The Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund (SIF) enables undergraduate (CC, SEAS, GS) students to pursue a quality unpaid or low paid summer internship at a high growth, innovative startup company.  

For the purpose of this program the term startup will be defined as a company that has been in existence for 5 years or less, is growing quickly but whose ultimate success is not yet assured. Please note that this definition is not limited to technology companies and can be applied to a variety of industries—for profit or not for profit.

FEATURES

Through the Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund students are awarded stipends via a competitive process which includes a written application and review by a committee of staff from across campus.

The Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund: 

  • Supports undergraduate students who have secured unpaid or low paid summer internships
  • Provides stipends ranging from $500 to $5,000 based on the nature of the internship and demonstrated student need
  • Focuses on support for international  engineering internships and research opportunities, though U.S. based experiences will also be considered.

All qualified students who apply to the Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund and receive Columbia grant-based financial aid with a summer work expectation (Student Contribution) are encouraged to also apply for a Work Exemption Program (WEP) grant. Students do not need to submit a separate application to the Work Exemption Program. Simply check the Work Exemption Program box on your funding program application form to be considered. The WEP grant will replace a student’s summer work expectation (Student Contribution). 

Institutional funding through this program is made available with the sole intention of supporting students’ living expenses (such as housing, food and travel expenses).  This support enables students to participate in unpaid or low paid opportunities.  Funding is not provided in lieu of compensation for work and supervisors are required to acknowledge in the Employer Verification Form that participating organizations are compliant with the US Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and other applicable state and local legislation.

DONORS

Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund awards are made possible thanks to the generosity of Columbia alumni/ae, parents, and friends. 

RESOURCES

Here are a few suggestions to search for unpaid or low paid internships in the startup sector.

ELIGIBILITY

Criteria Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund Work Exemption Program
Currently registered Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students in good academic and disciplinary standing 

        ♦

     ♦

Currently registered General Studies students in good academic and disciplinary standing 

        ♦

 
Rising sophomore, junior or senior

        ♦

     ♦

Minimum 3.0 GPA

        ♦

 
Recipient of Columbia grant-based financial aid *

        ♦

     ♦

Secured an unpaid internship at a startup** prior to the application deadline

        ♦

     ♦

Secured a low paid (less than minimum wage) internship at a startup** prior to the application deadline

        ♦

 
Work committment of at least 15 hours/week during the summer (for partial funding/WEP grant)

        ♦

     ♦

* If you are unsure if you receive grant-based financial aid, please contact the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid & Educational FinancingGeneral Studies students, contact the GS Financial Aid office.

** For the purpose of this program a startup is defined as a company that has been in existence for 5 years or less and is growing quickly but whose ultimate success is not yet assured. 

The following opportunities are not eligible for the columbia undergraduate startup internship fund or work exemption program:

  • Any opportunity that is a component of an academic program of study or for which course credit is being offered (including research conducted for the sole purpose of a senior thesis project).
  • Any opportunity that is not compliant with the US Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employers must sign and acknowledge compliance when completing the employer verification form.
  • On-campus extra-curricular activities (exceptions include CU EMS and the Double Discovery Center)

  • Any academic or experiential endeavor that requires a student to pay to participate in the program

  • Opportunities that support partisan political activity or that involve proselytizing, preaching or missionary work on behalf of a religious organization

  • An opportunity where you will be supervised by a classmate, peer, family member or friend

APPLICATION PROCESS & TIMELINE

PROGRAM AVAILABILITY

The Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund accepts applications for summer internships only. 

APPLICATION DEADLINE

Monday, April 16, 2018 at 11:59 pm. 

APPLICANTS NOTIFIED OF THEIR STATUs

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS

To apply, complete the common CCE funding program application form.

Remember to check off the box to also be considered for a WEP grant, if you are eligible. Be prepared to upload: 

  • Resume — For resume help, please feel free to utilize CCE’s walk-in hours or schedule an appointment with a counselor. You can also review CCE’s Design Your Next Steps guide. 
  • Personal statement — see prompts below.
  • Budget form — Include all expenses necessary for the completion of your internship. 
  • Employer Verification form — This online form must be completed by your direct supervisor.  Please forward the link to your employer.
  • One letter of recommendation— Please forward link to you recommender. We will not accept letters of recommendation written by family members, friends, resident hall advisors, student leaders, members of student organizations or classmates. Your letter of recommendation must be on official letterhead, dated and signed.

Personal Statement Instructions

Your statement should be limited to three pages, double-spaced. Include the prompts outlined below in your essay to ensure you answer all questions thoroughly. 

Description of the opportunity

  • describe the organization, your role, and responsibilities;
  • describe your duties, projects to be completed and deadlines; and
  • explain why you want to intern at this organization.

Learning Objectives

  • what do you intend to learn from this experience?
  • what are your goals and how do they align with your academic interests and/or career plans?

Supervision

  • describe the supervision you will receive.
  • what kind of instruction, assistance and training will you receive and from whom? 
  • explain how and when you will be evaluated.

conclusion

  • explain why you should be considered for this program; 
  • explain how  your plans will be affected if you do not receive funding; and
  • address your committement to completing required webshops, submitting a donor thank you letter and a budget reconciliation.

Late or incomplete applications and applicants who do not meet required criteria will not be considered.

