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Service Leaders Mentor St. Louis Internship Program Students

Since 1992, the St. Louis Internship Program (SLIP) has focused on providing hope and opportunity for high school students in financial need through paid summer internships, employability training and college and career planning. This summer, college-bound juniors and seniors from SLIP got a unique opportunity to develop their business skills while experiencing life as a college student when they came to the Chaifetz School of Business for the Creating Executive Opportunities (CEO) Program July 22-24.

Students lived and dined on campus during the three-day residential program while learning from Saint Louis University and other community officials. The young executives were assessed based on interest and divided into four groups tasked with developing a proposal to create social change through business. 

Chaifetz School students write business strategies on a whiteboard while serving as mentors during college access program hosted by St. Louis Internship Program at the Chaifetz School of Business.

Chaifetz School sophomores Samantha Schmidt (left) and Lance Hussey (right) share their business knowledge with students participating in the St. Louis Internship Program's CEO Program at the Chaifetz School of Business July 22-24. Photo by Kelly Siempelkamp

SLU students Samantha Schmidt and Lance Hussey, members of the Chaifetz School's Service Leadership Program, volunteered as mentors during the program. They answered business specific questions as CEO Program participants created their plans for social causes they were passionate about and supported students in preparing a final pitch to a panel of potential buyers or donors including Chaifetz School faculty and administrators. 

"It was rewarding to see how much better the students got each time they practiced their presentation," Hussey said.

The final project ideas included creating recreation centers and transforming houses along the Delmar divide. The winning group proposed the transformation of an abandoned building, formerly a local high school, into a community recreation center to diminish crime rates in the area. The proposal drew inspiration from East St. Louis’ Christian Activity Center (CAC) where Chaifetz School Service Leadership students have hosted past Service Day events.

"Their plan was to recruit people of all ages in the local community to help diminish crime rates," Schmidt said. "The team wanted to charge fees for membership which supported their cost of refinishing the abandoned building."

Ben Smyth, Chaifetz School Service Leadership Program Manager, helped SLIP organize the CEO Program on campus and recommended Hussey and Schmidt participate in the program. They were glad to spend a few days of their summer sharing what they’ve learned at the Chaifetz School with the St. Louis Internship Program Students. 

"I was eager to volunteer because I love giving back to the community I grew up in, and I also enjoy working with younger students," Schmidt said. "I wanted to assist by presenting the knowledge I gained within the business school to students who may not have had the opportunity to learn it themselves."

Biggest Takeaway from Participating in the St. Louis Internship Program

Schmidt, a sophomore studying marketing at the Chaifetz School, explained the program was a unique volunteer opportunity. As a mentor for the students, she had the chance to put her business knowledge to use to assist students in furthering their ideas.

"I think this was my favorite volunteer opportunity so far only because I got to actually apply my knowledge from the business school to help kids who wouldn’t have the opportunity otherwise to learn these important skills," Schmidt said.

For Hussey, a sophomore studying finance at the Chaifetz School, volunteering for the program changed his perspective on problem solving in the community.

"This opportunity specifically reminded me that sometimes the best solution to a problem isn’t something flashy and new,” Hussey said, “but it can be a simple change in people’s minds which solves the issue.”

Impact of the Service Leadership Program

As an academic minor, the Service Leadership Program is helping shape what Hussey has learned through his first two years at SLU. 

"I continue to build relationships with people from different walks of life that show me different ways to view issues and lifestyles," Hussey said.

The Chaifetz School Service Leadership Program helps develop students into leaders through dedicating more than 200 hours of service to making differences within the community whether that be developing relationships, tutoring children or participating in mission trips.

"Through each service site I attend, I notice varying lifestyles and backgrounds among those that I serve," Schmidt said. "I love working face-to-face with people and collaborating to work toward a common goal."