Liberal Arts Career Services is offering scholarships to cover unpaid internships

Tehreem Shahab

Nicky Pownall, an international relations and global studies junior, was one of thousands in Houston whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Pownall wrote about the difficulties that went into rebuilding her house in her application for the Liberal Arts Career Services’ unpaid internship scholarship — and she received $950 for it.

“My house got severely flooded,” Pownall said. “We’re still rebuilding … so having gone through a couple of hardships recently, it was really nice to not have to worry about not getting money as much.” 

The LACS scholarship offers liberal arts students up to $1,000 for unpaid internships and became available to students last summer. One of the students to benefit is Pownall, who also applied for and received scholarships from Liberal Arts Honors and Innovations for Peace and Development. In total, she earned about $7,000, enough to cover her trip expenses to Tanzania where she interned for an educational entertainment non-profitcalled Ubongo.

LACS Assistant Director Tatem Oldham said not every student can afford to take on unpaid internships.

“We realize financial considerations make it difficult for some students to pursue unpaid opportunities and we want to do everything we can to help,” Oldham said in an email. 

Alyssa Ashcraft, a government and humanities junior, did not apply for the LACS unpaid internship scholarship, but also said she had been struggling to pay for college.

“I was taking out loan after loan my freshman year,” Ashcraft said.

Ashcraft applied for stipends through other agencies such as Texas Exes, Senate of College Councils and Liberal Arts Honors. She said she received about $7,000 through these stipends and interned in Thailand for a health and human rights non-profit called Apcom.

Ashcraft said LACS has a lot of options for students but it is important to also keep an eye out for any scholarship opportunities.

“It’s definitely hard and you can get frustrated,” Ashcraft said. “I keep a database of anything I’ve ever gotten or anything anyone has ever told me about, in case I become eligible for it one day.” 

Hubbul Rizvi, a Student Government liberal arts representative, said LACS offers many outlets with information about internships and scholarships, such as listservs for pre-law students who may be looking for jobs or law school workshops to attend. However, Rizvi said students may not always know about these resources because they are not always advertised well. 

“I think the problem is the outreach,” government junior Rizvi said. “I think it’s important that they actually brand it well and let students know that these listservs are available for them.” 

Oldham said one of the ways LACS is increasing accessibility to students is by having improved its recruiting platform last summer, which will allow students to schedule career coaching appointments online instead of calling or visiting the LACS office. 

“I think students will find (the platform) more user-friendly,” Oldham said in an email. “The new platform also has some additional features, including allowing students to personalize their profiles to target their career interests and skills. When students log in they receive notifications about recommended jobs based on their qualifications and the types of jobs to which they’ve been applying.”