Get Experience scholarship

The Get Experience scholarship was established to support student engagement in hands-on learning experiences that enhance and compliment their academic coursework.

Sometimes students find compelling opportunities to explore career fields and build advance career readiness in places where their contributions are unpaid or underpaid. This can create significant barriers for students to take advantage of these career and professional development opportunities. The Get Experience scholarships are intended to reduce wage gap barriers. 


What do we fund? 

We fund the following types of experiences: 

  • Career-related experience located in not-for-profit, education, and governmental organizations. (We cannot fund experiences located in for-profit businesses at this time.)
  • Career-related experience supervised by a staff member at the organization. (The experience does not need to be labeled an “internship”.)
  • Undergraduate research experience supervised by a Principal Investigator, post-doc staff, or faculty member.
  • Volunteer experience supervised by a staff member at the organization.
  • Remote experience supervised by a staff member at the organization.

The following types of experiences are not eligible for funding:

  • Fee-based programs - any program that charges tuition or a fee. 
  • Personal research projects, such as an honors thesis, senior thesis, independent study, personal projects, or personal entrepreneurial ventures.
  • Work or research projects attached to academic courses or credit (except the LAS 289 Internships or LAS 199 Internships courses that are specifically designed to support programs like the Get Experience Scholarship).
  • Pipeline or insight programs which are meant to expose a student to a company, but where the student does not produce a work product.
  • Student or student-run entrepreneurial ventures.
  • Projects related to student organizations.
  • Summer courses at Illinois or elsewhere.
  • Any experience supervised by another student.
  • Work at an organization owned by a family member, or where a student is directly supervised by a family member (including, but not limited to, parent, sibling, spouse, aunt, uncle, grandparent, or cousin).

Scholarships are available during the fall, spring, and summer terms. Students may only receive the Get Experience Scholarship (previously called the “Life + Career Design Scholarship) one time in their undergraduate program – in one academic term, to support one experience.

Who is eligible? 

The scholarships promote early engagement career readiness. To qualify, you must meet the following requirements: 

  • Be a College of LAS bachelor’s degree-seeking student in good academic standing.
  • Be actively working toward your LAS degree. 
    Please note that students who graduate prior to the start date of their internship or professional experience are not eligible to receive the scholarship.
  • Be engaging in a hands-on, experiential learning experience that is unpaid or underpaid.
    Please note that underpaid is defined as earning less than Illinois minimum wage, which is currently defined as $14/hour.
  • Be participating in an experience that dedicates at least 60 hours of time over a prolonged engagement.
    For example: Engaging in a fall or spring semester experience that spans at least 10 weeks, at a minimum of 6 hours/week; OR a summer experience that spans at least 6 weeks at a minimum of 10 hours per week.
  • Have received a written offer for the unpaid internship, externship, volunteer experience, undergraduate research experience, etc. 
    This written offer can be in the form of a letter or email. It should communicate your employing organization and role at a minimum. It may also include start date, hours per week, remote/in-person/hybrid work, indication of stipend or other forms of support, etc.


Hear from Get Experience scholarship recipients

Natasha Najam
I experienced many facets of medicine
Psychology student Natasha discusses her summer internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Simon Kaplan
I made the most of a humanities internship
Simon discusses his experience with the Book History Lab at the University of Athens.
Jayne Allen
3 things I learned from my VGE internship
Jayne explains her experience with VACorps, an internship program based in Cape Town, South Africa.

How are funding decisions made?

While we wish we could support every student, funds are limited. In order to distribute funds equitably, having a meaningful impact for the greatest number of students, we closely follow the eligibility requirements described above. 

The intent of the program is to “jumpstart” access to career-related experiential learning opportunities that are connected to academic degree programs. The goal of the scholarship program is to reduce identified barriers to securing experiential learning. When the number of applications meeting eligibility requirements outpaces available funds, preference is given based on the following:

  • Those who are engaged in their first opportunities that connect their academic programs to career-related experiences. 
  • Those who clearly express a close connection between their identified experience and their academic studies. 
  • Those with demonstrated financial need.

How much funding is provided?

All award recipients are provided a base award of $500 (subject to change) to support engagement in the career development class that supports students engaged in full-time internships (LAS 289: Internship Experiences), or in similar supportive career development classes for those enrolled in other academic classes while concurrently engaging in a part-time experiential learning activity (e.g., LAS 199: Internships and Professional Experiences). 

Additional scholarship funding is calculated based on the anticipated wage gap that a student experiences as a result of working in an unpaid or underpaid role, as well as some funding consideration for relocation when secured positions require moving outside of Illinois. The maximum award amount per student is $5,000.

We recommend that students work no more than 15 hours per week when enrolled in classes (e.g., during fall and spring terms), and no more than 40 hours per week when working full time (e.g., during summer). Although students may choose to work in excess of these recommendations, the Get Experience scholarship program puts the following limits on what funds can support:

  • Fall / Spring terms: Maximum of 15 hours / week
  • Summer term: Maximum of 40 hours / week



What are the application timelines?

Scholarship applications are reviewed at three times each year – for a fall, spring, and summer cycle. Students are welcome to apply as soon as the documents become available. We will review applications once the application window has closed. We cannot accept late applications.

    Term of Experience  
Application Activity Summer 2024 Fall 2024 Spring 2025
Applications Available March 22 July 9 November 1, 2024
Deadline to Apply April 26 August 9 January 6
Decisions Sent May 3 August 16 January 10
Student Acceptance Deadline May 10 August 23 January 17
First Day of Term May 13 August 26 Janaury 21
Verification Forms Due May 28 September 9 February 3


How do I apply? 

Applications require three documents, all of which are submitted in our online application system:

  • application form (completed in the online system)
  • resume, and 
  • a copy of your offer letter or email for the unpaid internship, externship, volunteer experience, undergraduate research experience, etc. that you are pursuing

What is required of recipients?

All Get Experience Scholarship recipients must indicate acceptance of their award within one (1) week of notification. If recipients do not respond in this time, their funds may be reallocated to a student on the waitlist for support. If you chose to decline an award, you can be eligible to receive funds in a future semester. 

Recipients are also required to complete a Professional Experience Verification Form upon acceptance of the award, which includes signature from their organization supervisor. 

Finally, recipients must engage in a career development experience to reflect on and integrate their experiences into their undergraduate journey. There are a few options for these experiences.:

  • Recipients who are engaged in full-time work experiences (and not taking any other Illinois classes) are required to enroll in LAS 289: Internship Experiences 
    This is a reduced-rate course designed specifically for students who are working full-time. You must be an enrolled student in any term in which you receive scholarship funds. This course makes it possible for us to support your experience – both with the scholarship, and with career development services.

  • Recipients who are enrolled in other Illinois classes and engaging in their professional experiences part-time are required to choose from the following career development experiences: 
    (1) Enroll in our LAS 199 Internships and Professional Experiences course, or
    (2) Participate in an individual career coaching appointment to set goals at the beginning of the semester, with an end of semester resume review to reflect on and integrate experience into your personal career story

Please view our Get Experience scholarship FAQs if you have questions.