Villanova comes in at number nine on The Princeton Review’s 2015 ranking list for Best Schools for Internships, reported in the 2015 edition of our book Colleges That Pay You Back. And options abound in each of the Colleges, regardless of major. In the School of Business, for instance, the Spring Accounting Internship Program gives junior accounting majors the chance to work full-time at accounting firm during tax season. Students who intern through the program can then stay on track to graduate in four years by taking courses in the summer. In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, rising juniors should check out an internship placement (for credit!) with the Catholic Relief Services. The office is a mere ten minutes from campus and the perfect place to solidify your commitment to peace and global justice. If law school is in your future, internships with Villanova’s Law School Clinical Program lets undergrads work with current Villanova law students, “who represent real clients with real legal issues.” Six law clinics run the gamut from Refugee and Emigrant Services to Juvenile Law. And in the College of Engineering, the Joseph DiGiacomo Internship with the Center for Advanced Communication is geared toward students interested in signal processing and wireless If you have your eye on the entertainment industry, then The Los Angeles Internship, offered in conjunction with Philadelphia’s Temple University, could be your induction into the field. A program in Vatican City lets students take courses in Rome while interning in the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Internet Office of the Holy See, and the Rome Bureau of the Catholic News Service. A longstanding relationship with The Washington Center links students to internships in the D.C. area. Plus, there are plenty of study abroad options in London, Ireland, Australia, South America, and Europe that incorporate internships into the travel experience.
Students can also choose a First-Year Learning Community, where freshman students live, study, and work together. Each learning community has a specific theme, and students are grouped together based on the themes they select, which include Arts and Culture, Creativity on the Page, Environmental Leadership, Global Citizenship, and Caritas: Service Learning. In addition to living together, students in each Learning Community come together for their Augustine and Culture Seminar, a course specially designed to address topics related to each Learning Community’s theme. They also take a one-credit workshop, called “4th Hours” that meets in their residence hall and explores their chosen theme through discussion and small group work. Students in these Learning Communities benefit from a collective college biography: Their shared experiences and class work helps bond them together and their common interests give them a sense of collective identity and purpose. And it helps that the ethos of the Villanova student body is “based on community, service, and friendship. Villanova is a school where everyone is kind, helpful, and dedicated to work as well as fun,” one student told us. The Learning Communities are a bit of both. Students get “special opportunities to attend plays, concerts, lectures, and dinners off campus, with their professors, classmates, and hall mates,” according to the university, and they benefit from increased attention from professors, who “seek to create meaningful educational experiences both in and out of class.”
Predictably, students hold the Service Learning Community in high regard. “The Service Learning Community is so popular you actually have to apply to be part of it,” one student said. In addition to the other benefits of the First-Year Learning Communities, students in Caritas make weekly trips to tutor students in a Philadelphia high school. Students love that “Villanova offers great service experiences” and look forward every week to “driving into Philly to play with kids and help them with their studies.”
The popularity of Caritas among first-years has spawned a sophomore level group, one that expands upon the activities of its freshman counterpart. Students in the sophomore Service Learning Community, or SLC, work with one of the group’s community partners—which provide services like adult literacy and youth education—for at least three hours a week while they continue to take the “4th Hour” class. In addition, these students undertake a Community Action Project at the community site where they work. Students are challenged with a problem or issue that is of vital concern to the organization’s efforts and then devise a plan to address it. These projects provide students with an opportunity to troubleshoot real-world problems and develop cooperative solutions while working in small groups. Past projects have included organizing and running a talent show to raise the self-esteem of elementary school students, developing a leadership camp at a nearby high school, creating a volunteer manual for the Graterford Prison Literacy Program, and translating adult literacy manuals into three languages.
In addition to other requirements, like attending certain lectures and completing a reading series, student in the SLC also are required to take one of the university’s Service Learning Classes, which cover a broad range of topics and academic fields. One example is Urban Education, a course that explores the social, political, and economic factors that shape urban education. Students work with high school seniors to “explore what it is that urban youth truly want and need in their educational experiences, and . . . deliberate collectively on the reform agenda best suited to meeting those needs and aspirations,” according to the university. Another example is a studio art class in mural painting, which gives students an idea of what a real commissioned gig feels like. In one such class, students were tasked with painting murals in a home for children with multiple disabilities. A current undergraduate told us, “Service is probably the largest highlight of what Villanova has to offer. What I have learned through the different service opportunities offered by Villanova truly has made me the person I am today.”
Villanova alums are entrepreneurs and inventors, CEOs and nonprofit leaders, professors and Broadway producers. Notable Wildcats among their ranks are Madeline M. Bell, ’83 NSG, President and Chief Operating Officer of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; John L. Hennessy, PhD ’73 ENG, President of Stanford University; and Alexander J. Martins ’86 VSB, Chief Executive Officer of the Orlando Magic. Current students can reach out to alumni for career advice and mentorship through Career Connections, a contacts database, or through their handy Alumni Student Mentoring LinkedIn page. A recent alumni posted a testimonial there: “After joining this LinkedIn subgroup, I posted a discussion asking for help making connections for my career, not exactly sure what to expect. Within one week, I have been contacted by over ten alumni with offers of advice, job leads, and connections to their companies and contacts.” Wildcats continue to grow together long after graduation.