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Canadian Summer Funding Primer

Funding a Public Interest Summer


For students committed to careers in public service, summer public interest internships can be the most rewarding experiences. However, the financial realities may be intimidating to some students.  Most public interest employers don’t pay summer interns and those that do tend to pay less than other sectors.  However, the value of these internships cannot be underestimated – in fact, in some areas of public service, a public interest summer internship is the best or only way to set yourself up for a public interest career after you graduate.

Fortunately, there are a number of resources available that may help you financially as you pursue your public interest summer. Here are some tips on how to pursue paid internships or funding as a summer public interest intern.

Finding Paid Public Interest Internships

The most direct way to fund a summer public interest internship is to find a paid internship. Unfortunately, many government agencies and non-profit organizations do not have funding available to pay summer interns.  Thus, although plenty of paid opportunities exist, finding these positions may require a little leg work.

PSJD.org is a helpful resource when trying to find a paid public interest summer internship.


When using the PSJD Advanced Search for Job Postings, you can select “Articling Opportunity” under Job type or “Internship (Summer)” under Job Schedule and “Stipend”, “$15k-$40k/per year” or “Dependent on Experience” under Salary.  This will return jobs with employers that offer paid internships or articling opportunities. Add in your location as well to narrow your search results to Canadian positions.

Additionally, if you receive an offer for an unpaid internship, it doesn’t hurt to ask if there is any funding available! Although some public interest employers post their internships as “volunteer” opportunities, they may have limited funds available to help if your summer funding from your school or other sources does not cover all of your expenses.  Some employers also will provide a transportation subsidy.  Don’t be afraid to ask if an organization can provide a small stipend. Talk to your Career Services or Public Interest Advising office about how best to have this conversation.

A word on timing: You should not limit your search to paid public interest internships; you should be applying for those internships concurrently with unpaid internships.  As you will see below, there are a number of other options for funding your public interest summer, and you don’t want a deadline for an unpaid internship to slip by while you are waiting to hear about a paid opportunity.

Finding Funding for Volunteer Summer Public Interest Internships

If you secure an unpaid summer internship, there are plenty of potential sources of external funding, including but not limited to:

  • Your Law School

  • Your Local Bar Association(s)

  • Your Local Member of Parliament or Member of Provincial Parliament

    • Talk to your MP to see if they can help you apply for government funding.

  • Your Local Rotary Club

  • The Government of Canada’s “Canada Summer Jobs” Funding


Important factors considered by summer funding resources when reviewing applications include: overall commitment to public interest; commitment to the work of your summer placement (particularly where funding is tied to a particular practice area); other factors relevant to the particular award (e.g., geographic connection, affinity group association).  You should treat these applications with the seriousness of a job application. Your law school’s career services and/or public interest professionals can be of tremendous assistance here.


Category: Public Interest in Canada