Grants Encourage Students to Pursue Non-Paid Internships

Knowledge in Action Internship Recipients

In the spring of 2014, Madison Boggs, BA ’14, honed her research and problem solving skills at a leading organization in the global fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. As a Global Hotlines Fellow at Polaris Project, Madison researched and identified anti-trafficking organizations in other countries, designed and oversaw small projects, wrote protocols, and trained incoming staff and fellows to work on the non-profit’s database.

Her internship, like many pursued by GW students, was necessarily unpaid, meaning that she worked without income for food, housing, or other basic costs. It’s a daunting proposition for many college interns, but at GW, students are having that burden alleviated.

Madison and seven other GW students gained practical, hands-on experience this spring after being awarded Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund (KACIF) grants, the second cohort of students to receive KACIF grants since the fund was started in 2013.

“Serving as a fellow on the global team at Polaris Project was an invaluable experience, made possible by the KACIF award,” says Madison. “This fellowship has led me to working on an issue that I am extremely passionate about, in a position that I love.”

Reducing Financial Challenges

Established to reduce the financial challenges associated with unpaid internships, KACIF encourages GW students to pursue high-quality, necessarily unpaid internships that foster their career exploration and enhance their academic studies.

Necessarily unpaid internships are typically those with non-profit, governmental, educational, and non-governmental organizations that genuinely lack the financial resources to pay salaries or wages to their interns. Forty-five GW students participated in such internships during the summer 2013 and spring 2014 semesters thanks to KACIF grants.

Recipients included undergraduate and graduate students from more than 20 majors and fields of study, representing the Elliott School of International Affairs, Columbian College of Arts & Sciences, School of Business, Milken Institute School of Public Health, Law School, School of Medicine & Health Sciences, Graduate School of Education & Human Development, and the College of Professional Studies.

Preparation for the Workplace

“The Knowledge in Action Fund is important because it enables students to pursue necessarily unpaid internships without the financial burden. It also signals that GW supports students in their endeavors to better prepare for the workplace,” said Danica Brown, BA ‘14, who interned in the Office of Policy Integration at AARP thanks to a KACIF grant.

Grants awarded by KACIF are made possible by the philanthropic support of GW parents, alumni, the Board of Trustees, and friends.

“The overwhelming support for the Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund demonstrates that the GW community understands the value afforded to students who explore internship experiences in their chosen fields of interest,” said Rachel Brown, Career Services Council chair and assistant provost for university career services. “We hope that this fund inspires GW students to pursue unpaid internships without concerns about financial constraints.”

To learn about how you can support the Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund grants, contact or make a gift today.