Cornell University

Office of Career Services

201 Ives Hall, 607-255-7816

WISP Student FAQ

If you do not find the answer to your question on this page, please feel free to contact us.

How do I apply for the Winter Intersession Program (WISP)?

To participate in WISP, you must complete two steps:

  1. Attend the required info session, which occurs in mid-September.*
  2. Register and submit your résumé through the online application.

*Important deadlines will be covered at the required info session.  Failure to comply with these deadlines may compromise your eligibility to participate in the program.

What is the WISP lottery and how does it work?

The WISP lottery is the process by which the majority of students are matched with their WISP internships. It is a unique placement method, in that you as a student get to choose your employer, rather than the other way around. This is intended to level the playing field for all participants, regardless of previous experience, and allows everyone equal opportunity to explore various career options.

The lottery functions much like the campus housing lottery. You will be randomly assigned a lottery time. Prior to the lottery day, you should review all the available positions in the job descriptions section and develop a list of your top five or six WISP choices (being sure that you meet the minimum qualifications for each). On the day of the lottery, you will come in to the office with your list and select a WISP from all the remaining available opportunities. Once you have selected a WISP in the lottery, you are obligated to complete that internship.

Lottery times are non-transferable and cannot be changed. If you absolutely cannot be present, you may authorize someone to act on your behalf. Please notify the WISP coordinator prior to the lottery day if you are sending a proxy.

How can I get a paid WISP?

A limited number of paid WISPs are available each year. For these, the employer has the option to select a particular student to fill the position through a resume collection and in some cases an interview. All paid WISP opportunities will be posted on the WISP website and CCNet. Instructions for applying for paid WISPs on CCNet will be sent in mid-October. It is your responsibility to check the page periodically and keep abreast of all available paid opportunities. Students will be notified whether they have been selected for any of the paid WISPs prior to the WISP lottery in order that those students not selected may still be placed in a non-paid position.

There are no WISPs posted for my geographic area. Can I still participate?

Absolutely. Although we are always trying to expand our geographic base of available WISPs, there are students who come from areas where internships are traditionally scarce. In these cases, it is possible to work with a career advisor in OCS to conduct a targeted search for a WISP opportunity. This will require extra work on your part, but is well worth the effort. If you are interested in pursuing this option, it is very important that you contact the office soon as possible to get started. The earlier you begin your search, the better your chances of securing a WISP in your geographic and career-interest areas.

Are the dates for WISP flexible?

In many cases, yes.The WISP posting for each opportunity specifies the dates and whether or not they are flexible.Please play close attention to this. If the sponsor says they are not flexible, then you must not select that opportunity unless you are available for the entire listed time period—all day, every day. The standard WISP period runs from just after the fall semester is over until just before the spring semester begins, though not every opportunity begins in December.  Please read the postings carefully.

What if my plans change?

We expect all students to honor their WISP commitments. It is expected that you will determine your availability prior to being selected for a paid WISP or choosing a WISP on lottery day.  Be sure you talk with your family about the program to ensure you will have transportation available to you and to make sure they have not made other plans for you over winter break.In addition, if you are participating in fraternity or sorority recruitment, please check those dates and select opportunities that fit with your available time. If an unforeseeable circumstance impacts your participation, please notify your sponsor and our office immediately.