Stevens Internships: Each One, a Unique Journey

1/30/2012

Every college student has heard of the importance of internships: gaining real-world experience, making valuable professional contacts, putting into practice what you’re studying, all in the hopes of standing out to future employers and landing a dream job at graduation. While all of that is true, students rarely are told that internships can also be exciting and fun, and that the development and growth isn’t only professional – it's personal, too.

Stevens is extremely successful in connecting students to summer internships with many of the world's leading companies. The Office of Career Development has relationships with hundreds of companies that recruit Stevens students precisely because of their track record at helping companies achieve their corporate goals.

Daniel Schaffer completed his first internship after his freshman year at Stevens. A Computer Science major set to graduate in 2014, he attended a career fair hosted by the Office of Career Development with the intention of securing an opportunity with an investment bank working in technology. He approached the representative from UBS and during the conversation mentioned his background in creating applications for iPhones. Though UBS typically doesn’t take interns earlier than students in their junior year, they hired Schaffer, who became their youngest intern ever.

“I work hard but I also got a bit lucky with my background,” Schaffer said. “It’s hot right now – everyone wants iPhone apps.”

UBS was no exception. While there, Schaffer was one of the only interns to have very specific tasks for the summer. He wrote several iPhone apps for them, including a Mobile Directory of the entire organization that he was able to demo in front of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Information Officer (CIO), two of the top executives in the company.

“At the end of the summer, there was an intern commencement ceremony, and about 1,000 interns from around the country were gathered together via conference,” Schaffer said. “When the CIO spoke, she called me out directly to thank me for my help with the app project and said publicly that she hopes I’ll come back and work for them again. It was such a great experience!”

Needless to say, when UBS offered Schaffer an internship for this coming summer, he jumped at the chance.

Some internships develop even further and eventually become full-time career opportunities.

“I’ve been working at the Macquarie Group for three years,” says Alex Hieronymi. “I started as an intern the summer after freshman year, stayed on part-time during the school years and went back full-time in the summers. Now they’ve offered me a job, so I will join the company as a full-time employee after graduation.”

Hieronymi, a Cybersecurity major who will graduate in May this year, originally found out about this opportunity through the Cooperative Education program. His first internship required him to work on a website that calculated financial predictions, and the project was still going when the summer ended. They asked him to stay on to complete the project, and he has been part of Macquarie ever since.

“I’ve worked on two teams: the Desktop Support Team and the Service, Design & Development Team,” Hieronymi said. “I’ve traveled to Boston, Philladelphia and Miami, helping to fix problems and integrate desktops.”

What he’s accomplished has paid off, and in May, Hieronymi will continue to be a key member of the teams he works with. He credits his Cybersecurity background with allowing him to take everything a step further by keeping security in mind during his day-to-day tasks.

Sara Pacella, a Mechanical Engineering major who will also graduate in 2012, had a different experience during her internship at Hamilton Sundstrand. Though she values what she learned while there, it helped to validate what she really wants to do after graduation.

“I worked in mergers & acquisitions doing research on potential companies, their products, potential synergies and what contracts were already in place,” she said. “It was a very positive experience but more on the business side. I definitely want a career where I can use my Mechanical Engineering background.”

She was introduced to this opportunity by a colleague at her part-time job who connected her with a Stevens alum employed by Hamilton Sundstrand. Pacella values networking and does take away some additional lessons from her internship experience.

“There was a lot of teamwork and meetings in my group. I got to work on projects that were very meaningful to the organization. It was really interesting to witness firsthand how people in the real world work on teams and come together to get a job done.”

Sometimes internships allow students to fuse together more than one interest. For senior Kelsey Reynolds, her experience at Integra LifeSciences did just that.

“I am very interested in Marketing, but also Science. That’s why I love the Business & Technology program at Stevens – I get the best of both worlds!” Reynolds said.

She discovered the internship at Integra while looking for marketing/business opportunities in the medical devices and pharmaceutical industries. During the interview process, she was asked to put together a thorough business analysis and present it, and she credits the business and research background she’s received in Dr. George Calhoun’s classes with helping her land the job.

Working in the Orthobiologics department, Reynolds said she learned a lot about the company’s products, what marketing claims were being made, how to investigate competitors and how to help the sales force. She was able to use her business education in this role and liked that she was exposed to all aspects of the process – she said she felt like much more than an intern.

This internship, which she completed in the summer of 2011, led to her current internship, where she’s working with a small start-up medical devices firm on investor presentations and website development. Reynolds isn’t sure where she’ll be after graduation this May but is investigating opportunities with both Integra and her current firm.

“What I do know is that I want to stay in the medical devices industry, hopefully becoming a product manager,” Reynolds says. “I really love promoting and growing product offerings in the healthcare industry.”

Every internship experience is different, but each holds its own value and lessons. Whether it’s helping to secure a full-time job down the road, emphasizing what you really love (or reminding you what you don’t!), or just adding another key work experience to a resume, internships help students learn and grow… and many times enjoy themselves in the process.