As a college student who isn’t from this area, Elizabeth Wright admits she had never heard of Fastenal, even though they’re the largest fastener distributor in North America and headquartered in Winona. But all that is changing through Saint Mary’s University’s new Cooperative Education Program. From now until they graduate, Wright, a sophomore at Saint Mary’s, and Jordan Malikowski, another Saint Mary’s sophomore, are in the process of becoming immersed in numerous aspects of the business — from distribution to the corporate offices. Likewise, across town, Kyle Brodt ’19 worked this past year at Merchants Bank for 25 hours a week, getting a first-hand look at how the banking world operates.
Saint Mary’s co-op program, in its first year, is like an intense internship. Students receive a meaningful work immersion experience while earning credits (and in some cases compensation), all while being able to participate fully in campus life. The program benefits students with real-world experience, a competitive advantage, and a potential job. On the other end of the spectrum, the program benefits employers by providing them a funnel of students with fresh ideas, as well as potential employees — ones who already know the ins and outs of their business before they graduate. Read the full story to hear more about what Wright and Malikowski are learning through the co-op program.