March 1st marks the deadline for the Bernie Scholarship Awards Program, but it also marks the start of Women’s History Month.
Since 1972, Title IX has provided the right to education free from sex discrimination. With Title IX, women and girls have been able to make great strides toward sex equality in education, but many serious obstacles remain.
One of these obstacles is single parenthood, an issue disproportionately affecting women. According to US Census data, approximately 82.2% of custodial parents are mothers. For single parents, who are supporting children, going back to school can seem like an impossible dream. The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program strives to make these impossible dreams possible.
Many of Bernie Scholarship’s 500-some recipients have been single mothers working to achieve their academic and personal goals of upward mobility. One of these recipients is Yvette Hammond, a single mother who, through a Bernie scholarship, completed her Bachelor’s of Science degree and is now enrolled in a Master’s degree program. Because of Yvette’s hard work and dedication to her education and family, she was able to rise above her challenging circumstances, get a full-time job in Community Health, and purchase a new home.
To all the strong, intelligent, and hard-working single mothers, if you are looking to go (back) to school – whether for college or vocational training – the Bernie Scholarship Awards Program is here for you. Celebrate Women’s History Month by taking another stride towards equality in education and submitting your application to become a Bernie Scholar.
Finding & Researching Opportunities
Internship hunting can be daunting. If you’re not sure where to your search for internship opportunities, here are a few places to look:
- Your college’s career center
- Many colleges have an online database of internship opportunities you can search from
- Make an appointment with a career center counselor to go over your interests and ambitions and see if they can point in the right direction
- Many career centers also offer workshops on resume writing, practice interviews, etc.
- Your professors
- Professors are constantly doing research and may have some summer research opportunities available or know of one
- If there’s a particular class you’re interested in, go over your specific interests and ambitions with your professor and see if they can recommend a company, colleague, etc. doing similar work
- Many times (summer) fellowships require professor recommendations, so it’s always a good idea to establish a working relationship with a professor so that they can write you a good recommendation later on
- Interested in a government opportunity? Find internships for current students and new grads on the USAjobs.gov website
- Industry blogs, websites, and even social media accounts
- Internship/job search engines
- The Muse, Monster, LinkedIn, Indeed , etc.
- Company Website
- If you already know which companies you’re interested in, head directly to their website and see if they have any openings on their career page
- Your mentor
- Reach out to your Bernie mentor and ask if they can assist you with this or with any part of the internship seeking process
Once you start job searching, it can be easy to spiral down a rabbit hole of listings. Stay on top of internship priorities and deadlines by creating a spreadsheet, on Google or with Excel, to keep track of the opportunities you’re interested in. Some important things to record:
- Name of internship opportunity
- Paid or unpaid
- Materials needed for the application
- Name and contact information of the hiring manager
- Name and contact information of any connections you have at that company
You can narrow down a final list to apply to based on certain priorities like paid or unpaid, location (affects transportation & housing costs, pay), etc.
Once you’ve gathered all your application materials and have had someone else to review your resume and cover letters, start submitting them! You can reach out to contacts in your network that may work for that company to let them know that you’re interested and ask if they’d be willing to refer your application.
If a company responds to your application, make sure you respond quickly. A good rule is to always respond within 24 hours. This is the time you will start getting interview offers.
Tips on preparing for the interview:
- You can reach out to your network, alumni, etc. and see if anyone has insight into their interview process.
- Do some research via Glassdoor and other similar websites.
- Go through each responsibility listed on the internship posting and write a related skill, class, or experience that shows you are a good fit. Remember these for the interview.
- Interviews require formal business clothing. Business attire is expensive. If you are not able to find affordable options, organizations like Dress for Success and the Hope Program offer free professional clothing for those who need it. Do not be afraid to use the programs that are out there to help you.
- The interview is your chance to get clarification on any ambiguities you may have encountered – is the internship paid or unpaid, are you the only intern, how big is the intern class, are there any direct-hire opportunities after graduation?
You should have most of your offers in by now. All that’s left to do is to determine which offer most closely meets your interests, priorities, and budget. If you are relocating for the internship, now is the time to figure housing out.
Preparing for the big day!
Make sure that everything is in place for when your internship starts – housing, method of transportation, paperwork. Make sure you know where the office is, work hours, office dress code, and if there’s anything you need to bring on your first day.
Landing an internship is mostly staying organized, being prepared, and following up, so make sure you are staying on top of things! Good luck!
BSAP Board Co-Chair Nancy Scull and Award recipient Erika Granville were recently featured on Make a Difference, a program put together by County Cable Montgomery. The two discussed the Bernie Scholarship Awards Program with the show’s host, Michael Bruen.
Nancy Scull (BSAP) and Tonia Harries (BSAP Award Winner) visited the Rotary Club of Gaithersburg on January 8, 2018.
Nancy Scull and Tonia Harries introduced our group to The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program. It was founded in 1995 by Mr. Bernie Tetreault to aid high school seniors, and adults beginning or returning to school, with the cost of college or vocational training. Recipients must live in Montgomery County subsidized rental housing. It is a component fund of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, so all donations to the program are tax-exempt.
Nancy said there were 63 awardees in 2018. She hopes to have a similar number in 2019 and to provide each with a $1,500 award. That might be increased to $2,000 in the year 2020 (coincidence?). A huge 98% of scholarship recipients finish their college degrees or training licenses, 67% pursue 4-year degrees, 17% an associates and 7% obtain masters degrees.
The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program strongly supports public service careers, 18-year-old and older students and “non-traditional” students. Nancy gave examples of people from difficult backgrounds who excelled with Bernie scholarships.
Tonia Harries is a beneficiary of the program. She spoke of how a scholarship had helped her move from near despair to a A.A.S. degree in Health Information Management, which she will complete in 2019. It has made a huge difference in her life.
The organization’s website is www.berniescholarships.org. Through this site, one can donate (tax-exempt) to the program and, also, apply for a scholarship.
The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program was featured in the November 2018 Newsletter of Montgomery Magazine, an online publication updated bi-monthly by Montgomery County Media Group and has a readership across Montgomery County in excess of 55,000. The newsletter is available here: http://www.montgomerymag.com/Emails_Newsletters/Nov18Newsletter/MM_Nov18Enews.html
BSAP Board Members Nancy Scull and Sandy Smith were recently featured on Make a Difference, a program put together by County Cable Montgomery. The two discussed the Montgomery County Volunteer Center as well as the Bernie Scholarship Awards Program with the show’s host, Lorraine Driscoll.
The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program’s mission is to provide financial assistance for college or vocational training programs to graduating high school seniors and other adults who are low-income and live in subsidized rental housing in Montgomery County, Maryland. Our goal is to help our recipients achieve a better future, to rise above their challenging circumstances. The scholarship that we provide may literally be life-changing to a recipient and his/her family. Our awardees are so determined that 98% complete their degrees!
In September 2018, we kicked off another year for our program. We hope to assist more students and to provide higher award amounts in 2019. To do this, we need to raise more funds for scholarships that can be used for tuition, books, fees, computer equipment, transportation, and child care for deserving students. This is exciting and will have an incredibly positive impact on our potential awardees.
In 2018 we had the largest number of awardees ever in our 23-year history; we had 63 awardees, compared to a high of 39 awardees in prior years. In 2019 our goal is to assist even more students and to increase the award amount to $2,000.
If you are interested in more information on our nonprofit, please see www.berniescholarships.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know someone who could benefit from our scholarship program, please share this information.
Thank you, Theresa Wells, Board Member