Undergraduates at the University of Rochester gained valuable internship experiences this summer that would not have been possible without special funds and the support of the University's Career Center.
Twelve distinct Reach for Rochester Internship Funds, each with specific requirements, are available thanks to the generous gifts from University friends and alumni. These endowed funds produce more than $70,000 annually to support varied internship options. As a result, formerly low-paid or unpaid internships are now financially as well as experientially profitable.
Many of the internships made possible through Reach Funds this year fell within community service and not-for-profit agencies in Rochester as well as in major metropolitan areas, including New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Students obtained funding for positions within academe, research groups, health services, law, business, and communication settings.
Geoffrey Gray, a junior who worked as a summer intern, said: "Finding a paying internship dedicated to community service is rare. You have to turn over many stones, and the process can become frustrating and unappealing."
Gray benefited from the Career Center's Kearns Reach Fund to finance his otherwise unpaid internship at a newspaper in Ithaca, N.Y. He called the experience exciting and valuable.
Reach Funds represent a new twist on a longstanding University commitment to supporting its undergraduates seeking to create career exploration and skill-building internship opportunities. Under this revised approach, students seek internships that appeal to their career interests, obtain offers from prospective employers, and then apply for appropriate funds through the University's Career Center.
Thus, by responding to more than 1,000 postings accessed through a user-friendly and sophisticated Web-driven database and by creating their own opportunities, students gain enhanced resume writing, employer communication, and interview skills prior to getting meaningful internships. Many students created their own internships by communicating with faculty, networking with alumni, or through assertive and creative contacts with varied organizations.
Burton Nadler, assistant dean and director of the Career Center, described Reach for Rochester as "one of the first offerings of its kind in the nation, yet one which we will continue to improve in order to empower students to identify, seek, and complete meaningful internships."
Nadler added: "We too often hear students stating, 'I can't afford to do a volunteer internship.' Reach Funds allow those who may have been passive as a result of this belief to be active and successful internship seekers, hopeful that funds would be available. Many who apply for funds receive them, but others who might otherwise not have sought opportunities and who do not receive funding, still complete internships they locate."
Noah Lapidus, a senior psychology major interested in higher education administration, spent his internship at the University Health Service's health education and communication unit. Lapidus found out about Advantage Scholars, one of the many Reach Funds, through an informational meeting in his residence hall. This session inspired him to create his own internship and successfully apply for funds.
To Lapidus, internships like the one that was funded by the University of Rochester's Reach Funds are "hands-on experiences for students to learn to make connections from academics to practical realities and who learn about how to effectively find internships and, ultimately, post-graduation opportunities."
In all, approximately 50 students benefited from these special funds. For most, internships would not have been possible without the dollars provided.