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

The Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund has limited availability and the application process is highly selective. The fund has been made possible thanks to the generosity of donors who desire to foster students’ participation in unpaid and low paid summer internships at startup companies.

Undergraduate students selected as Startup Internship Fund award recipients must:

  • Complete a webshop prior to formally accepting their award; 
  • Submit a thank you letter to their donor upon completion of the internship; and
  • Complete a budget reconciliation detailing their summer expenses.

The Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund:

  • Supports undergraduate students who have already secured unpaid or low-paying summer internships at startups (see definition above)
  • Provides stipends ranging from $500 to $5,000, depending on the nature of the internship and demonstrated student need

The Columbia College Alumni & Parent Internship Fund does not replace the Work Exemption Program (WEP). Undergraduate students who apply to the Columbia College Alumni & Parent Internship Fund are encouraged, but not required, to apply to the WEP as well. 

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.

Resources

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

Eligibility

  • Currently registered Undergraduate students (Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, School of General Studies) 
  • Rising sophomore, junior, or senior in good academic and disciplinary
  • Minimum 3.0 G.P.A.
  • A recipient of Columbia grant-based financial aid. If you are unsure if you receive grant-based financial aid, please CC and SEAS students should contact the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid & Educational Financing. General Studies students, contact the GS Financial Aid office.
  • Have secured an unpaid or low-paid (less than minimum wage) summer internship prior to the application deadline.
    • 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 Columbia Undergraduate Startup Internship Fund:

  • Supports undergraduate students who have already secured unpaid or low-paying summer internships at startups (see definition above)
  • Provides stipends ranging from $500 to $5,000, depending on the nature of the internship and demonstrated student need

The Startup Internship Fund does not replace the Work Exemption Program (WEP). Undergraduate students who apply to the Startup Internship Fund are encouraged, but not required, to apply to the WEP as well. 

Application Process & Timeline

PROGRAM AVAILABILITY

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

APPLICATION DEADLINE

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 11:59 pm. 

APPLICANTS NOTIFIED OF THEIR STATUs

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS

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

Students are encouraged to apply to all CCE funding programs for which they 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 Career Planning 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 SIF 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.

Please note, 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 the SIF program.

Important Information for Students Planning Overseas Opportunities

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.

*Graduate students participating in a Columbia led, Columbia facilitated and/or recognized program such as CUGO and 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 April 12th (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, STEP, or CU GO programs. In those cases, sponsorship applications should not be withdrawn.

FAQ

I need to confirm acceptance to my internship program prior to the SIF deadline. Can the SIF Committee review my application early?

We cannot review your application prior to the SIF deadline. All applications are reviewed collectively by a committee who meets after the application deadline.  The timeline for SIF 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 SIF award?

To be eligible for the SIF program, you must receive Columbia grant-based financial aid. 

Can I apply to both SIF and the Work Exemption Program?

Yes. Eligible students are encouraged to apply to both programs. The WEP grant will cover your summer work expectation. The SIF award provides funding for your summer living expenses.

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

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

If I apply to the Work Exemption Program, do I need to submit a separate application for SIF? Can I use the same materials?

Yes, there is a common application form for all funding programs. Students complete one application form and can apply to all funding programs for which they are eligible. Students may submit one personal statement that addresses the funding program(s) to which they are applying.

How competitive is the SIF program?

The SIF 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 SIF 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 and extracurricular accomplishments and who can comment on your character.

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 SIF 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 to SIF. 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.