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Internships help Winsted native discover his life’s passion
Sept. 20, 2010
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By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

WINSTED, MN – Jacob (Jake) Kutz, a 2006 Holy Trinity graduate, has a much better idea of who he is and what his future career choice will be after serving two very different internships this past year – one at the state capitol and one at the mission in San Lucas Toliman in Guatemala.

Kutz has a degree in criminal justice from St. Cloud State University, and he is currently a second-year graduate student at Minnesota State University–Mankato (MSU) in the master of public administration program.

“When I started my program here at MSU, I noticed we could do an internship that involved a public or a nonprofit organization,” Kutz said. “I decided to do both.”

Kutz was unsure of what his “true passion” in life was, and decided each of the internships offered him the chance to discover more about himself and what kind of job options will be available when he graduates from MSU in about a year and a half.

He chose to intern at the capitol to prepare for a possible management role in a public agency, which he could use if he decided to be a police chief or a sheriff.

His internship with the mission in San Lucas was to learn how nonprofit organizations work and the importance of the organizations in the community.

By the time he had finished his second internship, Kutz knew working for a nonprofit organization either fulltime or in some capacity is what he definitely wants in his future. He is also very glad he took the time to do the internships because of what they revealed.

“I recommend anyone in college at any level or just coming out of high school do an internship or job shadow,” Kutz said.

His first internship was at the state capitol from February to May.

It was former State Representative Tony Kielkucki, Kutz’s teacher, coach, and principal while he attended Holy Trinity High School, who suggested an internship at the state capitol for Kutz.

“Tony remembered when he was a state representative having interns working in the offices, and thought it was a great idea for me to learn about the house of representatives, and public agencies in general,” Kutz said.

After doing some research on the Minnesota State Legislative website on internships available, Kutz contacted State Representative Ron Shimanski (R–Silver Lake) and told him about his interest in doing an internship in his office.

“Ron was extremely helpful in getting me the contact information to make this internship a reality,” Kutz said.

Within a short time, he was serving as an intern for Shimanski.

“When I first started, I was able to go to the State of the State Address by Governor Tim Pawlenty, which was an incredible experience.”

Through Shimanski, Kutz learned about the legislative process, and the importance of the different committees in government. He also appreciated being introduced to other members of the house.

“Everywhere we went, he (Shimanski) would introduce me to everyone. It was amazing to meet all of the people that are involved in government,” Kutz said.

He was able to sit in on different committees, house sessions, caucuses, and live press conferences.

During his internship, he wrote letters, assisted with a survey, and took notes on different issues brought up in the committees.

“The internship was very interesting and worthwhile,” Kutz said. “Representative Shimanski and his assistant, Rebecca Lowden, are the reasons why I had such an incredible experience working and learning at the state capitol,” Kutz said. “I really enjoyed all of my time there.”

For his second internship, Kutz chose the San Lucas Mission in Guatemala, where he had visited twice before, and had a general knowledge of how the programs have helped the people.

Months before deciding the internship was something that he wanted to do, Kutz contacted Fr. Greg Schaffer, pastor and program director of the mission since 1962.

“Fr. Greg is an inspirational and knowledgeable individual on the importance of non-profits, especially the San Lucas Mission,” Kutz said.

Through the mission’s nonprofit organization, parish programs have addressed the needs for housing, health care, nutrition, education, and land for the Mayan people.

Kutz was able to witness firsthand how the initiatives in education started by the parish in 1962, have increased the literacy rate, once around 2.5 percent when the parish school began, to more than 85 percent.

For the youth of San Lucas interested in pursuing post-secondary schooling, the parish provides annual scholarships, and for others, there are apprenticeship programs through which students gain training in other fields.

Many of today’s Mayan teachers, doctors, engineers, and lawyers in San Lucas have been educated in the parish’s programs.

As part of Kutz’s internship at San Lucas in July, he created a Facebook page for the mission which allows anyone to update information on the different fundraising events to benefit San Lucas, share experiences of their time at the mission, and post updates about the mission.

“I was truly inspired with the San Lucas Mission, and hope someday I will be able to work with them more, either at the mission itself or from here in the states,” Kutz said.

“I would like to take on a more responsible role in making sure that others have the opportunity to meet the wonderful people of San Lucas and to see the efforts being done there.”

While attending MSU, Kutz is currently working at FedEx Ground in Mankato as an outbound service manager.

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