By Jeffery Nardone
For nearly all students that go through the Communications Media program here at Fitchburg State University, getting a great internship placement is one of the most significant topics they will encounter.
The Communications Media program here at Fitchburg State is held in high regard, making up the largest portion of the student body, follow very closely by the Nursing program. Communications students are one of the few majors here on campus who are required to do a 12 credit hour internship during their senior year, which is the equivalent of four (4) normal classes.
During recent years, many Communications students have had an extremely difficult time with coordinating their internships, between the Communications department, Housing and Residential Services department, and the Financial Aid offices.
A set of regulations were developed by the Housing and Residential Services department over a decade ago, with regards to students who may not be fortunate enough to have an internship site in places like Los Angeles, California, or New York City, New York, for examples. As stated, the Housing and Occupancy agreement reads, “A student may request, in writing, a release from this agreement under the following conditions with no penalty if the co-op or internship is outside of Worcester County.”
This phrasing can become an issue for some students who are struggling to pay for their education in the first place, because if they receive an internship that is inside of Worcester County, then they must “buy-out” of their Housing Occupancy agreement, which for some can be upwards of $1300.
For instance one student, Justin Richard, had an amazing opportunity for an internship just outside of the heart of Worcester, but still within city limits. This caused great concern from Richard, who quickly realized that the commute to this internship site would be longer from Fitchburg State than his house, and also more expensive. “They (Housing) were more than happy to meet with me.
Upon meeting with them, they told me they couldn’t do much to help my situation, a state organization sets the regulations for all the state school’s Housing departments. Since my internship is inside Worcester County, the buyout came to be a little over $1300,” stated Richard.
Upon further examining the situation, Worcester County stretches the entirety of the state of Massachusetts, having its northernmost point of Warwick, MA; which borders Winchester and Richmond, NH, and is roughly one hour driving from Fitchburg State via the quickest route. Conversely, the southernmost point of Worcester County is Blackstone, MA; which borders Woonsocket and North Smithfield, RI, both of which are slightly over an hour away, but both of these locations are within Worcester County somehow justifying the morbid figure of a $1300 buyout or a miserable one hour commute (without factoring traffic) five days a week, from January thru the second week in May.
Richard went on to say, “I feel the regulation is unfair considering other counties where I wouldn’t have to pay a buyout fee, are as close to two towns to the east or west of Fitchburg.” To Richard’s credit, a fifteen minute drive east of Fitchburg State would bring you into the town of Shirley, MA, which is part of Middlesex County. To give some context, other cities that are part of Middlesex County include Wakefield, Malden, and Newton, MA; all of which are over an hour drive from Fitchburg State University.
Confused by these his meeting with housing, and angered by the situation, Richard sought out a meeting with the Financial Aid office, to see if there would be any way to cover the morbid cost of acquiring a terrific internship, provided thru the University.
Upon meeting with Financial Aid, Richard was expecting to be turned down again, however his luck turned for the better stating, “my financial aid was readjusted on a case-by-case basis to allow me to cover the majority of the buyout. Although this is great, I feel bad for those (fellow students) who didn’t speak up, as they would end up paying the buyout out of pocket.”
Looking for more information on internships? Check out this site.