Helge Center


What is the CAPS Fellows Program?

The CAPS Fellows Program, a signature program of the Institute for Leadership and Service, helps students develop their sense of Calling And Purpose in Society by reimagining the traditional internship to include the following:

  • Communal and individual reflection
  • Professional service and leadership experience
  • Mentorship opportunities

CAPS is a relevant real-world experience, with positions offered in the following locations: 

  • Valparaiso, IN
  • Chicago, IL
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Austin, TX
  • Washington DC
  • Washington state

Each year, 10-20 CAPS Fellows are chosen to participate in this program. CAPS Fellows work with their partner companies for 300 hours within 9-11 weeks in the summer. 

The Institute for Leadership and Service provides CAPS Fellows with the following:

  • A summer stipend to cover expenses
  • An alumni mentor
  • Space for cohort learning

CAPS Fellows are expected to do the following alongside their work at their company:

  • CAPS Fellows blog post
  • A final reflective essay on the internship
  • Facilitated discussions with their cohort

CAPS Fellowships are:

Professionally Relevant 

  • Compatible with, but not always determined by major
  • Meant to expand your horizon of possibilities and gain professional skills
  • Closely tied to colleagues and supervisors
  • Guided by project-based assignments

Socially Engaged –

  • All positions will:
    …………Introduce Fellows to meaningful ways of working in the world
    …………Engaged Fellows in leadership and service
  • CAPS Fellows have multiple opportunities to learn from colleagues and from their alumni mentor about their own pathways to purpose

Rooted in Reflection –

  • Reflection is key to finding and deepening your sense of calling and purpose.
  • CAPS Fellows gain insight into:
    …………How they might best serve others
    …………What a purposeful life could look like after Valpo

CAPS is more than just an internship experience. It’s an opportunity to connect one’s studies and service experiences, and to learn lessons that can guide future success. In order to make these connections, we emphasize the importance of making space for reflection, both in group settings and individually. Reflection helps you pay closer attention to what you’re experiencing and explore what it means for you moving forward – for your life after graduation, your sense of purpose, and how you see yourself working and serving in the world. As a CAPS Fellow, you will be invited to think, write and talk about your internship in a regular way with other Fellows, and to learn from other Fellows’ experiences as well.

Undergraduate students of all majors who are current sophomores, juniors, and seniors with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA (per the official transcript) are welcome to apply.

Students with a cumulative GPA below 3.0 due to extreme circumstances who believe they would be a good candidate for this program may submit a statement explaining their GPA, accompanied by a letter from their academic advisor confirming the extenuating circumstances in question and recommending their application to the program.

Applicants with a cumulative GPA lower than 3.0 according to their official transcript must submit the accompanying documentation described above by the application deadline in order to be considered for the 2023 CAPS Fellows Program.

Please select status according to your year in school and not according to number of credits.

  • Please visit the CAPS Application Page for more detailed application information. Below is a brief overview of the application process.
    • Fill out the online application form.
    • Have a Valpo faculty or staff member fill out the reference form.
    • Send your official transcript to lead.serve@valpo.edu.
    • Submit your resume in PDF form through the online application form.
    • Submit your personal statement in PDF form through the online application form.

    Be sure to include your name and ID number on all documents. Guidelines for the personal statement are provided here and in the application form.

The application deadline for the 2023 CAPS Fellows Program is Tuesday, January 17th, 2023. All application components must be submitted by 8 AM on January 17th, including the reference form from a faculty or staff member, in order to be considered for the CAPS Fellows Program.

Please order an official transcript through DataVU and Credentials Solutions and have it sent directly to lead.serve@valpo.edu, the Institute for Leadership and Service email address. Submit your order in advance of the deadline so that the transcript is received in time. Please check for any student account holds that may prevent you from ordering an official transcript before going through with the order. For more instructions on how to order an official transcript, see the Office of the Registrar’s Transcript Ordering Guide. For specific questions or troubleshooting regarding official transcripts, please contact the Office of the Registrar directly.

