Stritch internships receive donor support

December 21, 2018

Recognizing the crucial role internships play in preparing students to embark on a successful start to a career, Judy, ’96, and Dan Linsley (shown on the left) are underwriting internships for Cardinal Stritch University students.

The Linsleys witnessed how important internships were to their three children, particularly their youngest son Kevin, and during Dan’s own career at Exacto Spring Corporation in Grafton. They also learned of Stritch’s commitment to providing a rich array of internship opportunities for students, led and coordinated by the University’s Experiential Learning and Career Education (ELCE) Office. This personal perspective inspired them to direct their support specifically to the funding of internship experiences.

An internship is a directed, practical experience that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom. Most internships are exploratory and offer work experience or on-the-job training in a field about which the student wants to learn more.

“Students who complete internships improve their marketability, develop a professional network, and acquire essential career competencies,” said Sean Lybeck-Smoak, Stritch’s ELCE director.

The ELCE office conducted a survey of 2016-17 graduates from traditional undergraduate bachelor's degree programs and found that 86% completed at least one internship, student teaching, nursing clinical or advanced design project. That high percentage is due, in part, to the generosity of funders like the Linsleys.

“Many majors don’t have a requirement like education or healthcare, so internships provide students with an important taste of the professional world,” said Judy. “Internships also help students recognize where their degree can take them. We were impressed that Stritch recognizes how critical internships are to the students’ long-term success.”

“Students can ask themselves, ‘Can I see a future in this career?’” added Dan. “Internships help students make the transition from theory to practicality and offer a realistic view of what their work experience could be like in their chosen field.”

Internships are an essential component of the Stritch experience and provide real-world, professional experiences that give students the tools and experience necessary to succeed in a competitive employment environment. Companies and organizations offer both paid and unpaid internships. Unpaid internships provide students the same exposure to professional experiences and training, but without a stipend. These experiences may be less desirable to students who are seeking supplemental income to help with expenses incurred as a college student.

“A majority of the internships are unpaid because many non-profit organizations, small businesses, and start-up businesses operate on tight budgets,” shared Lybeck-Smoak. “We risk excluding students with financial need who need to work to pay tuition costs not covered by financial aid and loans, as well as those who have other obligations simply because they cannot afford to take an unpaid internship.  It’s common for our students to be enrolled in courses on a full-time basis and work 30-40 hours a week. Funding unpaid internships supports access to opportunity for all students.”

“We didn’t want to see any student miss the experience of an internship because of a lack of funding,” said Dan.

The Linsleys attended the Dec. 5 Reverse Job Fair, at which Stritch students shared their academic achievement, talents and interests with area employers from a wide variety of industries.  

"We appreciated the opportunity to meet so many wonderful students and were very impressed by their accomplishments," said Judy.

Also on Dec. 5, Ascendium Education Group, formerly known as Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation, received the Spirit of St. Francis Service Award: University Supporter. Ascendium provided the grant funds that launched Stritch’s Career Ready Internship Program and has funded student success programs which have had a significant impact on Stritch students for more than eight years.

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