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News

Carthage strengthens commitment to internships

July 11, 2018

Buoyed by the strides it made with a grant-funded internship program, Carthage is carrying that momentum forward.

During the three-year Career Ready Internship Initiative, the College created 212 paid internships with local businesses and nonprofits. Thanks to a $349,000 grant from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation, those internships went to juniors and seniors with financial need who otherwise would’ve had to settle for unpaid work or miss out entirely.

Karra Pessetti ’16 worked at the Kenosha County Courthouse as a Clerk of Circuit Courts intern as part of the Great Lakes Career Ready Internship Grant.Karra Pessetti ’16 worked at the Kenosha County Courthouse as a Clerk of Circuit Courts intern as part of the Great Lakes Career Ready Internship Grant.Including a previous pilot program, the Madison-based nonprofit organization has partnered with Carthage since 2013.

“We believe in the importance of leveling the playing field,” said Great Lakes program manager Carolynn Lee, “and Carthage has demonstrated a deep commitment to this same goal by exceeding grant goals.”

As the Career Ready grant period drew to a close, Carthage hosted a celebratory breakfast event in May. Several current and former interns attended, along with their supervisors.

One of the student speakers, Lottie Brooks ’18, gushed about her yearlong internship with Special Olympics Wisconsin. After she switched majors from special education to communication, the position allowed her to support people with disabilities in a different capacity.

Lottie’s mentor at the regional office in Racine connected her to the CEO at the organization’s state headquarters in Madison. The recent graduate hopes to remain involved while working as a project manager at Epic, a major health care software company.

“I made it through all three rounds of interviews at Epic, and they were thrilled at how much experience I already had in the field despite being an entry-level applicant,” Lottie said.

The College’s emphasis on real-world work experience reaches back more than two decades. Retired Kraft Foods executive Edward Smeds ’57 has provided stipends to more than 400 summer interns since the Smeds Executive Internship Program started in 1995.

Building on the progress made over the life of the Great Lakes grant, Carthage is now strengthening that commitment.

This summer, gifts from the Tarble Family Foundation and two alumni donors (Christine King ’97 and John Johnson ’98) are allowing 46 interns to gain experience in their chosen fields. Each student can receive up to $2,000, making low-paying or unpaid internships more tenable.

Retired Kraft Foods executive Edward Smeds ’57 returns each year to attend presentations by students in the Smeds Executive Internship Program, which he established in 1995.Retired Kraft Foods executive Edward Smeds ’57 returns each year to attend presentations by students in the Smeds Executive Internship Program, which he established in 1995.Many of the employer partnerships formed under the previous grant continue to bear fruit in this new, home-grown initiative. It’s the first baby step in a multifaceted career development program that Carthage is beginning to shape, driven by a $15 million gift from longtime supporter Jan Tarble.

“We have been excited to hear about the continuation of paid internships as a key strategy for engaging students in learning and keeping them engaged on their path toward degree completion,” Ms. Lee said. “Carthage has been a strong and valued partner with Great Lakes, and we’re so excited about the impact your work will continue to have for your students.”

The bridge from college to the workforce has become increasingly vital. In a recent survey, 91 percent of college-seekers considered field experience “very valuable,” and help with internship searches is consistently the No. 1 reason Carthage students visit the Career Services office.

Internships in three different health care settings have affirmed for biology major Renee’ Jalbert ’18 that their value extends beyond a line on a resume.

“I believe some of the greatest learning experiences come from things you didn’t expect,” she said, “because those are the areas you can grow the most in.”

Internships at Carthage