Work Study Pilot


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Lewis & Clark College is teaming up with adidas in a pilot program believed to be the first of its kind in the country at a liberal arts college. It is providing an initial cohort of Work Study students premium pay commensurate with measurable career training and programmatic engagement. Cohort students also will receive training in the entrepreneurial and leadership mindset, have access to entrepreneurial opportunity and leaders, and receive life-skills instruction including productivity/decision-making, networking, and financial literacy.

With this program, Lewis & Clark addresses diversity in entrepreneurship and employment, as well as the thought that access, good internships and venture connections are only for the privileged. This is a joint venture between the Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership and the IT Department.

Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship famously lacks diversity on both the tech start-up and venture capital sides. Lewis & Clark seeks not only to address that but also show students the range of entrepreneurial pursuits: The entrepreneurship and leadership mindset and skillset combined with a liberal arts degree is important for any artisan venture (art, music, food), solo practitioner, social and environmental impact venture, and innovation within a larger organization. Indeed, the skills-based gig economy is entrepreneurship and the future of jobs includes the CEO of You .

Workplace: Although experts agree that diverse groups create dynamic work environments and the most robust solutions, leaders readily acknowledge there is not enough diversity in the workplace and employers wish they had better access to a diverse talent pool. Resumes land in an interview pile for two primary reasons: Prior experience or personal reference. Lewis & Clark students who engage in this Work Study Pilot will have both.

How does it work? Simple. On-the-job training will be coupled with online skills training specifically identified by adidas’ Human Resources as important to the workplace. Work Study students in the pilot technology program will receive an extra $1/per work hour upon achieving Level I training, an additional $2/hour for Level II, and an additional $3/hour for Level III. Each level contains structured on-the-job goals, online training, and participation in entrepreneurship/leadership programming and career counseling. Students will receive supervisory direction and support.

This program deliberately goes beyond simple career readiness or skills training. It combines foundational liberal arts ethos and networking so that a student makes their next life decision out of strength and access. It enables students to recognize and show the connection between the liberal arts classroom and the workplace.

Reaching Lewis & Clark’s low income students correlates with additional diversity as a disproportionate number of its Work Study students are students of color. For some programs, such as ELI , low income is a diversity marker, along with students of color and first generation college students. Its summer 2017 internship class of 86 students is comprised of 60% women and 97% students of color.

To address the dearth of diversity in STEM fields, this pilot will begin in Lewis & Clark’s IT Department.

While the on-the-job training and premium pay are only for Work Study students, the online structure will be available to all students. Further, all students have many of the same opportunities through Lewis & Clark’s Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership coursework and programming which is open to all students. Lewis & Clark’s Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership leverages its position in a world-class, progressive city to bring inspirational and connected leaders on campus for talks, classroom lectures and workshops. This helps students network for collaborative problem solving. An international sportswear company, adidas’ US headquarters is in Portland, OR.

This pilot program commenced in the fall of 2017 and will be continuously evaluated by leadership for effectiveness, expansion, ease of student access/administration, and equity.


FAQ for Work Study Pilot
What exactly is this and why was it developed?

This exciting Lean Startup is our way of demonstrating to our student body and beyond how entrepreneurship can be used to solve a problem. Specifically, we are addressing equity and diversity issues by equipping an initial cohort of students with measurable skills and access. However, this is not simple career readiness for work study students. This highlights the benefits of a liberal arts education, incorporating the networking/context of our Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership, addressing diversity issues, partnering with premier organizations, and leveraging our professional relationships in a world-class and progressive city. 

The focus of this program is not simple attainment of entry level job skills or professionalization of work study jobs. Our goal is to show students and the marketplace that liberal arts students who study the relationship of the individual to society and the marketplace, analyze issues across disciplines and cultures, demonstrate motivation and learn about their strengths can contribute to an organization in a way that elevates everyone. Just as a liberal arts education is a gift for life, entrepreneurship and leadership offers an innovative way to translate these gifts to to a lifetime of contributing best efforts to work and society.

You mean I am getting paid extra for amassing training/skills and attending programming?

