This summer the Independence Square just outside of Kansas City, Missouri, was home once again to another talented group of young Graceland professionals through the McClain Enterprises Internships. This was the ninth consecutive year for the highly rewarding internships developed through Kenneth B. McClain ’79, previous Graceland University Board of Trustees Chair. The McClain internships accept 10-15 students each year through a competitive spring application process. C.H. Sandage School of Business Professor Jeff McElroy makes sure that all his students know about the internship opportunity, but it is open to all students, and international students are encouraged to apply.
This intern program is not “get some coffee and that’s all your job for the day” experience. Each summer, the diverse group of interns develops business plans and earns hands-on business skills through producing events. There were three main projects for the summer, and one of them had a long-awaited breakthrough. Polly’s Pop, a local Independence soda pop product from 1923 until 1967 was finally served again on the square this summer!
Projects such as restarting Polly’s Pop are incredibly rewarding for the young professionals. Transferring the textbook knowledge to the “real world” and making the best possible use of it is every student’s dream. Some events included organizing and hosting the annual Up Dog Hot Dog Eating Contest (all proceeds went to Big Brothers Big Sisters), facilitating the traditional Arts and Wine Walk, working at a bicycle race and at a movie premiere. Probably the interns’ favorite was hosting the “Moonlight Movies” – a free movie showing each Thursday (10 movies throughout the summer), where more than 500 locals show up each night!
McClain provides the interns with housing, transportation and a stipend, along with some other great perks like tickets to Royals games and barbeques at the McClain lake house. The internship includes a book-reading party as well, where discussions occur each year on Richard Bach’s novel Illusions. The internship is a real-life business opportunity that becomes a significant part of the “Graceland Experience” for the students. McClain mentors Graceland students while changing the face of the Independence Square. Producing events and giving back to the community make the work worthwhile. McClain knows that internships provide the practical experience that prepares students for success after graduation.