Lineart icons of faces on computer screens along with a giftbox

Donors Boost Hands-On Opportunities

Jared Mainini is that lucky Duck whose internship last summer led straight to his dream job. But he would not have made it to square one without an assist from new funds that help Lundquist College of Business students manage the extra expenses that usually accompany opportunities to get practical experience.

In Mainini’s case, a for-credit internship with Wasserman Media Group, a global sports marketing and talent management company, is something many students do not even try for because they know they cannot afford it. It meant giving up his paying summer job and coming up with an extra term’s worth of tuition in order to receive credit.

But that is not all. The internship was with the firm’s New York City office, which in ordinary times would have involved buying plane tickets and taking on extra living costs. Instead, interning remotely during the coronavirus pandemic meant Mainini had to buy his own office equipment, including a full-sized computer monitor. In addition, although his living expenses stayed the same, he no longer had a paying job to cover them.

Fortunately, Lundquist College alumni are helping Edward Maletis Dean Sarah E. Nutter build an endowment to ensure such obstacles do not stop students like Mainini, who will earn his MBA in sports business this June.

Chris Bennett, senior associate director in the college’s Mohr Career Services, said gifts from several donors made internships, small independent projects, and other kinds of resume-worthy experience possible last summer for 47 students, including Mainini.

“Our goal is to connect every Lundquist student with the people and opportunities that will help them set and achieve their career plans, but many do not have the financial means to do so,” Bennett said. “By providing financial support, we not only reduce barriers, but we also signal to students that practical experience is a critical component of a business education.”

Geri Kowitt Rumbolz, BS ’77 (finance) and MBA ’78 (marketing), responded immediately when she learned about the dean’s priority of helping Lundquist College students become career-ready by the time they graduate.

“The chance to gain relevant practical experience during college can make or break a person’s ability to launch into a great career,” Rumbolz said. “I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to give back to the UO in a way that opens doors for students while they are still in school.”

For Jim and Linda Pliska, supporting the fund builds on their earlier gifts to create scholarships. They met as students at the UO: Jim in finance (1981) and Linda in leisure studies and services (1982).

“Even during our era, we knew students who were unable to apply their education because they lacked the experience employers were looking for in first-time hires,” said Jim Pliska. “Today’s students face one of the most competitive job markets ever. Knowing that our gift is helping them get into the fields they want makes us very happy.”

Now Bennett is planning ways to expand the impact of donor funding by creating nontraditional types of experiences. An example is a project-sourcing tool where alumni and friends would post freelance opportunities or special projects.

“Experiential learning happens in different forms,” Bennett said. “We want to help students who are still exploring gain a variety of experiences through picking up two or three projects.”

For his part, Mainini said the financial backing he received from the Lundquist College has completely changed his life. When Wasserman offered to extend his summer internship into the fall, the college again provided Mainini with the financial boost he needed to continue. The payoff? In February, Mainini accepted Wasserman’s offer of a full-time position on the team responsible for the Wells Fargo account.

“Big donations get the fame and glory, but gifts like the ones that helped me are just as important,” he said. “The generosity and support I received makes me excited to get into the work force and give back, both monetarily and with my time.”

For more information or to make a gift in support of experiential learning at the Lundquist College, please contact Kurt Zimmerman, Executive Director of Development, at or 541-346-5491.

—Melody Leslie, University Communications