From a hospital in Thailand to the halls of Congress, Pomona students are gaining key job experiences through the Career Development Office's Summer Internship Program.

Thanks to growing student interest and increased support from donors, the program is marking another year of dramatic expansion, with 85 students – almost double the number from last year – awarded funding from the College this summer for internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

These days, internships can be crucial to launching a career, says Mary Raymond, Director of Pomona's Career Development Office (CDO). Yet many students can't afford to give up the earnings from a summer job in order to take on an unpaid position. CDO funds can help by providing students with a stipend to cover travel and living expenses so they can focus on acquiring valuable work experience.

"Funding for summer internships has made it possible for so many more students to obtain experiential learning as a building block toward gaining confidence and competence for their careers," Raymond says.

This year's internships are in fields ranging from medicine to journalism to finance and marketing.

Jaureese Gaines '16 is spending the summer on Capitol Hill, juggling policy memos and legislative research as an assistant in the office of U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the Democrats' Senate Majority Whip.

Gaines, who hopes to someday run for public office in his hometown of Chicago, says he plans to learn as much as possible about the work of a politician, whether it's listening to constituents or tackling the nuts and bolts of education policy. But he's also looking forward to making connections with some of the many other college interns who flock to D.C. in the summer.

"Being able to exchange ideas with students from across the country and learn how they view the political challenges we face today can only help me grow as a person," says Gaines.

Changes made by the CDO over the last year have helped to cause a surge in participation. This summer marked the first time  stipends were available to students conducting off-campus research projects, allowing science majors to pick up positions as research assistants in labs at places such as Yale and the University of Chicago.

The program's international reach is growing, too. The number of students gaining internships overseas jumped to 19 this year, from just 3 in 2012, with postings in countries from Malaysia and China to Ireland and Cameroon.

Application numbers have shot up thanks to student word-of-mouth, but so has donor support. In March, Pomona's Office of Annual Giving launched its Summer Internship Challenge with an anonymous donor providing a 1:1 match on all gifts made to internships that month.

All this support adds up to a serious advantage for Pomona grads when they enter the workforce, says Sarah Park, the CDO's Associate Director for Experiential Programs and Employer Relations.

"In a lot of cases internships are basically one long job interview, and more and more they're becoming pipelines to full-time positions," says Park.