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Viterbo School of Business plans to pay for students unpaid internships

LA CROSSE, WI (WKBT) - Internships can give college students valuable work experience in their field

But many are unpaid or pay very little, which can be a big challenge for students already struggling under high tuition costs.

That's why Viterbo is looking to carry some of that weight for its students.

Working multiple part-time jobs, while taking class and internships may no longer be necessary for some Viterbo students.

The university announced it will make sure every student is paid at least minimum wage no matter what internship they take.


Internships can pave the way for a students future.

"This give students the ability to say not only did I learn about management and leadership I but I tried it and here are some artifacts from my internship," said Dean of the School of Business Tom Knothe.

But there's still the problem of paying the bills in the present.

"It's hard because I have a part time job. I have a few part time jobs actually," said Viterbo Business student Dylan Baker.

It's a problem Viterbo's School of Business is trying to solve for students like Baker by paying students for their un-paid internships.

"I get the sense that it will help out a lot of people. A lot of people work multiple part time jobs and they're pretty excited they don't have to worry about paying rent and all that stuff while doing their internship," said Baker.

"Most of the unpaid ones are at non-profit organizations, so we see great value in our students working there," said Knothe.

Knothe says grant money helped spark the idea, but when the initiative starts next fall it will likely be funded through the operating budget.

"We're not exactly sure how much will need to be funded but we have a pretty good idea that institutional funds will be put towards this," said Knothe.

And while it will help students out, it's also good news for local employers like Inland Labeling who look for job candidates with internship experience.

"It definitely sets them apart from other candidates knowing that they have had experience in the field that they studied is very beneficial to them and really sets them apart from everyone else," said Inland Labeling Human Resources Generalist Megan Grussendorf.

And while Baker already has one internship under his belt, the funding will allow him to stretch his boundaries while looking for another one.

"This grant will help me out a lot because otherwise I would have to stay in the area and sport's management is kind of limited in the area," said Baker.

Inland Labeling staff say they've actually hired Viterbo students that have interned with them.

They say it's a great way for students to get experience while the company gets a sense of their work ethic.

Viterbo will also pay students who receive a small stipend from their internships.

The goal is to make sure each student is receiving at least minimum wage for their work.

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