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The Price of an Unpaid Internship

040621-Summer Internship 2020-LWalker

When I heard that the internship I was offered at a non-profit campus ministry was unpaid, I was not sure I would be able to take it. I didn’t have enough in my savings to go a whole summer without working and still be able to pay my bills, and I didn’t want to put that burden on my parents. I thought I might have to turn it down or work a second job, but the board of directors highly discouraged second jobs, as it takes away from the experience. Interning at Christian Student Fellowship (CFS), a non-denominational campus ministry at Western Kentucky University, was going to be the opportunity that showed me whether full-time ministry was what I wanted to do after college. I really didn’t want to miss out.

With English as my passion, I knew I could do the job they were asking of me; I was going to be the social media and marketing manager. CSF mostly spends summers preparing for the upcoming school year, and they are pretty active on Instagram over the break to keep in touch with students. They were posting mini devotional videos from the students, and my job was to collect, curate, caption, and distribute them. I also got to help the staff plan for the semester, clean the building, and do some other administrative tasks. I got to lead the summer Bible study some weeks, and toward the end of the summer, I was the main speaker in front of a group of about fifty people (socially-distanced, of course). I was able to see the behind-the-scenes of a non-profit campus ministry and determine whether this was the career path I wanted to pursue.

I learned a lot over this summer that prepared me for life after college in a non-profit field. Ministry is a thankless job that takes a lot out of you. You will do hours of work with no recognition, and it’s draining. Sometimes your efforts are unsuccessful and sometimes they go perfectly according to plan, and you never really know what you’re going to get. But you’re rewarded in other ways. Seeing a student light up when they haven’t smiled in weeks because of an event you planned is truly life-giving. Helping someone get through a really hard time or going alongside them through a good time makes it all worth it.

The Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend I received allowed me to take this opportunity without having to worry about my finances. It wouldn’t have been the same if I would have had to take a part-time job to cover living expenses, and I am so glad that the International English Honor Society granted it to me. Without it, I most likely would not know that full-time campus ministry is what I want to pursue after graduation. Sigma Tau Delta gave me the ability to discover that my passion is something attainable and worth it.

LWalker-headLeah Walker
2020 Summer Internship Stipend Recipient
Pi Iota Chapter
Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY


Internship Stipend

Sigma Tau Delta offers funding for current undergraduate and graduate student members accepting non- or low-paying internships. The Internship Stipend is a competitive program providing a limited number of stipends of up to $1,500 each.

The internship must involve working for an “organization” while being directed by a supervisor/mentor within that organization, and the intern’s duties must be consistent with the applicant’s level of education, area of study, and career goals. Financial need will be taken into consideration in addition to internship length. Applicants are responsible for obtaining and providing verification of the internship. Please review the application guidelines for additional information.

The internship stipend does not apply to activities that are part of a student’s degree requirements, such as student teaching, and cannot be used to supplement a graduate assistantship.

Applications will be accepted Monday, April 12 through Monday, April 26, 2021, 11:59 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT). Notifications will be made by May 25. Questions regarding the online submission process should be addressed to [email protected].


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1 Comment

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  • Hey Leah!
    You story is so inspiring! I am also interested in campus ministry very much and am looking for ministry internships this summer. I would love to connect with you on Instagram because I feel like we could be best buds :). My handle is @annas_a_book