Internships Benefit Students, Alumni, New York Companies
When the Holy Cross Leadership Council of New York (HCLCNY) launched its internship program in the summer of 2000, the goal was threefold: to help students gain work experience and business skills; to raise the College’s profile in the metropolitan business community, and—perhaps, most importantly—to help students establish relationships with a few key alumni and peers who could become the basis of a growing network of contacts.
The program gained momentum with funds raised by the HCLCNY’s annual dinner and with an increase in alumni sponsors, who began to count on the short-term infusion of young staffers in intern positions eager to tackle projects that otherwise might remain on the back burner for lack of time and manpower.
“Beyond giving students exposure to the business community, the internship program provides companies with a pool of liberally educated, highly ethical, thoughtful, hard-working kids,” says HCLCNY Chairman Arthur “Art” Casavant III ’80, P13. The combination of well-rounded intellect and personal integrity has proven a valuable asset to host companies and to their alumni mentors, who take pride in the students’ success.
Former HCLCNY Chairman Larry Doyle ’83 estimates the committee has underwritten close to $1 million in internships since the program’s inception in 2000. This year, as the economic downturn forced companies to scale back their internship programs, the HCLCNY stepped in to cover the costs of keeping the positions open to talented students.
The committee now faces the task of pushing ahead during uncertain economic times, and is seeking new internship sponsors and financial support. “We’ve been able to weather the economic tides because of the tremendous support of alumni,” Casavant adds. “Our challenge now is to continue to expand the program during a time when many firms are downplaying internships.”
Aside from offering jobs, alumni also help by identifying internship opportunities in New York City and the surrounding area and by volunteering to work with students on interviewing skills and résumé preparation.
Doyle says the impact of the program is evident in the letters he receives from former interns who are now on the upward trajectory of their careers. “I’ve saved a few of the letters, because they convey such a passion for what they’re doing,” he says. “It’s clear that the Holy Cross internship was a real difference-maker for them.”
Other HCLCNY members and alumni mentors share their thoughts on the benefits of the program:
Julie Halpin Anderson ’84
The Geppetto Group
Advertising, account management internship
“I work in a highly competitive industry within a highly competitive city, and we have our pick of interns. So, I don’t want someone who’s just taking up space. I want someone who’s going to make a real contribution to our team, and the Holy Cross interns always rise to the occasion. They are impressive and intelligent, with curious minds, a sense of initiative, a strong work ethic, as well as all the personal qualities that enable them to blend in well in a team environment.
All in all, they’re a great reflection on the College. These days, when my colleagues hear the name ‘Holy Cross,’ they associate it with all of those smart, creative, funny kids. It gives me a real sense of pride that these students are representing the school.”
Donna Winn ’76
OFI Private Investments
Financial services, marketing internships
“We depend on our interns every year to put together special competitive market research and analysis projects that we ordinarily wouldn’t be able to do on a regular basis because we’re too busy. Their supervisors always come back to me with great feedback: The students really make a contribution, and their colleagues miss having that extra help after they leave.
We’re a very collegial, informal organization; students come in and feel like regular employees—we certainly heap them with the same amount of work! And they learn that being part of a big office is not as intimidating as you might think.”
Stan Grayson ’72
M. R. Beal
Financial services, investment banking internship
“The thing that has impressed me most is the caliber of the students. They come in knowing very little about finance, but leave with a very good sense of the development side and the execution side of the business.
Very few people are innately born with an understanding of an industry and their potential role in it, so this really is an opportunity for students to glean what it is they like and don’t like about an industry and observe people who are successful at what they do. If you’re a college student, watching the captains of industry and emulating the things they do well is not a bad formula for success.”
Holy Cross interns do well here because they come in with a real sense of themselves, as well as exceptional communication skills and writing skills derived from the liberal arts background. It’s really important for recent graduates, as they enter the job market, to know how to sell the value of a liberal arts education.”
Carolyn Risoli ’86
Fashion, merchandising internship
“We’re still a young company in many ways, so interns get real hands-on experience. They help with sales, merchandising and logistics, and can find themselves doing anything from cutting swatches to filling out sales reports. They usually start just before market in June and get right down to business; I remember one intern who worked right through the weekend during the first week on the job. This year our intern helped us send materials to partners in Asia who didn’t want to come to market because of the H1N1 virus.
Holy Cross students come in with a natural sense of integrity and bring fresh ideas and a young attitude. Everyone benefits from having youthful energy around them.”
Andrew Simons ’03
Chapdelaine & Co.
Financial services, bond brokerage internship
“We really lucked out with Mike [Mike Nagle ’10]; he was there before 7 a.m. every day and worked his tail off. He came in knowing more than I anticipated he would about the markets, and he was eager to learn more. It’s not easy for interns to add value, but he really did: He kept track of where the bonds were trading and how they were pricing, and he got a chance to rotate through the municipal bond desk and corporate bond desk to see how the products traded differently. It was a great summer for everyone involved.”
Devon Broderick Carroll ’01
Chapdelaine & Co.
Financial services, bond brokerage internship
“Our desk was exceptionally busy last year, and we needed an intern to be our eyes and ears and do tasks like ticket entry. Our company has hired interns before, but this was the first year we had someone from Holy Cross, and we can’t say enough about how great the experience was. Our intern, Mike Nagle ’10, fit in really well with our group and came in with the approach of wanting to absorb absolutely everything around him. By the end of the summer, he could have conversed intelligently and confidently with any one of our clients.”
Laura Freeman ’96 is a freelance writer based in Wilbraham, Mass. She writes about a variety of topics, including philanthropy, finance, local business, culture and lifestyle.