As of May 2019, the Internship Fund has raised more than $260,000.
By Karen Guzman
In the winter of 1978, Merle Duskin Kailas ’79 was excited to begin her summer internship at a small consulting firm in New York City that worked with minority- and women-owned businesses. There was just one problem: “They couldn’t pay me,” Kalias recalls.
Her classmates came to the rescue and raised enough money to support her during her internship. “It was so wonderful that my fellow classmates reached into their own pockets because they believed this kind of work was important,” Kailas says. “It was very exciting and very touching that they were so committed to the mission of the school.”
Forty years later, Yale School of Management students are still committed. The student-led Internship Fund is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, rallying behind a “Pay It Forward” theme that’s encouraging members of the school community, and alumni worldwide, to donate.
“I’m so proud that this part of the original spirit of the school continues on today,” says Kailas, who was one of the first two recipients of what would later be dubbed the Internship Fund.
Student Fundraising Week kicked off on February 11 with a full roster of activities. As of February 20, the Fund had raised more than $46,000. Organizers will continue fundraising throughout the year. The next scheduled event is the Internship Fund Auction, which will be held on April 11 at the Omni Hotel in New Haven.
“The Fund embodies the ethos of the school, and I very much wanted to be part of it,” says Irene Koo ’20, one of two co-chairs of this year’s fund. “I’m so surprised and excited about how proactive and supportive our classmates have been.”
The 11-member student committee running this year’s fund unveiled the “Pay It Forward” theme in November. “It’s been woven into all of our communications right from the very beginning,” Koo says. “We’re inviting people to celebrate the Fund’s 40th birthday and to remember how critical it is to keep it going.”
The first of its kind among U.S.-based management programs, the Internship Fund provides financial support to students who pursue summer internships in the public or nonprofit sectors.
The fundamental ethos of SOM students helping other SOM students make a difference goes back to the origin of the Internship Fund. Merle Duskin Kalias’ classmate Nancy Raybin ’79 and some friends were the spark that started the fund. When Raybin heard about Kalias’ predicament, she decided to donate a portion of the salary from her own internship at Goldman Sachs. Soon, other classmates going to big banks and consulting firms were chipping in.
“It just seemed like the fair thing to do,” Raybin says. “We raised the money in ’78. A bunch of people contributed, and it’s wonderful that it’s still going on. The school supports all sectors.” The practice continued the next year, and a new community tradition was born.
This year’s Internship Fund Co-Chair Giovanni Cruz ’20 says response has been outstanding. “We’ve had so many people reach out, some of them out of nowhere,” he says. “It shows how much people are willing to give of their time, their talents, and their money. Unless you’re on the committee, you don’t really see how many people get involved. It’s the entire class.”
Cruz, who will be interning at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, says he learned about the fund when, as an admitted student, he visited Yale SOM during Welcome Weekend. “The fund was one of the reasons that I decided to attend SOM,” he says. “I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever heard.”