Yes. The minimum wage in Multnomah County currently is $11.25 and will rise each year until it is $14.75/hour in 2022. This program’s premium pay is over and above that wage.

Sounds great. What other colleges are doing this?

None. We have found no other liberal arts colleges who are doing anything like this. Some colleges highlight what is learned in work-study jobs, some colleges avail its students to entrepreneurship learning, but no other colleges are paying its federal work study students premium additional pay for a three prong approach that combines on-the-job measurable training, online measurable training and entrepreneurship/leadership/career engagement including networking and context.

Why is this only a pilot?

Lean Start-Up principles teach us that the best way to come up with a solid venture is to simply start — and then pivot and morph as we discover what works and what does not. For this start, we have a department (IT) that is equipped and eager to launch this, the Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership that is helping to execute this, and a corporate partner that asked to be the exclusive sponsor of this. If we waited for everything to be planned and perfect, we would lose at least one year and probably still miss some features and fine tuning that can only be developed through trial and error.

What if this pilot does not work?

Then we will demonstrate to students that stumbling on the way to solving a problem is part of the entrepreneurial learning process. Failure is not fun but often precedes progress. Lack of action rarely achieves greatness.

Why is adidas sponsoring this?

Adidas’ US headquarters is in Portland, OR. They believe this is a worthy investment consistent with their many other diversity initiatives and participate in the Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership Advisory Board to help lead this effort. We agree, appreciate and applaud them.

Who is eligible?

Federal work study students.

Will this negatively impact my financial aid package?


If I am not eligible, how does this help me?

We will give you the list of online training and programming that you can pursue on your own—no pay would be associated with it. Speak to about this and the access afforded to motivated students who pursue this avenue. As well, Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership programming is available to all Lewis & Clark students, regardless of whether they are enrolled in an entrepreneurship class.

 More importantly, you are part of a college community that goes beyond describing the problem - it is addressing it. You are part of a college community that believes family income should not dictate career outcome. You are part of a college community that will attract students and partners who share this belief. We are hoping this is a source of pride, strength and a real life example that being a Pioneer translates beyond the four years to a lifetime of problem solving and innovation.

Are other departments besides IT participating in this?

We want to run this initial cohort first and work out kinks before we invite other departments to join this effort. If this program is successful, we hope other departments will want to join.

I am eligible, what happens when I exhaust my federal work study?

We are using our adidas funding to supplement pay when the IT department exhausts its federal work study funding. No funding will be tracked to any individual student.

I am eligible, how much administrative hassle is there?

We are striving to make this administratively simple, Initially, we will have an administrator work with each student to ensure compliance is straightforward.

It seems like some details are not quite perfect, why?

Progress can be messy. We are comfortable with this because we believe in the principle that it is better for some students to benefit than to wait and have no student benefit. After all, we are Pioneers!

I know how to do some of the training already, do I get credit for it?

It depends. We will have you ask your specific question to the administrator.

I completed some of this training for the IT department before, do I get credit for it?

Probably. We will take each student on a case by case basis.

I went to Center for Entrepreneurship programming last year, do I get credit?

No. But we have an exciting slate of Lunch with a Leader speakers this year !

What is Knack and Portfolium?

In the marketplace, you are valued at what you are best, not the average of your skillset. In addition to what students learn about themselves in the classroom and Lewis & Clark’s quality Career Center testing, cohort students complete Knack ’s simple and innovative testing via mobile phone games. It is another way to show students and employers true strengths that the workplace values. Knack partners with many employers and our students also receive the benefit of that access.

So too, Portfolium is a wonderful vehicle for demonstrating how what is learned in the liberal arts classroom (as well as your work experience) translates to the workplace. Portfolium works with LinkedIn and Handshake and employers can research and reach out to our students. Via uploads and embedded media, students can create their own personal online ePortfolio to present evidence of their skills and competencies.

Both of these organizations are offering their services for this pilot free of charge because they believe in this ground-breaking program.

What if you run out of money?

That is like saying, what if you have sales. This would be a fantastic problem to have. It would mean we have a number of students successfully participating in this program and achieving results. We relish solving that problem!