WASHINGTON, D.C. — Across the country in New Haven, Connecticut, there is a remarkable Fortune 1000 company offering business experience to Catholic students from all over America. It is well known for its large-scale global service projects, pro-life and religious freedom initiatives, and its highly rated and profitable insurance policies. This unique business is called the Knights of Columbus.

This past summer, 16 students, including me, interned at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council. Towering over the New Haven skyline, the organization’s 22-story headquarters provided us students with a wide variety of opportunities.

I was so blown away by the fact that it was a Fortune 1000 company. I had no idea that [it] even sold insurance or was involved in any sort of investment behavior whatsoever,” says Jessica Rutkowski, an incoming senior at the University of Ohio who interned for communications.  From fraternity to finance, our diverse group experienced what it was like to work for an organization that is involved in service, investments, lobbying, and above all a Catholic mission to support the church throughout the world.

“My projects included contacting six vendors of infringing merchandise with cease-and-desist letters, communicating with members about the usage of the trademarks of the order, research, and contract review,” explains Nicholas Holmes, an incoming junior at the University of Notre Dame. A political science and history double major with aspirations for law school, Holmes worked for the legal division of Knights. In a field as competitive and intense as law, it is important for young Catholics like Holmes to remain grounded in their faith, which he says was fostered by the organization. “The Catholic mission was often apparent,” he said. “Through my projects, I came in contact with numerous members and learned about their work to serve the church through the order.” The building has a magnificent mosaic-styled chapel that hosts daily Masses.

Ryan Donegan, an economics student at the University of Connecticut, worked in the Knights’ financial side, interning for their investments department. Donegan enjoyed his summer, explaining, “Compared to other jobs I have held, this was the closest thing I have had to a real life career setting, working with other adults in a manner where I was their equal compared to jobs I have had in the past.” All interns, regardless of department, were expected to work in a professional business environment, and in turn were rewarded with excellent pay, as well as travel and apartment stipends. As a Catholic, Donegan was impressed by how the organization managed to be so successful while retaining its Catholic values: “One of the biggest aspects of the investment department is that we can only invest in ethical companies by Catholic standards so any company doing work involving contraceptives or abortion would be a no from us.”

While a good legal team and finances are important to any corporation, the heart of the Knights’ mission and values hinges on the success of its fraternal arm. As an intern in the fraternal department, I was tasked with managing more than a dozen research projects aimed towards bettering the order in faith and brotherhood. From collecting data on spreadsheets, to drafting syntheses, to building distributable presentations, I gained great insight into how faith formation programs are developed and spread across the country. But just as important as the creation of membership programming is promoting such material. Rutkowski worked as a project lead in developing media for the order. What made the internship amazing for her, though, were the values that the entire organization stood for: “I really appreciated that everyone was on the same page in terms of morality and the faith.”

This past summer, the lives and perspectives of 16 college students were changed, as they gained valuable experience in a business unique for its Catholic values. The Knights of Columbus are always looking for ways to involve young people in their ministry. With more than 800 employees, both men and women, the order is eager to expand the opportunities it gives students so they can work in a professional, yet ethical, work environment. They encourage students to visit their internships page at kofc.org.

Deatherage, a 2016 Valley Catholic graduate studying at The Catholic University America, is executive producer of the website Clarifying Catholicism.