Sentry Insurance to open new co-op program for UWSP students

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Stevens Point Sentry Insurance is opening a new Information Technology Co-op program for UWSP students right around the corner from them in summer 2016.

This cutting-edge program will provide at least nine UWSP students pursuing a degree in informational technology with the real-world experience of working at a big company with their full-time employees.

The co-op program comes from Madison. Jim Stitzlein, Sentry Insurance Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, is trying to duplicate the positive results of the program from Madison into Stevens Point.

"We're taking a very successful program in place in Madison and copying it here in Stevens Point," Stitzlein said.

Student employees will create and maintain websites, services and applications. They will receive competitive compensation, great amenities and the potential opportunity to be brought on board right after graduation.

Jeremy Kleifgen, the Director of Application Development Claims IT for Sentry Insurance, said that upon graduation, these selected students will be eligible for full-time employment and will enter the real world with valuable experience under their belts.

"Because you’ve been with Sentry for four years, or multiple years working on projects as a Sentry associate, there is a strong potential for you to not come in as an entry-level associate, but instead, come in at a much higher tier," Kleifgen said.

Tim Krause, the Department Chair and Associate Professor of Computing and New Media Technologies, along with the IT staff agree that this program will put students in prime positions for jobs after graduation.

"We're very confident that it's going to lead to great experience and full-time opportunities once they graduate from the university," Krause said.

Kleifgen said that more than 75 percent of the students that have participated in the past have remained with Sentry.

"We've had excellent luck in finding stellar candidates down in the Madison area," he said.

He added that he hopes to see similar results happen in Stevens Point.

The program is expected to begin operating in summer 2016. Sentry is in the process of renovating a building at 1105 Main Street in downtown Stevens Point.