Nathan Ersig ’98
Senior Director of Development
Career Connections Fund
Savannah Hartman ’18 came to Luther College knowing that she wanted to work with the elderly. “I’ve always wanted to help people,” she says, “and I found that niche with geriatric work.” She met with the social work faculty right away and declared a major in that field.
Savannah got hands-on experience working with elderly people through her summer job at a continuing care community in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She also did some job shadowing related to geriatric services. But all of her experience outside the classroom was in one-on-one work, and she wanted to see if she could build a career helping people on a larger scale.
So in the spring of 2017, Savannah contacted the Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging in Waterloo, Iowa, to see if she might intern there for the summer. They were happy to have her, but being a nonprofit, were unable to pay Savannah for her work. Fortunately, Savannah had heard about the Luther College Career Center’s Internship Funding Program. She applied and received a grant that paid for her transportation and meals while working for the agency on aging.
Savannah lived with her grandparents in Cedar Falls during the summer. Two days a week, May through August, she commuted to the agency headquarters in Waterloo. She arranged educational talks on elder abuse, worked with a caregiver program in Dubuque, Iowa, and helped with a Meals on Wheels program. Savannah learned the importance of networking with other agencies and how referral programs work. She also learned a lot about elder abuse prevention, which, she says, “instilled in me a drive to continue to work to prevent it and make people more aware.” She now envisions a career in community outreach.
Would Savannah have been able to do this internship, gaining skills and insight, without the Career Center’s aid? She’s not confident she could have. If she’d had to pay her own internship expenses, she might not have been able to save enough of her summer job earnings for school expenses in the fall.
Internships and Networking are Crucial
Employers and graduate schools increasingly expect that students have internships and other relevant applied-learning experience on their résumés. The Career Center begins working with students in their first two years at Luther to set them up for appropriate and useful internships by having them explore where their gifts, interests, and talents lie.
Once they’ve discerned that, students are able to:
- get better internships
- seek better jobs
- start at higher pay
- gain acceptance to better schools
- be more competitive for assistantships and fellowships
Like Savannah, not all students who want internships are able to do them without help from the Career Center. In summer 2017 alone, 38 Luther College students received support from the Career Center for internships. The amounts requested ranged from $200 to $2,000. Typically up to $1,000 is awarded for a January Term internship and up to $2,000 is awarded for a summer internship. Each experience is different, but they all help the students apply knowledge and skills they gain in the classroom and explore whether employment in their field of interest is a good fit for them.
Gifts Provided Momentum
The Career Center’s funding for internships and faculty-student-alumni mini-grants were pilot projects created through the generosity of alumni couples Jim ’86 and Kathy (Winter) Thomsen ’85 and Bill ’95 and Kirsten (Stumme) Bohmer ’94, who each donated $50,000 toward the programs. Begun in 2015, the pilots have been a big success. To build on this momentum, the college now invites alumni, parents, and friends to invest in the continuation of these Career Center initiatives through gifts of current and endowed support.
Your Support Expands Opportunities
As Luther College expands student opportunities through the Career Center, we seek a combination of funds for the present and the future. Current gifts go to work immediately to support Luther students now. Gifts to the Career Connections Fund, an endowed fund supporting the work of the Career Center, ensure that new opportunities for applied learning continue in the future. Both are needed, and donors can designate a portion of their gifts or pledges toward current support and endowed support.
Please contact the Luther College Development Office at 563-387-1862 for more information.
Career Center Goals
Internships and networking with Luther College alumni and friends are key to the Career Center’s primary three goals:
- to build enduring relationships with on- and off-campus constituents
- to inspire curiosity about careers and help students explore how careers work
- to help students consider calling and vocation in exploring their careers
Alumni Open Doors
Luther alumni connections have been an exciting component of the Internship Funding Program, offering students internships in their own businesses as well as wider networking opportunities. Alumni participants open doors for Luther students, increasing their access to workplaces around the world.
In addition to supporting off-campus internships, Career Center mini-grants have made it possible over the past three years for nearly 100 Luther College alumni to return to campus to share their stories and knowledge about their fields of work. When alumni tell their own stories, students realize, “That’s possible for me, too.”
Nathan Ersig ’98
Senior Director of Development