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Northwestern University

Grants Fund Summer Internships

With the recent passing of her father, Alison Brockman ’17 knew family finances were tight.

So even though Brockman had long been interested in a career in government, she dismissed the idea of a public sector internship this past summer, given that such opportunities rarely pay. 

That all changed when Brockman, a triple-major in economics, political science and international studies, received a $3,000 grant through Northwestern’s Summer Internship Grant Program. 

The grant allowed Brockman to trade a summer back home in Omaha for a position in the United Kingdom’s Trade & Investment division in Chicago. “The grant allowed me to take a shot on an internship that offered an incredible opportunity,” Brockman said.

Brockman was one of more than 250 students — 120 from Weinberg College alone — to receive summer internship grants from Northwestern in 2015. The grants, which ranged from $3,000 to $6,000, allowed students to pursue compelling unpaid summer internship opportunities with organizations such as National Public Radio, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the Institute for Public Health and Medicine without a cloud
of financial pressure hovering over their heads. 

This year was a banner year for the grant program, which more than tripled the number of internships that it was able to fund in 2014. Increased support from the University, as well from alumni such as Roberta Buffett Elliott ’54 and the Buffett Institute, allowed many more students to take advantage of internship opportunities. 

“It’s about leveling the playing field and making sure opportunities are available for all of our students, regardless of their backgrounds,” said Northwestern Career Advancement executive director Mark Presnell.

Those students included computer science major Navin Gopaul ’18, who, with the help of a $3,000 award, spent eight weeks with New York-based Nibbly, an ambitious startup developing a Tinder-like app for restaurants. Gopaul found that the grant allowed him to focus on building important career skills without also having to hold down a paying part-time job. 

“I was able to really dig in and learn about the tech field, which is important for someone like myself who has so much to experience and learn,” Gopaul said.

Presnell hopes the grants will allow students to build the professional track records so many employers prize and to gain the self-knowledge they need to make informed career decisions.

“As an institution of higher learning, we need to encourage our students to complete meaningful internships in all fields while removing financial constraints,” Presnell said.   

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