When Samantha Meyerson ’15 took on an internship with the New York Stage and Film Company’s costume shop for its summer season at Vassar College, she knew it would open doors for her in the theater world. But the $200 pay didn’t come close to covering living expenses, and working 12- to 14-hour days, six days a week, made it impossible to get a part-time job.
Meyerson (Easton, Pa.), a double major in history and theater, received a summer internship stipend provided by the Class of 2014 senior gift, which helped defray her costs. Without it, she says, the experience would have been a financial burden for her family. She plans to look for theater work in New York City and London after interning this summer with the Aspen Opera and Music Festival in Aspen, Colo., also in its costume shop.
Meyerson isn’t alone. For many students, the cost of living—often in expensive cities—makes gaining critical internship experience at best a financial burden, or, at worst, unattainable altogether.
Since 2006, the graduating class has earmarked a portion of its senior class gift for summer internship stipends. In that time, the fund has supported more than 100 students. This summer, the Class of 2015 gift, which is more than $6,000, will help almost a dozen students. In addition to the senior class gift, there are 11 other internship stipends available to students.
“Stipends can be a game-changer,” says Erin Evans, associate director of the Gateway Career Center. “Real-world experience often comes in the form of unpaid or low-paying summer internships, and many students rely on the generosity of alumni and other students who help make Lafayette affordable through scholarships and stipends.”
Raymond Macharia ’15 (Nairobi, Kenya), a computer science major, believes his summer internship made his résumé stand out when he interviewed with Chicago-based consulting firm ThoughtWorks, where he will work as a programmer after graduation. Macharia received a stipend from the Class of 2013 senior gift to help defray costs while working at The Pearl Dream in New York City. Started by engineering graduate Brian Asingia ’12 and computer science graduate Franco Abott ’11, the online entertainment company collects, curates, and publishes traditional African folklore on digital media.
“I helped build a product from the ground up,” says Macharia. “We migrated the website to a new platform, kicked off marketing campaigns, and even set up distribution pipelines. Someday, I’d like to start my own company, too, and I will certainly draw from my lessons at The Pearl Dream.”
Abby Williams ’15 (Sacramento, Calif.) will use the experience she gained as an intern in her new role as an associate project manager at Suvoda, a medical clinical trial software firm co-founded by biology graduate Rob Hummel ’06 and biochemistry graduate Mark Lisi ’08 in Conshohocken, Pa.
At Suvoda, Williams will liaise between pharmaceutical companies and in-house software engineers to find solutions for client needs. Among her duties during her internship with the William E. Simon & Sons investment firm in Morristown, N.J., and William E. Simon Foundation in New York City was restructuring the layout and content of the foundation’s website. That required her to communicate between her supervisors, including Peter Simon ’75, CEO of William E. Simon & Sons and a Lafayette trustee, and the website designer responsible for the coding.
Williams, a double major in policy studies and neuroscience, received a stipend from the Class of 2014, which helped her maintain an apartment in Morristown that dramatically reduced her commute time. Without the stipend, she could not have lived so close to her internship.