West Internship Application FAQs

Photo credit: Melanie Langa

Every summer, the Bill Lane Center for the American West offers many opportunities for Stanford undergraduates (including graduating seniors and co-terminal students) to work with organizations throughout the West. Through these internships, students can explore careers in natural history, conservation, ecology, land use, museum curation, resource management, water, energy, literature, policy, politics, and more. 

Bill Lane Center internships are part of Cardinal Quarter opportunities and students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply. The opportunities are full-time (35-40 hours a week) for 9-10 consecutive weeks during the summer. Specific start and end dates can be coordinated directly with the internship organization's supervisor. 

All internships are fully funded by the Bill Lane Center.

Summer internships are posted at the end of fall quarter/beginning of winter quarter.

Summer 2024 applications are due Sunday, January 28, 2024 at 11:59pm

Applications can be found on SOLO, Stanford's portal for On- & Off-Campus Learning Opportunities (solo.stanford.edu).

Students may submit applications for up to *three* internships. Each internship has a unique application.

To learn more about the internship experience and read student reflections, browse the Out West student blog and the Lane Center Instagram channel featuring posts by summer interns from the past several years – many of them are the same organizations open to applications.

Bill Lane Center staff will review all the applications and then conduct first-round, in-person or Zoom interviews (for those abroad) for selected applicants. After first-round interviews, finalists will be forwarded to the host organization(s) for more interviews and selection. The host organizations make the final selection. 

All administration of the internships, including awards, is managed by the Bill Lane Center. 

To find out more about the program, please contact Education Manager Corinne Thomas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What materials are required to apply?

A: The Bill Lane Center application includes specific questions and will also prompt you to submit a cover letter describing your interest and experience, a resume, two references, and an unofficial transcript.

Q: What should I include in my cover letter?

A: Please address your cover letter to both the Bill Lane Center, that is funding and administering this internship, and the organization to which you are applying.

You must address the following three questions in your letter:

  1. What are your motivations behind applying for this position?
  2. How will participating in this program further your academic and professional pursuits?
  3. Do you have any prior internship or relevant experience? 

Tips for writing a cover letter:

  1. Do not begin your cover letter by stating your name.
  2. Read the internships's required and desired skills carefully on the SOLO page and address your qualifications in your letter.
  3. Use different, tailored cover letters for different internship positions; address specific qualifications and interest in the work.
  4. Proofread and edit thoughtfully, and please remember the value of humility.
  5. Make it easy to read--use at least 11pt font and paragraphs. 

For more resources, including how to write a cover letter and resume, please see Stanford's Career Education resources webpage.

Q: Does the internship selection process require interviews?

A: For selected applicants: Bill Lane Center staff will review all the applications and conduct in-person or Zoom interviews (for those abroad) for select applicants. Finalists will then be forwarded to the host organization for interviews and selection. 

Q: Can I still apply if I am abroad and not available for an in-person interview?

A: Yes, in these circumstances we will conduct a Zoom interview.

Q: Where do I find the application?

A: Applications can be found on SOLO, Stanford's portal for On- & Off-Campus Learning Opportunities (solo.stanford.edu).

Q: May I apply for more than one internship?

A: Yes, you may apply for up to three internships. You must submit a separate application and cover letter, including your references, resume and transcript, for each internship in which you are interested. However, you may submit the same references, unofficial transcript, and resume for each of your applications.  If you apply to more than three internships, Bill Lane Center staff will decide which three internships to consider you for. 

Q: Can I find out more about the experiences of previous interns at the organization I'm interested in?

A: At the bottom of each internship description, look for links to posts on the Out West blog written by previous summer interns at the same organization.

Q: Are the internships paid?

A: Yes, the Bill Lane Center provides a base stipend of $7,500 with additional funding depending on the internship location and the student's financial aid level. The final stipend is between $7,500 and $10,000. Students must give the Bill Lane Center permission for the Office of Financial Aid to release their aid level. This information is kept confidential. If student permission is not given, the financial aid supplement cannot be provided. 

Please note: A stipend is considered a resource and it may have an impact on a student’s financial aid. To comply with US Department of Education regulations, student payments, awards, prizes, and gifts that are made available to the student because they are a Stanford student, must be reported to the Financial Aid Office. The Financial Aid Office is responsible for the disbursement of stipend funds to undergraduates.

  • For more information, please visit the Financial Aid Office's webpage about the student stipend policy
  • The Financial Aid Office expects students to check their own eligibility for research stipends. Students can access their Financial Aid Notification/Award Letter by following the steps below:
    • Log on to AXESS.
    • At the top of the AXESS page, hover over STUDENT.
    • Under Quick Links, select View financial aid notification.
    • If the student’s award notification shows a remaining balance under “Student Responsibility,” then the student can be awarded an academic year stipend up to that total amount.

Q: What does it mean that "housing and transportation are the responsibility of the intern"?

A: Students are expected to budget for their living expenses, which include housing and transportation, from the stipend provided. Host organizations may assist with finding housing and, in certain instances, provide housing free or at a discounted rate. Though most internships do not require a car throughout the summer, some internships are in a rural location and students are responsible for getting to and from the internship site. Please read each internship description carefully for details on SOLO, Stanford's portal for On- & Off-Campus Learning Opportunities (solo.stanford.edu).

Q: I am a graduating senior or co-term. Am I eligible for the internships?

A: Graduating seniors are always eligible to apply; co-terms, who still have undergraduate status are also eligible. Some internships are open to master's students. Only Stanford students are eligible for these internships.

Please note: Graduating seniors are eligible if they are graduating in spring quarter but not earlier, e.g., fall or winter quarter of that academic year. 

Q: Do I need to submit a transcript for each internship to which I apply?

A: Yes, please submit one unofficial transcript with each application. Separate cover letters, two references and  a resume also need to be submitted for each internship to which you apply.

Q: Do I need to request a letter of recommendation?

A: No, you do not need to request a letter of recommendation. You are required to submit two references, however. These references may be contacted so please ask for their permission.

Q: Are the internship start and end dates flexible?

A: Yes, interns may work out start and end dates with their host mentors as long as the total duration is 9-10 consecutive weeks over the summer for the full-time internship position. 

Q: Where can I find more information about each internship?

A: In addition to the links provided on each internship page, all students are invited to visit the Bill Lane Center's office in Y2E2, room 174 to ask more questions about the internships or you may choose to contact the Bill Lane Center student ambassadors.

In addition, you can learn about the day-to-day aspects of each internship experience in the Out West student blog, or contact a previous year's intern directly. Contact Education Manager Corinne Thomas if you have difficulties getting in touch with previous interns or need more information.

Q: When will I hear back about my application?

A: The Center strives to work with the host organizations to fill the positions by early- to mid-March, though the interview process can extend to the end of winter quarter. If you have any questions about the status of your application during the review and interview process please contact Education Manager Corinne Thomas.

Q: I’m not a Stanford student. I am still eligible to apply?

A: Unfortunately, our summer internships are only open to Stanford students.