Patricia Morizio was excited about traveling to Sydney, Australia, for an unpaid internship last summer, but wondered how she would scrape together the funds for travel and living expenses.
Melissa Morgante had also lined up an internship, at the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce in Manhattan, which offered priceless experience but no paycheck. She needed to find funds for travel and unexpected costs.
Both students found help from the Fordham University Office of Career Services, which gave five students stipends of $1,000 each in a pilot program made possible by a gift from the Financial Planning Association of New York (FPA).
Andrew Cronan, executive director of career services, is seeking funding to continue the stipends next summer because of the difference they made for the five students. He knew he had tapped into an urgent need when 44 students applied in the two weeks after he announced the stipends were available.
“A lot of students take internships that are unpaid,” he said Sept. 17 while addressing the FPA to give thanks for their gift.
Cronan said he wasn’t aware of any similar help offered through the University. Fordham offers no financial help for internships alone, according to the Office of Student Financial Services.
Unpaid work can offer rich experience. Morizio interned with the U.S. Department of State’s consulate in Sydney, where she helped with administrative duties and marketing and educational programs.
“It was just the kind of place I wanted to be, and just the kind of work I wanted to do,” said Morizio, a junior majoring in international political economy at Fordham College at Rose Hill. The stipend, one of several funding sources, enabled her to make the most of her trip by traveling and learning about the country, she said.
Morgante, a senior at Fordham College at Rose Hill also majoring in international political economy, got an immersion in the world of international business while interning at the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce. She researched foreign companies and learned about import/ export laws, among other things, and got to practice her Italian.
Given her school expenses, it was daunting to think of taking an unpaid internship. But the stipend made it possible.
“It would be hard to do without a stipend,” she said.
Two other students learned about business and marketing during internships with Gucci America and RUSH Communications. Another student delved into the world of politics by interning in the Washington, D.C. office of U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.).
In awarding the stipends, Cronan and his staff looked for detailed, specific appeals for the funds, along with compelling benefits such as a boost to a student’s future career. But still, it was a tough call.
“Everybody in the pool had a very legitimate need, and we’d love to help them all, but we had some tough decisions to make,” he said. “We’d like to grow and expand this program if we could.”