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 – and apply for funding from WDI. 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, Energy,  Financial Sector Development, or Healthcare 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, impact investing in Uganda.


University of Michigan students enrolled full-time in a Master’s degree program and returning in Fall 2020 for the full 2020-21 academic year.  Students graduating in May 2020 and part-time students are not eligible.

Planning Your Student-Initiated Internship

  1. Start researching as early as possible, i.e. start in October 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, Energy, Education, or Finance.   We do not fund clinical projects.
  5. Since our institute’s focus is on emerging market countries, we do not fund internships that are primarily located in the US or other developed countries (more than 2 weeks out of the 12 weeks).

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 Advisory Levels 3 and 4.   On a case-by-case basis at our discretion, we may provide an exception for Level 2 Advisory.   As you review your internship options, please check and revisit this link periodically as world events develop.   Note that conditions can change rapidly in a country at any time.   Therefore, 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 advisory level changed between proposal approval and your departure date.

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.


Email to  if you have any questions.

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