A Royal Experience

A new internship program enables students to choose the internship they really want.

Christopher Louin ’17
Christopher Louin ’17

When summer approaches, many students face an important decision: Should they pursue an unpaid internship in their field of choice to gain valuable, résumé-building skills, or choose a paying job that will provide much-needed income between semesters? 

Thanks to the establishment of the Royal Experience Summer Internship Program, this quandary was made easier for 13 Scranton students this year. Funded largely through the philanthropy of the Parents’ Executive Council, the new program aims to offset the financial burden that comes with unpaid work, offering a stipend of up to $4,000 to each qualifying award recipient. 

Kylie Mignat ’18 said it was a relief to know that she would receive financial assistance while interning at the TMH Law Offices in Scranton over the summer. Mignat, of Canadensis, a triple major in international studies, German cultural studies and Hispanic studies, hopes to pursue a career as an immigration attorney. Interning at the law firm enabled her to review closed cases and assist attorneys who were working on active files. 

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-1.15.51-pm.png“[The stipend] means the entire world to me because I had no other way of gaining any experience without this funding,” Mignat said. “This award has helped me to afford housing and food for the summer, as well as the attire I needed to enter my firm’s office and the special immigration court in Philadelphia.” 

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 65 percent of 2015 graduates interned while earning a bachelor’s degree. Though many internships offer a stipend, unpaid internships still remain common. NACE’s “Class of 2015 Student Survey” indicates that about 40 percent of internships or co-ops are unpaid, with significantly higher percentages of unpaid offerings in social services, education, government and similar fields. 

Christopher Louin ’17 of Doylestown fell into this category. The electronic commerce major spent the summer working in a government position after being offered a spot within the competitive Mayor’s Internship Program in the City of Philadelphia. Louin intentionally chose to bypass other internships — some of which offered a salary — to spend his summer where he felt he would be doing the most meaningful work. He began his summer working in the city’s records office, then moved to City Hall to assist with process optimization and group performance management projects. Louin believes the tasks fit particularly well with his minor in operations management. 

“I felt really proud to be chosen for the program. Knowing a check would come in really helped,” Louin said. “I spent a lot of money to get to my internship every day, including taking the train and parking. I knew it was unpaid, but it was such a great opportunity for me that I couldn’t pass it up.” 

Louin said the skills he acquired, and the contacts he made, will be advantageous when he is ready to find a job after graduation. 

Christina M. Whitney, director of The Gerard R. Roche Center for Career Development, said the Royal Experience Summer Internship Program was modeled after a successful program at Boston College. Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors in good academic standing, who had accepted a meaningful unpaid internship between eight and 12 weeks long with a minimum of 200 hours, were eligible to apply. 

Seventy-nine students threw their hats in the ring. The winning 13 students, noted Whitney, emerged as the cream of the crop. 

Selected students completed internships in myriad fields spanning the East Coast, including at a television station in Hilton Head, South Carolina, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in New York City and the Democratic National Committee in the District of Columbia. 

“It was a dream to start this program, to be very honest, and to see it come to fruition is amazing,” said Whitney. “It was so exciting when we contacted the students and told them they were selected — it was the best day of the year.” 

Whitney anticipates expanding the program, allowing more stipends to be awarded. Meanwhile, Mignat remains thankful that the Royal Experience Summer Internship Program, and those who contributed to it, gave her the chance to see firsthand what her future career might be like — without the worry. 

“It really gives excellent opportunities to students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the internship of their dreams,” said Mignat. “I never could have been able to afford to spend 10 weeks doing this internship without the help of these generous donors, and I am so thankful to them. I can only hope that others in the future can continue to receive the same gift I did this summer.” 


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