By Savannah Christensen, marketing & communications intern for NCA
More than 450 undergraduate students* were awarded grants to pursue unpaid internships in their career field of interest as part of Northwestern Career Advancement’s Summer Internship Grant Program (SIGP). This year’s recipients represent the 12th—and largest—SIGP class since the program’s founding in 2007, when only 10 grants were awarded.
The 11-year-old program provides grants of at least $3,000 to cover students’ living and travel expenses during their internships, which take place across the country and around the world. In 2017, 90% of recipients reported that without support from SIGP they would either need to turn down their internship or pick up a second job.
“For students, having this kind of support can be the difference between working towards your ultimate career goals and not having that option,” says Eleni Vartelas, Northwestern Career Advancement assistant director of employer strategy and SIGP program coordinator. “We want students to have that option and without SIGP they wouldn’t.”
SIGP is funded through a variety of sources, including Northwestern alumni, staff, central administration, parents, and friends of the university. Major contributors include the Alumnae of Northwestern University, Council of One Hundred, Buffett Institute for Global Studies, and NU Club of Washington, D.C.
This summer, SIGP recipients will intern at organizations such as the Chicago Botanic Garden, Museum of Contemporary Art, United Nations Foundation, and hundreds more.
A look at some of 2018’s SIGP recipients
Alaina Arthurs, a rising junior double majoring in English and Linguistics, will spend this summer working at SIL International, a non-profit in Dallas, Texas that serves to preserve languages facing extinction.
“I hope that this experience will give me hands-on exposure to language research and will provide the opportunity to practically apply linguistic theories I’ve learned in an academic setting,” Arthurs says. “I also hope to gain a deeper appreciation for the important role of language in society and its significance for preserving the cultural uniqueness of people groups across the world.”
Rising SESP junior Elizabeth Blair will intern at GirlForward, a nonprofit which serves 9th-12th grade girls in Chicago’s diverse refugee community.
“I can’t emphasize enough that this opportunity would be financially impossible for me without SIGP. I rely heavily on financial aid to attend Northwestern, but unfortunately this aid doesn’t cover my summer living expenses,” Blair says. “Also, having a full-time, unpaid internship means I’m not earning money to cover everything. This is where SIGP comes in! It means I don’t have to worry about expenses and can instead focus on getting the best possible experience out of my summer internship.”
Dylan Gresik, a rising junior in Medill, will intern in the U.S. Senate, conducting research for possible legislation and handling constituent concerns.
“SIGP was absolutely influential in my decision to pursue an internship in Washington,” Gresik says. “Last summer, I was fortunate to receive SIGP, and this scholarship lessened the financial burden of working over the summer without pay. Knowing that most congressional internships were unpaid, I was encouraged to pursue them since I knew I could potentially be awarded SIGP due to the generous support from Northwestern Career Advancement.”
*Number of SIGP 2018 recipients was updated on June 25, 2018