Friends of UM Step Up to Give Students a Leg Up

Dave Franke stands with UM finance major Claire DalmanWhen he was a junior at the University of Washington, Dave Franke was unsure of where he wanted to be later in life. He took a part-time job working with a local company, and began to learn what life after college would be like. When the Franke family was deciding how to give back to college students, Dave’s experience partly helped them shape the program they run at their private equity firm, Indigo Partners.

“We want our support to be more than just financial,” he says. “We want to provide opportunities, advice, guidance, experiences and any other resources we can bring to bear.”

The program, which the company also has in place with Northern Arizona University, came to the University of Montana last year. It brings a graduating student to work at Indigo for one to two years and helps them gain valuable experience and form connections in the business world. The first UM Indigo associate, Nate Berry, spent the last year with the firm and joins Boston College’s MBA program this fall.

“Not that we wouldn’t find room if it made sense, but we would prefer that these interns not come back to us,” Franke says. “Our job is to help them obtain skills and knowledge to get out of the nest and find their way in whatever career path they want to pursue.”

Finance major and UM track and field athlete Claire Dalman joined the Indigo team this summer. “This is the catalyst for everything that’s to come,” she says. “I found nothing like it in regards to what I’m going to be able to learn, how much responsibility I’m going to be given and the ability to make a difference that I’m going to have in being there for two years.”

Skyler Anderson is interning this summer with Nike's Skateboarding division

The Frankes worked with the School of Business Administration’s Career Development Program, the only such program for business students in the state, to develop their pipeline for the associates’ program. “Our goal is to help students get jobs at the end of their time at college,” says Estella Anderson, director of the Career Development Program. “What makes us stand apart as a school is not just an outstanding education, but also the internships and jobs students can get. The Career Development Program helps bring that all together and helps students become very well-rounded.”

The business school has also made a strong connection with Nike, which offers two summer internships to UM students each year. The Nike internship program started thanks to two UM alumni – Eric Sprunk ’86 and Stefanie Strack ’04 – who wanted to help UM students get a leg up in their careers. “Nike’s internship program is highly competitive and rigorous,” says Kathleen Tarkalson, internship director at the business school. “These students definitely work hard and return with a global understanding of business from one of the best companies in the world.”

Juniors Matthew Belles and Skyler Anderson are interning this summer in Nike’s Global Finance and Skateboard divisions, respectively. Belles, from Spokane, Washington, is a double major in finance and economics.

"I want to get that real-world experience that is top notch, and I don’t think I could find a better place than Nike to do that,” says Belles. Anderson, a marketing major from Fairfield, Montana, transferred from Montana State University at the end of last semester. “I just wasn’t getting the education that I wanted,” says Anderson. “The professors there are brilliant people, but a lot of them are research based. Here, the professors have gone out and had a career and came back to teach. That real-world knowledge is what I wanted."

The internships will help set Belles and Anderson ahead of their peers when they graduate and go out into the workforce, Tarkalson says.
“It’s internships like these that prove you can go anywhere you want to go from the University of Montana.”