The EDGE internship program at Creighton University underwent a budget adjustment in late July, affecting 100 Creighton student interns.
The program, which was introduced four years ago, provides paid internship opportunities on campus for students in 30 different offices, ranging from the Global Engagement Office to the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice.
Up until the change in July, EDGE interns worked at least one term (fall, spring or summer) and had the option to work a maximum of three terms. Each intern was paid $12.75 per hour, regardless of the office in which they worked.
Creighton restructured the funding from the centralized hourly model to allow each department to fund their own interns individually.
“This change in the funding model creates a more efficient budget structure,” said Jeremy Fisher, director of the John P. Fahey Career Center, which is overseen by the EDGE. “In developing their budgets, department managers will need to be more reflective on how they can best utilize the skills and talents of EDGE interns in meeting the needs of their department.”
He added that the flexibility reflects how the real labor market functions, due to the fact that each internship and department vary.
Despite this change, EDGE leadership recommended that each department maintain $12.75 per hour to prevent any cuts from current interns.
“It is our goal that students who are already currently employed as an EDGE intern for this upcoming fall semester will continue to have their internship commitment fulfilled at the $12.75 per hour rate,” Fisher said. “We are doing our best to honor that commitment.”
Out of the previous 100 filled internships, 85 positions are currently funded and filled. After the fall, the number may fluctuate based on the discretion of the departments.
Fisher reiterated that it is not a “cut,” rather a “restructuring of the funding model.”
“You can sort of equate [the change] to a nonprofit organization receiving a grant for four years and, once the grant is expired, reallocating financial resources to continue the great work of the program.”
The EDGE internship program is but one sector of a wider Creighton EDGE program that focuses on numerous academic success tools at the hands of Creighton students such as tutoring, academic counseling, advising and more. No changes are being made to these programs.
“While the majority of EDGE interns who are continuing their positions are not affected, we are working to finalize internship dollars for approximately a dozen or so EDGE interns for the fall semester,” Fisher said. “It is the goal of the Career Center to work with as many departments as we can to continue as many internships on campus as possible to benefit our students.”
Tricia Sharrar, the vice provost for academic administration and partnerships in the Office of the President, oversees the EDGE, and said that she believes the change was slightly miscommunicated.
“You have to think of it more in terms of a shift,” Sharrar said. “The intention wasn’t to cut the internship program. The intention was really to have the budget be more so directed to the department that actually hosts the interns.”
She said that the alteration should actually provide more opportunities for more students because it removes the previous cap of only 100 interns. With the decision-making authority being handed over to the individual departments, they can decide how many interns they want instead of only being allocated a certain number of interns.
“To be honest, I think it makes us stronger,” Sharrar said. “If we do it the right way, it may open up more opportunities to explore avenues because our funding was limited.”
As far as the recommendation goes to maintain the same pay for the current interns, she said that she anticipates the departments will stay true and not reduce anyone’s pay.
She added that this opens up doors for more professional work environment experience, citing potential for traditional rate profits and performance appraisals, which she believes go toward the interns’ merit.
“We don’t always get it right the first time,” Sharrar said regarding how the change was communicated. “I use [the change] as an opportunity to make us stronger and do what’s in the best interest of both parties.”