It’s hard to imagine a better classroom than the real world.

This fall students in the commercial banking program at Marquette University in Milwaukee will learn about the fundamentals of the business by underwriting and managing a portfolio of small-business loans.

Along with Town Bank in suburban Hartland and the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp., Marquette’s business school has established a revolving loan fund with two goals in mind: teach students how to underwrite and manage business loans and provide working capital to small businesses downtown. The program’s backers hope to broaden students’ perceptions about what a career in banking really means.

“When you think about banking, a lot of times you think about investment banking and Wall-Street-type positions and I don’t know if the local commercial banker has been communicated enough as a career opportunity for kids coming out of college,” said John Hazod, chief financial officer at the $2 billion-asset Town Bank, a subsidiary of Wintrust Financial.

If successful, the partnership could provide a blueprint for developing future commercial banking talent.

Read more in American Banker.