As part of its efforts to enhance career opportunities for students and embrace its value of service, William & Mary has secured funding for $500,000 in congressionally directed spending to support students pursuing national security careers. 

Championed by U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-Va.), this investment will grow the university’s current National Security Internship Program to create expanded pathways for students to gain valuable experiences with the U.S. government, including the military services and intelligence communities. 

Careers is one of four core initiatives in William & Mary’s Vision 2026 strategic plan, and the university’s work in that area has garnered national attention.

“I am incredibly proud of the model William & Mary has built to strengthen applied learning,” said W&M President Katherine A. Rowe. “This funding will support students interested in joining William & Mary’s distinguished tradition of public service. We are grateful to Senators Kaine and Warner for advocating on our behalf.”

Transformative opportunities to serve

With this congressionally directed funding, William & Mary will cultivate student talent within the region while serving as a key resource for government agencies seeking to grow a well-trained future workforce. 

“I’m thrilled to have secured $500,000 for the William & Mary National Security Internship Program, and I’m excited to watch as this partnership helps train the next generation of brilliant and qualified civil servants,” said Warner. “Particularly from my perspective as chair of the Intelligence Committee, I look forward to the work this program will do to create a talent pipeline that connects Virginia’s incredibly smart college students to our abundant opportunities across the military and intelligence fields.”

In partnership with the Office of Career Development and Professional Engagement and other campus units, the Whole of Government Center of Excellence (WGC) oversees the National Security Internship Program. WGC works with federal stakeholders and students to create transformative opportunities to serve the nation and Commonwealth of Virginia. This summer, more than 20 students are supported by the WGC for their experiences with Combatant Commands and War Colleges. 

“As a member of the Senate Armed Services and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees, expanding access to educational opportunities and strengthening our national security are among my top priorities,” said Kaine. “I’m glad to have worked with William & Mary to secure federal funding for stipends and mentors through their National Security Internship Program, which can help us do both. I’m looking forward to seeing how this program continues to foster students’ interests, provide more students with life-changing experiences, and grow America’s national security workforce.”

The expanded program will increase the number of opportunities available to students by providing stipends, mentorships and other vital resources. In addition to monetary assets, the internship program is intended to lead to an increased number of students with security clearances. 

The increase in security clearances will strengthen the pool of qualified candidates for national security projects, the intelligence community and military agencies, ultimately bolstering the nation’s security efforts. Students will also gain hands-on experience with national security projects and agencies, preparing them to excel in challenging roles within the federal government and related organizations.

“This program began more than 10 years ago with three students. Today, we are supporting more than 50 each year in organizations like European Command, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Air Combat Command-International Affairs and the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, among others,” said Kathryn H. Floyd, director of William & Mary’s Whole of Government Center of Excellence. “This appropriation is essential to truly scale our model and become the place where our federal partners turn for the most trusted young minds.” 

National leader in careers

In addition to the National Security Internship Program, William & Mary supports students in a multitude of applied learning opportunities offered through the Office of Career Development & Professional Engagement, the Global Research Institute, the Reves Center for International Studies, the Washington Center and others in a “whole of university” approach focused on students.

As part of its careers initiative, the university has committed to “lead in the preparation of lifelong learners equipped to navigate rapid change and thrive from their first job to their last.” That commitment includes a goal of providing a funded internship or other applied learning experience for every undergraduate by 2026.

According to a 2022 survey of four-year college students by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), hands-on experiences such as internships and applied learning opportunities contribute to successful career outcomes and achievements post-graduation. For example, the study found that paid interns averaged 1.61 job offers compared to .94 offers for unpaid interns and .77 offers for non-interns.

Approximately 61% of the Class of 2022 participated in experiential learning opportunities – such as applied research, internships, externships, field experience and student employment – across their four years at the university.

William & Mary has raised nearly $3 million over the last year and a half to support unpaid and underfunded internships for undergraduate students. Last year, the university announced a $1 million gift from Darpan Kapadia ’95 that tripled the number of students annually who can receive university funding for internships and other applied learning opportunities and substantially increased the number of individual grants available. 

“At our university, we don’t just educate students; we empower lifelong learners ready to conquer the challenges of an ever-evolving world,” said W&M Chief Career Officer Kathleen Powell. “Through our commitment to providing funded internships and applied learning experiences for every undergraduate by 2026, we’re not just preparing them for their first job, but for every job thereafter. Thanks to the generous support of our donors and the dedication of our community, we’re committed to expanding the horizons for our students. At William & Mary we are preparing the leaders of tomorrow, today.”

Rowe and Powell (center, front) take a photo with the Office of Career Development & Professional Engagement team. (Photo by Stephen Salpukas)

The university’s work in this area has drawn national attention. For three consecutive years, The Princeton Review has named William & Mary the best public university for internships, and new rankings from The Wall Street Journal count the university among the top 20 public institutions of higher education for high-paying jobs in finance, management consulting and technology. 

Praise for W&M’s career efforts goes all the way to the top. Last month, President Rowe was named the recipient of the 2024 Career Services Champion Award from NACE. 

According to the NACE website, the award is presented to “a college or university president or chancellor from an accredited institution of higher education who supports the establishment of and demonstrates forward-thinking leadership in support of career services/education.”

“It is so affirming to see William & Mary recognized for career services,” said Rowe. “This award goes to my many colleagues across our campus who are dedicated to this work, and I hope they find much inspiration in it.”

This is the third year in a row that NACE has recognized people and programs at William & Mary for their work around careers. Last year, NACE recognized the university with the Career Readiness Excellence Award for its Professional Development Week. In 2022, NACE honored Powell with The Kauffman Award.

“Receiving the 2024 Career Services Champion Award, in recognition of President Rowe and her unwavering support of lifelong career engagement, from the National Association of Colleges and Employers is not just a recognition for William & Mary, but a signal to universities across the country that a commitment to career development and dedicated support, and resources, creates a culture that fosters career and professional development at every level,” said Powell. 

“These accolades are a reflection of the dedication of our entire community towards empowering our students to thrive in a rapidly changing world. I am grateful for the continued support and recognition from NACE and to be a part of a university ecosystem that supports students and their career readiness.”