A photo of a woman wearing a hard hat and safety glasses.
Alyssa Cadua, a mechanical engineering student, served an internship at Dominion Energy last year. She was one of 79 students to benefit from VCU’s Internship Funding Program in 2023. (File photo)

VCU aims to support 100 students this summer through its Internship Funding Program

The program provides funding to students with unpaid or under-paid summer internships.

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Virginia Commonwealth University’s Internship Funding Program provides funds to undergraduate students for unpaid or underpaid summer internships, ensuring that VCU students’ financial needs won’t cause them to miss out on personal and career development opportunities.

“The VCU Internship Funding Program not only creates awareness and strengthens campus culture around regularly engaging in internship experiences, but it makes these high-impact opportunities possible for students who may otherwise not be able to quit or pause their current part-time job to take on an unpaid or low-paying internship,” said Samara Reynolds, executive director of VCU Career Services.

In its third year, the program is aiming to support 100 students for summer 2024 experiences. The deadline to apply via RAM Scholarship Hub is Monday, April 1, at 11:59 p.m. To apply, visit the program website.

“We have a goal of awarding 100 students funding for this summer — we had 51 awardees in 2022 and 79 in 2023 — so our most ever,” Reynolds said.  “VCU and the commonwealth continue to invest in and assert the importance of paid internship experiences in students’ career development and opening doors to the best possible opportunities after graduation.”

The program provides students with funding to offset costs for travel to their internship, housing, child care, professional attire, supplies and more. Recipients are selected through a competitive process that includes a written application and review by a committee of about 50 faculty and staff from over 20 different departments, schools/colleges and units across VCU.

For the first two years of the Internship Funding Program, most applicants were rising juniors and seniors. This year, the program encourages more first-year and sophomore students to apply, too, as well as any undergraduates considering their first internship experience.

Funded internship options are defined broadly by VCU and can be in-person, remote or hybrid internships in any field. They simply must be supervised, structured, work-based learning experiences that relate to the student’s exploration and pursuit of academic and career goals, Reynolds said.

The goal is to provide VCU students with “hands-on experience in the real world beyond all the great opportunities that VCU offers on campus throughout the year,” she said.

The Internship Funding Program is supported by a combination of donated funds, a new $100,000 grant from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, and VCU centralized support. In 2023, the program awarded more than $270,000 to 79 students. 

“In addition to unpaid internship support, we have had awardees receive competitive offers they wanted to accept for paid opportunities, but they needed additional financial support for the flight or housing deposit to actually get to the internship and be able to say yes,” Reynolds said.

VCU Career Services asked past recipients, as part of their post-internship assessment surveys, how the Internship Funding Program helped them. Their responses included:

  • “The IFP relieved so many of my financial worries. I was able to take time off from work and give my all to my internships, which reflected heavily in the work I produced during my internship.”
  • “The Internship Funding Program has been instrumental in my success during this internship. It helped me pay for rent in an expensive city like Washington, D.C., which would have otherwise been challenging. This financial assistance alleviated the burden and allowed me to fully focus on my work, making the most out of the internship experience. I am truly grateful for the support provided.”
  • “With the internship funding, I was able to purchase full suits for the company apparel code that they have. I invested in transportation with gas and other necessities, as well as funding for my apartment. Without it, I would not have been able to have such a successful summer.”
  • “It helped so much. Since the summer semester is much shorter than a regular semester, I needed to dedicate more time in the week to my internship instead of my job, so the funding gave me a peace of mind when knowing that my finances were still covered. I was really able to give this internship my all and my site supervisor said that everyone had noticed it, which is great positive feedback to me.”

For more information about the program, including how to apply, visit the program’s website.