By submitting an application, you authorize the Center for Career Education to conduct academic, disciplinary and financial aid checks to confirm program eligibility and inform funding decisions. Certain University policy violations may disqualify you from consideration for this program.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS PLANNING OVERSEAS TRAVEL

In accordance with the new Undergraduate International Travel Policy all students traveling overseas through a Columbia led, Columbia facilitated and/or recognized program must submit a school sponsorship application 4-weeks prior to departure.**

Once you have received confirmation of your school sponsorship, log in to the Undergraduate Travel Web App to complete:

  • Online Pre-Departure Orientation
  • Sign the Assumption of Risk, Waiver, and Release form

Additionally, all students must:

  • Register your travel (including side trips) through International SOS
  • Confirm that, while abroad, you will be covered by a health insurance policy that also provides coverage outside the United States for routine, urgent and emergency care.

It is critical that you thoroughly familiarize yourself with the Undergraduate International Travel Policy and complete all steps outlined above. For related questions, contact utrc@columbia.edu.

If you do not submit a School Sponsorship application and complete all subsequent pre-departure requirements, you may face disciplinary action.

*Graduate students participating in a Columbia led, Columbia facilitated and/or recognized program such as STEP are also required to complete a school sponsorship application. This policy does not replace any additional requirements from a student’s home school. Graduate students, including Columbia Engineering graduate students, are encouraged to check in with their home school prior to finalizing any travel arrangements.

** Students applying to CCE funding programs with overseas opportunities who plan to travel in May should apply for school sponsorship by the funding program application deadline. Submitting a school sponsorship application does not guarantee you will receive funding. Similarly receiving CCE funding does not guarantee approval of your school sponsorship application. Please note that school sponsorship applications related to CCE funding programs will not be approved unless the student receives a CCE funding award. Students who submit a school sponsorship application and do not receive a CCE funding award must withdraw their school sponsorship application unless they are also part of the CEO or STEP programs. In those cases, sponsorship applications should not be withdrawn.

FAQs

I need to confirm acceptance to my internship program prior to the  application deadline. Can the columbia undergraduate startup internship fund Committee review my application early?

Regrettably, we cannot review your application prior to the Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund deadline. All applications are reviewed collectively by a committee who meets after the application deadline. It would not be possible to convene the committee to review your application in isolation. The timeline for Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund applications is based on internship deadlines for the majority of students. 

I do not receive Financial Aid; however, I can demonstrate financial need. Can I still apply for an award?

To be eligible for the Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund, you must receive Columbia grant-based financial aid. This is one of the requirements of the alumni who donate to the fund.

Can I apply to both the Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund and the Work Exemption Program?

All qualified students who apply to the Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund are encouraged to also apply for a Work Exemption Program (WEP) grant. Students do not need to submit a separate application to the Work Exemption Program. Simply check the Work Exemption Program box on your funding program application form to be considered. The WEP grant will replace a student’s summer work expectation (Student Contribution). 

My internship provides a modest stipend. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes. The committee will consider funding students with low paid internships. “Low paid” is generally defined a salary less than minimum wage. 

How competitive is the columbia undergraduate startup internship fund program?

The Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund program is highly selective and funding is limited. Interested students are encouraged to submit a strong, well-written personal statement that clearly articulates their internship and their goal in pursuing this opportunity.

I received a funding program award last year. Can I apply again?

As long as you meet all of the eligibility requirements, you can apply again for funding.

Would you recommend submitting a letter of recommendation from a professor or an employer?

Your letter of recommendation should come from the person who knows you best, can speak well of your academic, extracurricular and professional accomplishments, and who can comment on your character such as a professor, advising dean or supervisor. We advise against asking a teacher/coach from high school to write your recommendation. We will not accept letters of recommendation written by family members, friends, resident hall advisors, student leaders, members of student organizations or classmates. Your letter of recommendation must be on official letterhead, dated and signed. Your recommender should upload your letter of recommendation directly to us.

If you are reapplying to receive the WEP grant for an opportunity for a consecutive semester (such as summer continuing into fall; fall continuing into spring; spring continuing into summer) you do not need to submit a new recommendation for the same opportunity. The WEP committee will review the feedback your supervisor provided during the mid-semester check-in.

Are there any fellowships that would cover expenses for a winter break and /or spring semester unpaid internship?

Eligible students can apply to the Work Exemption Program for exemption of their in-school work expectation during the fall and spring semesters. The Fellowships Office also has a comprehensive database of opportunities and their staff are available to meet with students.

Are there additional funding sources available to supplement a Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund award?

Yes, there are numerous fellowships and grants available to fund summer opportunities. The Fellowships Office also has a comprehensive database of opportunities and their staff are available to meet with students. Students could also reach out to professors, departmental administrators and teaching assistants to learn of fellowships and/or awards in their field of study. General Studies has a directory and resources for fellowship opportunities.

I am not eligible to apply. I really want to do an unpaid internship this summer; however, without funding, it will not be possible for me to pursue this opportunity. What do you recommend?

The Fellowships Office also has a comprehensive database of opportunities and their staff are available to meet with students. Students could also reach out to professors, departmental administrators and teaching assistants to learn of fellowships and/or awards in their field of study. General Studies has a directory and resources for fellowship opportunities.