A recent $1M alumni gift to William & Mary (W&M) to support internships and applied learning will triple the funding available to students with unfunded and underfunded internships.
With this gift, the W&M Office of Career Development & Professional Engagement will support more than 100 students with unpaid and underpaid internships this summer, giving them access to valuable work experience they otherwise may not have been able to accept. In comparison, the office supported 33 students who had unfunded summer internship experiences in 2019.
Kathleen Powell, W&M’s chief career officer, says the gift from Darpan Karpadia, a 1995 graduate of W&M, ties directly to the school’s strategic plan, Vision 2026, and its Careers Initiative.
“We are so grateful to Darpan and his philanthropy to scale our internship and applied learning program and for being a difference maker,” Powell says.
“W&M’s value proposition is that we will be known as one of the best universities in the nation for lifelong career engagement. We support that value proposition by guaranteeing a funded internship or applied learning experience for every eligible undergraduate student.”
According to Powell, Kapadia’s philanthropy was motivated by W&M’s career goals as part of Vision 2026 and what he has learned as vice chair of the W&M Foundation’s scholarships subcommittee.
“This group has placed a significant emphasis on the need to fund the complete student experience, in addition to scholarships,” she says.
“The Careers Initiative aims for 85% of graduating seniors to have completed an internship or other hands-on learning opportunity by 2026. Darpan’s gift is a signal to the W&M community and the outside world that internships and applied learning matter and institutions are keenly aware of the importance of theory to practice.”
The gift will be dispersed directly to undergraduate students who have secured an unfunded or underfunded internship or applied learning experience. At W&M, “underfunded” is defined as any internship or applied learning experience that earns less than the current minimum wage.
Students will submit an application, a budget, and learning objectives, and participate in the Internship/Applied Learning Showcase to share their experiences. Each returning undergraduate student will be eligible for $5,000 during their academic career. The students will have the opportunity to use their funds to support their career pathway during their time at W&M.
“This gift is unprecedented for W&M and will have a significant impact on our students,” Powell points out.
“As we scale our internship and applied learning program, we regularly talk about career capital and social capital. This lead gift sets the stage for all students to experience an unpaid or underpaid internship during their W&M career without the burden of financial strain or worry.
“As we know from NACE data, unpaid internships are disproportionately held by women, first-gen, and underrepresented students, and paid interns receive 75% more job offers than non-interns. Essentially, what we’re accomplishing is level-set experiences for all our undergraduate students and removing barriers to career readiness.”