The Internship Experience

Join us for eleven weeks of career exploration and growth in the Division of Development and Alumni Relations. Our interns work across the University in individual units and colleges Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, they meet for a full day of professional development led by University leaders and experts in the field. Read on to hear about their experiences.

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Event Date
Application Closes January 2, 2020
First Round of Interviews January 28-30, 2020
Second Round of Interviews Mid February
Notification of Final Decisions Mid March
Start of Internship May 12, 2020
Celebration/Program Close July 24, 2020

Donors and alumni engaged by interns

Hours of travel with major gifts officers

Million dollars solicited with intern help

Real-world experience

From Monday through Thursday, interns work in development offices across campus and contribute to meaningful projects for the division. These projects combine interns’ skills and the division’s needs and can include anything from coordinating a stewardship event to meeting with donors to crafting a gift proposal. Whatever your skillset and interests, you can find opportunities to challenge yourself and grow personally and professionally.

Friday educational sessions

Every Friday, our interns meet as a cohort for eight hours of learning and professional development. The interns spend these days together hearing from development leadership, learning about the fundraising and nonprofit management, taking part in behavioral assesments, and making field trips to Penn State Altoona and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Contact us

For additional information, contact Quill Murphy at


Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I apply to the DDAR Summer Internship?

This program is one of the best in the country at preparing young professionals for careers in philanthropy. The investment made by our division’s senior leadership, our internship coordinator, our host units, intern coaches, faculty, speakers, donors, and so many more combine to create an incredibly unique opportunity for you and your career development. Unparralleled investment in you comes with great responsibility. Our interns work on meaningful projects for university leadership, provide divisional support, craft donor solicitations, and engage alumni. Come explore a field of philanthropy and give back to our great University.

What is the Division of Development and Alumni Relations at Penn State?

The Division of Development and Alumni Relations is the face of the University to donors, friends, alumni, corporations, foundations, parents, and students. Our last fundraising campaign, from 2007-2014, raised over $2 billion for everything from undergraduate and graduate scholarships to the Pegula Ice Arena. We have almost 150 frontline fundraisers out on the road talking to alumni and friends of Penn State. Our staff work in communications, law, event planning, stewardship, grant writing, donor relations, and every other facet of Penn State’s exterior image.

What do your intern alumni do?

Almost 50 percent of our intern alumni currently work in development, with half of them at Penn State (26% of our total graduates). The others work in everything from corporate America to public service. Our interns have gone on to work for companies like Deloitte, KPMG, Google, IBM, GE, and Accenture. Others have been selected for major international fellowship opportunities like Fulbright, and still others have gone on to become communications directors, teachers, and higher education professionals. Some are even pursing advanced degrees in master’s and PhD programs. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do after the internship. Instead, come find out with Penn State DDAR.

How does the application process work?

The committee reviews all general applications and selects a portion to do a first-round interview. If you are selected to continue after the first interview, you are invited to interview with specific units. You may be selected to interview with multiple units or a single unit. The units then choose their interns.

What are these "units" you keep talking about?

A unit is a term to describe the different groups within the division. These units can be academic colleges (Smeal College of Business, College of the Liberal Arts), University-wide offices (Athletics, the Arboretum), central development offices (Development Communications, Corporate and Foundation Relations), or the Penn State Alumni Association. These are the homes for our interns during their internship.

How competitive is the internship?

Very competitive. Last year we recieved over 100 applications from which we selected a class of 20. The class size is determined by the number of available units, but is generally somewhere between 15 to 20.

When can I intern? Is it limited to rising seniors?

You can intern at any point in your college career, including the summer after you graduate. Preference is given to older applicants, but we have had rising juniors, seniors, and graduates in our internship.

How can I stand out?

Be passionate, excited, and team-oriented. Care about your causes. Do your homework, and know who we are and what we do. Show us what you’ve done with your time here and why investing in you will be an investment in Penn State’s future.

What majors do you accept and what previous experience do I need?

Students from all majors are eligible, and there aren’t any “qualifications” or “experiences” needed in the traditional sense. We recognize that everyone comes into development from somewhere else. Instead, we’re looking for demonstrated leadership, teamwork, and service combined with a love for both Penn State and philanthropy.

What is an intern coach?

Each of our interns is matched up with a more senior development employee in a different unit from the one in which they intern. This individual helps to navigate the summer and ensure that you get the experiences you’re looking for. Between your coach and your unit, your summer will be packed with opportunity.

Is the internship paid?

Interns are paid an hourly wage for all 40 hours, including Friday sessions.

When does the internship run?

This is an eleven-week internship that generally runs from the second week after graduation through late July.

How great is this internship?

The greatest.