What is experiential learning?
An umbrella term to include hands-on learning outside of the classroom that enhances your academic experience. The experience can vary in length but is designed to be a specific period of time and have learning outcomes.
Why is experiential learning important?
These opportunities help you to clarify your career goals, gain valuable experience and skills to become a stronger candidate when applying for full-time jobs and graduate school, and expand your network.
The Scholarship for Unpaid Internships program provides financial support to students who would not be able to participate in an internship experience in their chosen field without it. University Career Services strongly encourages all employers to provide paid internships; however, this is not possible or realistic in many fields of interest to our students.
Preference is given to students seeking their FIRST internship/career experience in their chosen field of interest and/or demonstration of financial hardship incurred by taking on an unpaid internship. Students may receive up to $1000 during the fall and spring semesters and up to $3000 during the summer term.
The Unpaid Internship Scholarship is open to all students (undergraduate and graduate) pursuing an unpaid internship in an upcoming term and that meet the criteria listed below.
- Minimum 2.0 GPA
- Currently enrolled, degree-seeking student
How to apply
University Career Services receives applications through Handshake during separate application cycles for each academic term the scholarship is available (fall, spring, and summer). Students do not need to have secured an internship at the time of application for the scholarship.
The application cycles for the 2020 - 21 academic year are as follows:
- Fall 2020 Internships: July 1 - August 3, 2020
- Spring 2021 Internships: November 1 - December 1, 2020
- Summer 2021 Internships: March 1 - April 1, 2021
Application Questionnaire, including the following questions:
What type of internship are you seeking and why is participating in an internship important to your current career goals?
What are some professional skills you hope to develop with this internship and why? Including, but not limited to the Career Readiness Competencies - Career Readiness Defined, today’s employers are looking for: critical thinking/problem solving, oral/written communication, teamwork/collaboration, digital technology, professionalism/work ethic, career management, global/intercultural fluency.
The selection committee will be considering the financial need of the applicant when selecting scholarship awardees. How would this award impact your ability to participate in an unpaid internship experience?
- Current Resume (should be up to date)
- Recent Letter of Recommendation (academic or professional)
Applicants will be notified of the selection committee's decision approximately 30 days after the close of the application cycle.
Notes: Students are responsible for securing their own unpaid internship and completing the process to receive academic credit for the internship experience (optional).
This scholarship is considered financial aid and receipt of an award may have an effect on your existing financial aid package. Awardees will be required to provide proof they have secured an unpaid internship before any monies will be disbursed. Funds will be applied to awardees’ Mason student account at the beginning of the term when the student will be completing the internship and must be applied to any outstanding balance on the account before being disbursed directly to the student. Additional details will be provided to selected applicants.
In addition, each fall and spring semester, our Career Fair hosts over 200 employers offering jobs and internships for Mason students. Smaller industry-specific fairs are also held throughout the year. Be sure to check the employer participant lists for each fair.
Looking outside of the area? Try Career Shift. This tool searches every career site and job board!
Speak with your academic advisor and check the course catalog to see if you can get academic credit for your internship experience within your major.
You should pursue internship opportunities as early as freshman year! Over 1,000 positions posted in Handshake each year are only for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors.
Look for paid opportunities. 58% of positions posted in Handshake are paid and the average national hourly wage for bachelor's degree-level interns is $18.06. Do a local internship during the fall or spring when your housing is already covered. Also, speak with an academic advisor about receiving credit toward your degree or major requirements for doing an internship which may free up time to continue your paid job while interning.
Prioritize completing an internship over other activities for at least one semester or summer. Internships can be part-time or full-time. Don't forget to consult with an academic advisor about receiving credit for an internship.
Instead of just applying to advertised internships, proactively contact organizations about doing an internship with them as they may be more willing to accommodate your class or work schedule if you are essentially volunteering a few hours of your time to assist them with a project. Job shadowing or attending a site visit through the Employer Site Visits program are other options.
Experiential Learning Opportunities
Receive transcript recognition for a paid co-op, internship, Pathways position, or federal volunteer internship which is not for academic course credit. Certain requirements apply.
Spend a day with a professional in a job or company that interests you. Some organizations offer a formal externship program varying in length, usually one to three days. You can also connect with someone in the company to set up a job shadow on your own or participate in a site visit through the Employer Site Visit Program.
There are hundreds of positions for students on campus. Use Handshake to find and apply to them and begin building your resume!
Community-based learning includes volunteer service, community based research, and any other avenues of applying course-related skills to assist local (and sometimes global) service organizations. You can also receive course credit for community based learning.
Solidify your academic and career interests by gaining research experience alongside faculty members. Research opportunities are particularly recommended if you are considering graduate school.
Semester or summer-long study abroad experiences provide the unique opportunity for cultural immersion and language acquisition during an extended stay in a foreign country.
It is recommended to complete at least one internship before you graduate in order to prepare for the professional world. Internships can be part-time or full-time, during the semester or summer, and provide knowledge and hands-on experience in a particular career field or organization.