Skip to main content

New internship fund will financially assist Blugolds in unpaid internships

| Denise Olson

Photo caption: In his final semester as a Blugold exercise science major, Nik Carpenter has landed an exciting full-time opportunity as a cardiac rehabilitation intern at Eau Claire's Sacred Heart Hospital.

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire launched a new internship support fund this winter aimed at financially helping more students who accept unpaid internships that offer inimitable professional experience.

On Jan. 30, senior exercise science major Nik Carpenter became the first Blugold intern to begin an internship financially supported by the Eau Claire Internship Fund. He will be a cardiac rehabilitation intern in the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation center at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, an internship that is not paid by the hospital.

“I'm excited to get out into the real world to help others and represent the university all with the peace of mind and support the internship fund will bring,” says the Beloit native.

Male KINS student doing a vitals assessment for a female student

As part of his internship, Nik Carpenter will go over plans for cardiac rehab with hospital patients along with discussing the session objectives, clinical skills practiced in the various kinesiology labs in McPhee.

New fund to meet critical student need

Staci Heidtke, campus Career Services director, says this new fund will help diversify the pool of interns at UW-Eau Claire by providing a stipend of up to $3,000 for an unpaid internship.

“Career Services wants to see that all students who wish to complete an internship are able to do so, and this fund will alleviate the financial burden of accepting an unpaid internship,” Heidtke says.

Unpaid internships can adversely impact the career readiness of students who cannot afford to give up a paying job for an internship that often approaches full-time working hours, Heidtke says.

“National research consistently shows that marginalized groups are historically underrepresented in paid internships, overrepresented in unpaid internships and more likely not to participate in any internship at all,” Heidtke says.

“The Eau Claire Internship Fund will increase access to internships and ultimately diversify the workforce.” — Staci Heidkte, director of Career Services. 

Heidtke added that first-generation students engage in significantly fewer high-impact activities than their counterparts, at a rate of 42.7% to 66%.

For Carpenter, who will graduate in May, the Foundation funding is making it much less burdensome to complete the required 400-hour internship for his major. For students like Carpenter who are not taking additional courses in the same term and are utilizing financial aid, this requirement equates to an average of 36 hours per week.

Carpenter says his long-term career goal is to conduct research and teach physiology at the college level, and this internship is the first step in acquiring the clinical knowledge he hopes to impart to students someday.

“I previously had a job-shadowing placement at Sacred Heart, and when it came time for my internship, I knew I wanted it to be with them,” Carpenter says. “This fund is a lifesaver for me — without it I would have needed to find an additional job to just afford my basic living costs.”

blood pressure cuff in use on a patient

Among the patient's vital signs that Blugold kinesiology graduates are trained to monitor is blood pressure, which Carpenter will assess before and/or after a rehabilitation session, for example.

“I’m so grateful for the financial support this fund is offering, support that means I can put so much more of my energy into my work in patient care at Sacred Heart.” — Senior Nik Carpenter 

Learn more about the Eau Claire Internship Fund

The Eau Claire Internship Fund supports students completing an unpaid internship in the Eau Claire area. The Eau Claire Internship Fund will pay a student up to $3,000, funding made possible by the generous donations of alumni and employers.

Applications for funding are open to all undergraduate majors; preference will go to students seeking internships in fields and industries where interns are often unpaid (nonprofit organizations, government agencies, startups) and for students who have financial hardship.

Applications for summer 2023 internships will open soon. See website for all application requirements and processes.

Interested individuals and organizations can donate here to the Eau Claire Internship Fund.