Nieubreed Films, a boutique wedding cinematography and photography company; and Cultura Ijile, a documentary about cultural identity. 

Ryan Kring (A'11) has also gained valuable experience in his internship with Boston Health Care for the Homeless. Already, Kring has been able to help with a range of cases, from accompanying a man to an assisted living facility to apply for residency to helping doctors convince a man with foot disease to enter their respite care facility.

"I don't ever get bored since I'm doing something new every day," says Kring. "It's inspiring for me working in the health care field, and it has cemented the desire to continue on my career path and work hard to become a doctor."

Students who receive the grants must provide proof of their commitment to their internship. Career Services requires three progress reports, an informational interview with someone at their internship site and an intern evaluation. They must also create a poster detailing the work they will present at a fall meeting.

Like Kring, Miriam Umana (A'10) also chose to work in a nonprofit organization, Casa Marianella in Austin, Texas, a shelter that houses immigrants and refugees, mainly from Latin America. This was an added bonus to Umana, who also wanted to develop her Spanish language skills.

"The grant has helped immeasurably," Umana says. "I wouldn't have been able to take this position without it because my family doesn't have the means to support me. I would have had to pick up my old summer job working in the mall. These grants help people get a leg up that they might not get otherwise."

Umana's internship also helped her pinpoint where her interests lie within the field of social work.

"I think while I do feel really connected to immigrant rights because my dad was an immigrant, this internship has reinforced that I want to work in more of a one-on-one capacity with people," says Umana. "I think I would be more comfortable in a profession where I interacted in a more emotional and personal way with clients."

Applications to the Summer Internship Grants program have increased every year, with 120 applicants this year alone. Grants were given to about one in four students, and interest is expected to be even higher next year.

"I hope that these donors see what great opportunities it provides for students. Hopefully that will motivate even more people to contribute because it's such a fantastic idea," Seim says. "I hope it keeps rising in popularity both for students and as a good cause to donate to."

Story by Catherine Scott (A'11)

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