Student-Initiated Internships

Student-initiated internships allow students to create internships based on their own educational, personal, and career interests within the context of WDI’s focus areas. Students identify and contact the organization themselves and work with one of the organization’s senior managers to co-define the scope of a 12-week project.   Project proposals are expected to be focused on Education, Financial Sector Development, Healthcare, Performance Measurement, or  Scaling Impact in emerging markets.

Examples of past Student-Initiated internship projects: business model analysis and market research for an early stage startup in the renewable energy sector in India, development of a marketing strategy for exporting organic tea from China, impact investing in Uganda.

Planning Your Student-Initiated Internship

  1. Start researching  as early as possible, i.e. start October or November for the following summer.
  2. Reach out to WDI (at with your project idea to receive an initial review
  3. Plan on spending at least two months on research, narrowing down, pitching your idea, and finalizing discussions with organizations
  4. Projects must be focused on business or economic development within an emerging market, and within one or more of these focus areas:  Healthcare, Scaling Impact, Education, Performance Measurement, or Financial Sector Development.  We do not fund clinical projects.
  5. Since our focus is on emerging market countries, we do not fund internships located in the US or other developed countries.   If you are not sure about the classification of the country you are planning to go to, check the UN or World Bank  country classification.

WDI accepts funding applications for coverage of student’s in-country living expenses and international airfare.  Participating host organizations are encouraged to contribute resources to your internship to ensure successful outcomes.

Student safety is of primary importance

WDI does NOT support internship projects in countries that are on the US Department of State Travel Warning List.   As you review your internship options, please check and revisit this link periodically as world events develop.  Also consider the long-term stability of your country of interest as we will not be able to give a final approval for departure if the country’s status changed between proposal approval and your departure date.   We may provide an exception on a case-by-case basis.

International StudentS

If you are an international student, a student-initiated internship in your home country is not encouraged. Our mission is to provide challenging new international experiences; therefore, working in your home country generally will not be considered an “international” experience. We may make an exception on a case-by case basis. If you feel you have a compelling project proposal,  send an email to as early as possible.

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