Grad After Grad Internship Initiative Completes Pilot Season
Loyola Academy’s Grad after Grad Internship Initiative completed it’s pilot season this summer. The program emerged from a collaboration between Loyola’s alumni network and corporate sponsors and was designed to introduce students to mentors in their field of interest and help them gain significant work experience and professional formation. Over the course of several weeks, students built competence and confidence in the workplace and learned key skills to support college and career success.
In the spring, members of the Classes of 2020 and 2021 were eligible to apply for the internship opportunity, a process which included a written application, statement of interest, submitted resume, and a ranking of preferred industries. Twenty-five students were given initial interviews, which took place via Zoom. From this group, a cohort of twelve students was selected as the program’s inaugural class.
Due to the pandemic and with health and safety in mind, the number of anticipated summer 2020 internships had to be reduced, with some having been postponed to the school year or delayed until summer 2021.
For those that occurred as planned, the experiences took Ramblers to industries as varied as hospitality, construction, retail and finance in Chicago and the neighboring suburbs:
Ryan O’Donnell ’95 hosted Angelena Simon ’23 at Ballyhoo, a hospitality group in Chicago that includes Gemini Chicago, Coda di Volpe and Old Pueblo Cantina.
Erin Casey Wolf ’98 hosted Charlotte Smith ’21 at Bella Bridesmaids boutique.
Nancy Paridy, chair of theLoyola Academy Board of Trustees, hosted Betsy Leinenweber ’20 at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, the first-ever “translational” research hospital where clinicians, scientists, innovators and technologists work together in the same space.
Joe Flanagan '82 and Louis Morici '10 hosted Jack Garrigus ’21 at Acquirent, an outsourced sales and marketing company.
Dan Valenti '01 hosted Kathleen Wannemacher ’21 at Valenti Builders, which serves all major sectors of the construction industry.
Amy and RyanDeVore hosted Eden Kavanagh ’21 at William Blair, a global investment banking and wealth management firm.
Internships lasted two to six weeks, and Rambler interns spent 20–30 hours per week learning business etiquette and key aspects of their industry. Weekly check ins with a liaison at Loyola kept the interns on track and provided valuable support and feedback. A final evaluation, provided by the industry host, helped Loyola’s interns understand their strengths and areas of improvement.
Eden Kavanagh ’21, who was assigned to the middle office group at wealth management firm William Blair, communicated daily with both the front office and the custodian interface to create and modify existing client reporting portfolios and new client portals in accordance with detailed requests. A rising senior at Loyola, Kavanagh was able to secure a highly competitive internship through Loyola’s Grad After Grad Internship Initiative and was the youngest intern among a cohort of undergraduate students in finance, business and economics.
Teresa Devereux supervised Kavanagh during her internship at William Blair. "We thoroughly enjoyed having Eden in our group and many of us could not believe how well she did with the other thirty-six college interns," she said.
Kavanagh is well aware of the magnitude of the opportunity. “I feel so blessed to have this opportunity while still in high school. It makes me smile knowing I'm at least three years younger than my fellow intern!” Having completed an internship of this caliber while still in high school will give Kavanagh a competitive edge when applying to college, future internships and more.
“This internship has been an incredible experience because I've been able to experience a very candid and in depth view as to what private wealth management is and how it operates,” she says. “I would say to anyone applying next year: be ready for a real workload! I was happy in this sense because I felt that I was not doing stereotypical intern grunt work, but I was actually making a difference.”
Modeled in the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, each internship experience culminated with a self reflection that provided insights to success and highlighted areas of potential improvement.
"It was incredible to see each project be transferred from just a simple drawing on paper to a massive, tangible, multi-million dollar project," says Kathleen Wannemacher '21, who interned at Valenti Builders. "I really appreciate the dedication from Valenti to make this internship happen in person. I definitely have a deeper appreciation for the 1815 Ridge site that I worked on because I was able to see the progress before my eyes daily. Valenti is a company, but also a community, and that sense was amplified in the office. My supervisors made me feel really welcome and did not criticize me for doing wrong because I am new and learning, and also gave me freedom to do important projects on my own."
As for the future of the program, Vice President of Alumni and Network Relations Marty Jennings ’98 shares a vision of expansion. “We hope to expand the preparational experiences for more students during the school year, with the desire to broaden and strengthen students’ professional formational experiences through the great Loyola Academy network.”
Jennings is currently in talks with alumni and business partners, students, and interviewers to gain feedback and build off this year’s momentum. He is looking into expanding opportunities for college level alumni as well as internships in a greater variety of industries.
The Grad After Grad program is a monthly career development programming for juniors and seniors. Its goal is to help upperclassmen learn more about different career trajectories and help students build the skills required to achieve success in a variety of business fields. For more information, please contact Marty at firstname.lastname@example.org.