Students in the Gerstacker Institute now have a new incentive to seek unpaid internships this summer, thanks to a newly created, one-time grant that will cover part, or even all, of their summer college tuition.
“(We created it) in part in recognition of what a difficult economic environment is out there and what that will mean for students in their search for internships,” said Mike Frandsen, director of the Gerstacker Institute. “(We also) wanted to set up a program that would help students to think more broadly about what their internships are.”
According to Frandsen, students who take an unpaid internship at a for-profit entity may receive a grant to cover up to one-half of their tuition, while students who take an unpaid internship at a non-profit organization are eligible to receive a full-tuition grant.
A total sum of up to $10,000 will be awarded to students who have already obtained eligible internships.
Frandsen said that the tuition grant will be awarded based on a student’s financial need as determined by the Financial Aid Office, the student’s involvement in Gerstacker activities, the student’s grades and whether the student is a major or a minor in the program. Gerstacker students are required to complete at least one internship for the institute.
Peggy Sindt, Albion Economic Development Corporation president, said that she hopes to see more students seeking internships within Albion as a result of the tuition grant.
“There are so many skills and life experiences that students can bring to the community,” Sindt said. “ I like that we have a better opportunity to tap into that.”
Sindt said that the both the Albion Economic Development Corporation and other local organizations had previously offered internships in a number of different areas to Albion College students.
“We had one student redesign our entire Web site,” Sindt said. “I try to tailor what we’re doing to the skills of the students. I don’t believe in having people fold paper and stuff envelopes.”
Sindt added that she thought taking an internship within Albion benefited both student and community.
“From the student’s standpoint, it gives the student the opportunity to consider some different career opportunities,” Sindt said. “The other thing I find is that when we have a intern in the town, students tend to go back on campus as an ambassador for the community, (which is good for) both college and community.”
Nick Shaheen, Flint junior, who has been searching for an internship in the financial services or consulting industries, said that he thought the tuition grant would cause students to seek an internship based on the learning experience that it would offer, rather than on the amount of compensation that was provided.
“I think the college should help students find and complete the internships that will help them learn the most,” Shaheen said. “If that is an unpaid internship, then I think the college should help them take advantage of that opportunity, but I do feel that the internship should be approved before the scholarship is awarded.”
Shaheen added that, for him, the tuition grant made very little difference in which internship he would accept.
“I would have taken an unpaid position without the scholarship,” Shaheen said. “Getting paid would be nice, but I will choose the position that gives me the best working experience.”