Iacocca Internships donations surpass $10 million


With more than 80 students placed across 19 countries this coming summer, Lehigh University’s International Internship Program, also known as the Iacocca Internships, continues to provide students with opportunities for cultural immersion while working abroad.

According to the Office of International Affairs, the Iacocca Internships grant full fellowships to students to participate in an internship, research or practicum experience with organizations around the world.

Donations are what make these fully funded internships possible. The program recently surpassed its $10 million milestone of support, marking a growth in the program.

Students can gain work experience, a broadened global perspective and an extended professional network all while developing themselves academically, professionally and personally.

“It’s one of the many opportunities for an international experience at Lehigh,” said Carol Ham, the director of International Internships.

Although the internships are unpaid and non-credit bearing, the university pays for the student’s travel, accommodations and meals, in addition to a stipend based on financial need.

Add subtitle textLee Iacocca, ’45, was the first to donate to the internships after the state funding was taken away in 2011, followed by more than 40 donors throughout the years.

“We are constantly building and nurturing relationships with employers and alumni,” Ham said, in regards to gaining new donations for the program and new positions for students.

The sponsoring companies submit a general job description to the Office of International Affairs for interested students, who may then apply for the internship position. These positions are full-time and last six to 12 weeks over the summer.

With an increasing network of employers and alumni all over the world, the Office of International Affairs is able to place more and more students in a wide-range of internships.

Last summer, 68 students were placed with organizations in 23 different countries, ranging from a community development internship in Indonesia, to a water analysis internship in Costa Rica.

Will Sullivan, ’15, interned with a company in Ghana last summer where he was a part of the product development of a granular fertilizer applicator for a small start-up company.

Sullivan said he learned valuable lessons about business as a result of the internship.

“I started looking up internships offered with Lehigh and it popped up,” Sullivan said. “It was such a cool experience. I learned that businesses don’t always have to look out for their own interests. People can help others who want it and still make money.”

Over the last year, the total number of applicants decreased from 212 to 160 students. Ham said this decrease may be from students’ lack of knowledge of the program.

“There are so many opportunities to study abroad at Lehigh that many students don’t know about the internship programs,” Ham said.

Julia Patterson, ’17, learned about the internships through an information session held by the Office of International Affairs in the fall.

Patterson said she had heard about the program and decided to go to an information session. There, a student who participated in this program and went to India spoke about his experiences.

Patterson said she was interested in the program, so she applied. She will be participating in the same internship in India this coming summer.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the business side of the construction industry and immersing myself in the Indian culture,” she said.

When applying for the internships, students can look at the job descriptions offered by the organizations and apply based on their personal interests. They may choose a first and second choice in their application. Students must also submit two letters of recommendation, a resume and an official transcript.

According to the Office of International Affairs, a selection committee reviews all of the applications to choose the ideal student for each internship placement.

The preferred criteria includes: “Demonstrated financial need, strong academic and university standing, and experience and capabilities closely aligned with organizational needs.”

The selection committee tends to give preference to students with financial aid and limited traveling experience. This gives those students a better opportunity to expand their horizons and gain an international experience that they otherwise may not have been able to have during college.

This summer, 83 percent of the accepted students have no previous international experience and 76 percent have high levels of financial aid.

However, students of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

The application process begins in the fall after the organizations submit their general job descriptions. Students may attend an information session led by previous student participants, or contact the Office of International Affairs.

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