Certain student account “holds” will prevent you from submitting an official transcript. If this is the case, you may print an unofficial transcript from DataVU, have it signed by your academic advisor, and submit it in a PDF format to lead.serve@valpo.edu.

Applications require one reference from a Valpo faculty or staff member. You are also welcome to secure an additional references from another Valpo faculty or staff member who can speak to your leadership and service experience and/or add other important information about your candidacy. Send your reference(s) this link to fill out the reference form.

The reference is an important component of your application, so be thoughtful in identifying a faculty or staff member who can attest to your character, skills, and capacity for leadership and service. Be sure to contact your recommender(s) as soon as possible to give them plenty of time to fill out the recommendation form. Please do not have more than 2 faculty/staff submit recommendations on your behalf. References must use the required form and will not be accepted in a different format.

The stipend for the 2023 CAPS Fellows cohort is $3000 each. For any questions regarding finances, travel, or housing, please contact ILAS Program Coordinator, Rachel MacDonald (rachel.macdonald@valpo.edu) or Deb Garbukas (deb.garbukas@valpo.edu).

You can see a full list of past placements here on our website. CAPS continues to grow in the variety of its placement options, and offers internship placements in NW Indiana, Washington, D.C., Chicago, IL, Indianapolis, IN, Austin, TX, and potentially other areas. You have the opportunity on the application form to indicate your interests regarding geographic location, social issues, topical areas, and skills you are interested in developing. CAPS placements are relevant to a broad range of majors, and students will find relevant, meaningful experience no matter where they are placed.

We do not have students seek out or propose individualized internship placements. The CAPS Fellows Program is not a job placement program, but instead a program that seeks out and develops partnerships with placement organizations that can provide meaningful and intensive learning experiences to a variety of students.

After you have submitted all application components, your full application will be reviewed by ILAS staff and the CAPS Fellows Program Advisory Committee, which is comprised of faculty and staff members. (Note: ILAS Staff are not allowed to write recommendations for applicants.)

The Advisory Committee will then select a group of Semi-Finalists for in person interviews with Committee members on Interview Day. (Note: If you know in advance you are not available on this date, please contact Institute staff as soon as possible to provide alternate dates in the event you are selected as a Semi-Finalist.)

The Advisory Committee will identify a group of Finalists, who will then participate in a matching process with placement sites. Finalists will receive a folder of the available placement sites, schedule an individual consultation with ILAS Staff to discuss, and rank their top choices of organizations where they would like to interview. ILAS Staff will assign and coordinate interviews with 2-4 placement sites, either in-person or via Zoom. Both students and placement site will fill out evaluation forms after the interviews, and based on these evaluations, ILAS Staff will match finalists to placements sites to find the best fit. Finalists will then be offered a placement site, and if they accept this placement, they become a CAPS Fellow.

Semi-Finalist interviews with the Advisory Committee will take place on Saturday, February 11th, 2023, and Finalist interviews with placement sites will be in late February. Fellows and their placements will be confirmed by April 6th, 2023.

Applicants who have a conflict and will be unable to come for the Interview Day must contact the Institute for Leadership and Service as soon as possible at lead.serve@valpo.edu to offer dates and times in order to work out an alternate interview time. Having this information in advance will expedite the interview process of scheduling interviews for all Semi-Finalists.

Yes! We are able to conduct interviews via Zoom or Google Meet. If you have times of limited Internet access, the application form will prompt you to let us know so that we can plan ahead to schedule interviews in a timely manner.

Yes, you are welcome to apply again. There is no penalty – or benefit – for repeat applicants. You are also welcome to speak to Institute staff for any feedback on improving your candidacy.

ILAS provides some resources for housing options. Ultimately, CAPS Fellows are responsible for their summer housing. Some Fellows live together, look for opportunities closer to home, or look for family connections in order to mitigate housing costs.

Please email us at lead.serve@valpo.edu, for any questions on this topic.

For the 2023 CAPS Fellows Cohort, travel expenses are not supported as we significantly increased the stipend to help cover these additional costs.

Please contact Deb Garbukas (deb.garbukas@valpo.edu) about this topic with questions.