Boise State’s Career Accelerator Program provides student interns with academic credit and a paycheck

Elise Ledesma | The Arbiter

Finishing its first year at Boise State, the Career Accelerator Program (CAP) is providing students with the skills and connections to receive payment for otherwise unpaid off-campus internship opportunities. 

This comes at a good time for students seeking a paycheck with their otherwise unpaid job, as Boise’s cost of living currently sits 7% higher than the national average, according to Pay Scale, a company that monitors market trends. 

Despite these rising costs, 40% of interns nationwide report being unpaid, according to a 2021 study by The National Association of Colleges and Employers.

For many students entering their junior or senior year, an internship credit is one class that still needs to be checked off the degree tracker. Department internship coordinators and Career Services can connect students with internships in their field of study.

The Idaho Workforce Development Council’s CAP provides supplemental income of up to $1,500 per semester for Boise State students enrolled in an unpaid internship for academic credit. 

According to an email shared with program participants from Rick Van Santen, the associate director of experiential learning, the grant serves two purposes: to provide a curriculum that supports students’ career development and to make internships accessible in cases where the employer cannot pay.

The $500 per credit students receive comes from the state of Idaho, specifically the Idaho Workforce Development Council. The council works to provide public outreach that improves the “quality of and access to workforce education” in Idaho, according to Gov. Brad Little’s Executive Order NO.2019-08

“Sometimes the stumbling block is students not having the time to pick up a job without being paid,” Bod Reinhardt, professor and internship coordinator for the history department told The Arbiter. “The $500 per credit stipend is a great way of incentivizing and drawing attention to the value of an internship.”

The hourly pay works out to $11 with CAP, beating the $10 per hour that sophomore and graphic design major Sasha White received as a “graphic design intern” for Boise State’s student media in spring 2022. 

“I think people are realizing that unpaid internships aren’t working for college students,” White said. 

The number of students taking advantage of CAP has continued to grow during its first year on campus. The program currently supports 52 students and will continue to fund internships through the fall 2024 semester, according to Van Santen. 

However, the program is not available to every student. The caveat comes to what academic department a student is in. Participating departments in the CAP program are the media, communications, political science, history, world languages, school of public service, biological sciences, geological sciences and English departments.

“We are piloting this and slowly adding more faculty members,” Van Santen said. “This isn’t open to anyone at Boise State to apply. It works through academic departments to support their internships for good academic credit experiences.”

The deadline to register a qualifying internship for credit is Feb. 16 for those looking to fulfill their degree’s internship requirement and have a spot on the grant’s payroll. 

[Photo of Academic and Career Services, located in Boulder Hall.]
Elise Ledesma | The Arbiter

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