Matt Furlong ’10 writes:

As an occassional Ephblog reader, I appreciate, enjoy, and share your devotion to all things Williams. I think the following anecdote might interest the blogs

I, a first year Williams student, recently went to the Office of Career Counseling for advice on my summer plans. I had been offered an unpaid internship at NYC-based NGO, uNight, which advocates and runs programs for the victims of Northern Uganda’s 20-year-long civil war. I was and am excited by the possibility of doing important work this summer for a cause I am passionate about, but I needed (and need) money for housing. Housing for nine weeks at Columbia for students interning in the city, for instance is a minimum of $2450. The representative of the OCC that I talked to looked more sad than happy when I told him the news, however. His advice was to look ask my local church for money. This was honestly the best advice he could offer me. Of course, Williams has an excellent alumni internship program, with standard grants of over $3000.

First students are not eligible for these grants, though. And when I asked why that was so, he suggested that immaturity was an issue. I thought that was why one has to apply for a grant, rather than just being blindly handed one. I find the lack of support for (or is it discrimination against?) first-years strange and disheartening.

I would be happy to hear your feelings on this issue, or the readers of Ephblog.

I don’t have strong feelings on this one. If the money for unpaid internships is limited (by OCC policy or donor intent?), it is reasonable to restrict it on the basis of class year. Back in the day, students who wanted to do unpaid internships got paying jobs to support themselves and which did not conflict with the internship. They also found cheaper places to live than Manhattan. Yet, I am also happy to help serious students (like Furlong) with a passion for a poorly paying field (like NGO work in Uganda) to pursue their interests. I think that the advice to seek other funding was good and useful.


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