The new program will place up to 15 students in entry-level summer jobs at local corporations, where they will work 35-40 hours a week for six weeks. Organizers expect positions to vary, but students will be able to earn up to $3,000 toward their tuition.
Stephanie Spiewak ’02, a guidance counselor at Saint Viator, helped shape the innovative program. She points out that school officials will hold a training session for students to prepare them for their jobs and for what to expect in the corporate environment.
“Students can participate in this program in addition to receiving other financial aid,” Spiewak added. “Between taking ownership of their education and building relationships with professionals in the corporate world, we think it’s a win-win.”
Last summer, the school ran a pilot program which offered four students jobs at two law firms run by Saint Viator alumni, including Andy Kelleher ’86 of Kelleher & Buckley, LLC in North Barrington and Dean Niro ’82 of Niro, Haller & Niro in Chicago.
Their jobs ranged from preparing spreadsheets and assisting with payroll and other accounting responsibilities, to organizing files, typing documents and other clerical responsibilities.
“I was thrilled that our law office was part of the pilot program,” Niro said. “As an alum, I know how Saint Viator has been a valuable part of my life, and I want as many kids as possible to share that same experience. Plus, the kids were valuable employees who exceeded our expectations.”
Kelleher said his firm felt it was important to give students a chance to learn and gain new skills, and all in a safe environment.
“The biggest gift was their presence,” Kelleher said, “seeing their excitement and desire to learn, working to improve themselves and making a positive impact on the business they were supporting.”
Office Manager Jill Bogaerts, summed it up this way: “They were a ray of sunshine.”
Matt Hower ’75, a member of Saint Viator’s finance committee, said the school is looking at adding jobs this summer with law firms, insurance companies and possibly a graphic design firm. They also plan to expand the program annually to offer more and more students the opportunity to be part of it.
“We’re looking to integrate ourselves into the community,” Hower said, “and draw more outside support in helping students afford tuition.”
Senior Elizabeth Krause and her sister, Anna ’17, worked at Niro’s law firm in Chicago. They both described it as a highlight of their summer, commuting into the city and working in a professional setting.
“Not only are you helping your parents with your tuition, but you’re also helping yourself,” Krause said. “In the next few months, I will be applying to colleges, and they will love seeing on my resume that I spent my summer working at a law firm.”
Anna agreed. “The Corporate Work Study Program gives students at Saint Viator a jump start on life experiences.”