William & Mary has received a $100,000 grant from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) to help transform federal work-study opportunities on campus into internships.

The program is expected to make access to internship opportunities more equitable for first-generation, limited-income and underrepresented students who may face logistical and financial barriers to off-campus internships. The goal is to help expand career pathways for such students so that they are ready to thrive in the 21st-century workforce.

The grant is part of the Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership (V-TOP) and was one of four totaling $250,000 recently awarded to institutions of higher education across the state to help make work-study jobs function more like internships, according to a SCHEV press release

“I am thrilled to see SCHEV invest in our students,” said Kathleen Powell, chief career officer and associate vice president for advancement. “Transforming federal work-study positions into internship-like opportunities removes barriers to career access and equity.”

William & Mary’s Office of Career Development & Professional Engagement is partnering with Financial Aid, Student Employment, the Center for Student Diversity and faculty to pilot the program over two years, beginning in January 2024. They will work with 39 campus programs and departments to turn current student jobs into work-study eligible internship positions.

Transforming the positions includes recalibrating the responsibilities and expectations, training supervisors based on National Association of Colleges and Employers guidelines and definitions and implementing a career competency rubric that will help interns apply what they are learning in the classroom in a professional setting. At the end of the semester, students will showcase what they have learned through a paper, poster or a PowerPoint presentation.

The internships are available to freshmen and sophomore students who are first-generation or come from limited-income and underrepresented backgrounds and have been awarded federal work-study funding. The internships are expected to span two years, and students may stay in the same position or switch to another eligible internship during that time.

“The Transforming Federal Work-Study grant will enhance our capacity to create career pathways for our students,” said Philip Heavilin II, director of internships and applied learning at William & Mary. Heavilin will lead the new program with the help of a working group. “We look forward to partnering with our campus colleagues in developing internship experiences that build the career and social capital necessary to lead impactful lives after graduation.”

Careers is one of four cornerstone initiatives of William  & Mary’s Vision 2026 strategic plan. One of the goals of the initiative is to provide a funded internship or other applied learning experience for every undergraduate by 2026. This spring, Princeton Review named William & Mary the best public institution for internships for the third consecutive year.

According to research, internships have been shown to enhance career readiness and employability, and funding internships provides first-generation, low-income and students from historically marginalized groups an opportunity to engage in applied learning experiences that they may not be able to otherwise.

William & Mary has long been working to provide students with internship funding through such programs as the Funding for Unpaid and Underfunded Student Experiences (F.U.S.E.) program. This new SCHEV grant will allow W&M to expand those efforts and continue seeking ways to make internships equally accessible.

This is the second group of the Transforming Federal Work-Study grant awards awarded by SCHEV. The other institutions to receive grants in this round included Longwood University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech.

According to the SCHEV press release, the purpose of the grants is to expand paid and credit-bearing student internships and other work-based learning opportunities.  

“Many underrepresented and first-generation students must prioritize financial aid work-study commitments over other experiential or work-based learning opportunities,” said Alisha Bazemore, assistant director of innovative work-based learning initiatives at SCHEV, in the release.

“This effort is meant to break down those barriers, transforming on-campus jobs by improving connections to coursework.” 

For more information about the William & Mary program, students should contact Heavilin. An internships & applied learning showcase and expo are planned for Nov. 15 in the Sadler Center.

, Senior Associate Director of University News