Outside the Classroom

ESTEEM delivers out-of-the-building learning opportunities that channel the University's resources into a hands-on, personal educational experience for each student.  


During the school year, each ESTEEM cohort has several opportunities to leave South Bend as a group. In mid-January, students begin their Spring semester with an all-day trip to Chicago. While in the Windy City, the class visits several startup or early-stage companies, an accelerator or tech co-working space, and closes the day gathering with ESTEEM alumni at the University's facility in the Loop.

Over Spring Break, the entire class travels for a week to Silicon Valley and San Francisco, CA.  While there, students network and hear from many leaders in the Valley, tour several companies, shadow industry leaders in various settings to get a "day-in-the-life" experience, gain first-hand knowledge of the Silicon Valley business culture.

Student Competitions and Events

Throughout their year in ESTEEM, students are able to take advantage of several competitions and and student-run events, including the McCloskey Business Plan Competition (Notre Dame's signature pitch competition -- which, starting in 2018, will be expanded and incorporated into the IDEA Center's "Idea Week") and Startup Weekend, an entirely student-run, one of a kind weekend, where "developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups!"

Additionally, ESTEEM students may be given the opportunity to leave South Bend and attend conferences relevant to their capstone thesis work.  For example, in 2015, six students travelled to Las Vegas to participate in SAP's tech conference, and in 2016, five students attended the Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit.

Lunch & Learns

Another "outside the classroom" experience for students are the regular Lunch & Learns that are an integral part of the ESTEEM student's week.  During each semester, guest speakers are welcomed to the Greenhouse in Innovation Park and have the opportunity to share with students about their industry and career from an innovator or entrepreneurial perspective.  The list is long, but past speakers have included:

  • Dennis Boyle (Partner & Founding Member, IDEO)
  • John Crowley (Chairman & CEO, Amicus Therapeutics)
  • Celeste Ford (Founder & CEO, Stellar Solutions)
  • Randy Glein (Partner, DFJ)
  • Aisling MacRunnels (Chief Marketing Officer, Synack)
  • Jim McVeigh (Founder & CEO, Cyndx)
  • Mick Slattery (President--North America, Avanade)

Field Trips

At least once a semester, each ESTEEM class "gets out of the building" and takes a field trip in the South Bend area.   Here, they see first-hand how a startup or early stage company is working, are exposed to an extremely successful multi-million dollar international business that had its beginnings here in northern Indiana, or have the opportunity to visit a local mixed-use technology campus that houses, among other tenants, an ESTEEM-founded non-profit that "brings together recent graduates with organizations in need of fresh energy, innovative solutions, and creative collaboration."