Lakeland’s First Student-Run Business, Launch

Emi Tsuji, Staff Reporter

On and off-campus job and internship opportunities are offered through Lakeland’s new student-run businesses initiative called, Launch.  

Launch is a student-run businesses initiative established in May 2020. It provides support for students to find on and off-campus jobs, internships, and nonprofit organizations by creating new jobs on campus and collaborating with the local community.  

 Launch is hiring students for four divisions: The “Hospitality Division” which provides outstanding customer service and event planning, the “Nonprofit Division” which provides staff for local nonprofit organizations with little cost, the “Merchandising Division” which produces Lakeland’s official goods for branding, and the “Develop U Division” which provides training sessions for local company’s employees by Lakeland instructors.  

  Kym Leibham, director of strategic outreach at Lakeland, has been overseeing the business opportunities for students since Launch was in the planning process. She stated the aim of Launch is “First of all, we needed more jobs (for students), but second of all, we also wanted to be able to provide jobs that had the opportunity to develop more professional skills and training.” The goal of Launch is to provide 10% of jobs that the co-op program needs in a year. She said that seven students got their job at the local nonprofit organization through Launch so far.   

 Launch is not only for students in the co-op program but also for any students who are seeking job experience to prepare for their future careers. Amanda Brandt, a junior and chief marketing officer of Launch, mentioned that Launch is open to all students in any major. She stated, “I think the majority of jobs right now are for business and marketing majors for our nonprofit positions. However, very soon, there will be more opportunities for almost every major.” 

 Skylar Garza, a junior, marketing major student, recently got a job at the nonprofit organization, Partners for Community Development, located in Sheboygan. “Launch gives me the opportunity to work for a nonprofit organization but still get paid. I am a co-op student and needed an internship that not only gave me great work experience but also provided a source of income,” Garza stated. 

 Launch is a beneficial learning opportunity for students to run existing jobs on campus or to involve themselves with starting up a new job. Scott Niederjohn, senior vice president for cooperative education and economic development at Lakeland, researched student-run businesses for Launch’s establishment.  

 He explained the benefit of having student-run businesses at Lakeland saying, “Students are responsible for the financial, marketing, sales, human resources, logistics and other aspects of running on and off-campus businesses. As we consider buying or starting new businesses, it also provides students interested in entrepreneurship an opportunity to learn more about starting their own business.”  

 Now, Lakeland is one of two universities which has full-fledged student-run businesses in Wisconsin. Leibham stated, “The other schools that have student-run businesses are Harvard University and Cornell University…. They are big schools. You don’t have to be in a big school to do innovative, interesting, and impactful work. We are doing that here in a manner which I am really proud of.” 

 Launch is currently seeking two people for the event planning position of Launch and staff for a nonprofit organization. For more information, visit Launch’s page on Lakeland’s website: