PSS Spring '09 - The Houghton House Renaissance

From Theory to Practice

HWS students put their education to work


Colleen Richards '12 and Alicia Haynes '10 both
worked for the crohn's & colitis foundation

Colleen Richards '12 and Alicia Haynes '10 both worked for the
Crohn's & Colitis foundation.

Brandi Ferrara, interim director of the Salisbury Center for Career Services, says that even in a tight economy, unique opportunities are still out there and open to students. "The transferable skills developed through a liberal arts education-the flexibility and adaptability of strong skills in writing, communication, leadership and creative and analytic thinking-are always crucial in any industry," she says.

Take for example Colleen Richards '12 and Alicia Haynes '10. In the fall of 2008, Richards, an economics major, was searching for a sports marketing internship for the next summer while Haynes, an international relations major, wanted to work for a non-profit.

When Richard Geswell P'10, P'12, president of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), expressed interest in hosting interns from the Colleges, these two William Smith students unexpectedly found what they were looking for.

"A lot of students go down the corporate track thinking they need to go to accounting firms or law firms to learn the ropes, but non-profits have a lot to offer," says Geswell.

Richards, who was supported by the Bowman Internship Award for Leadership and Civic Engagement, got experience in both sports and marketing promoting the CFFA Team Challenge, a half marathon endurance training program that raises money to support research for the Foundation.

Working in the public relations and marketing departments, Haynes, who was supported by the L. Thomas Melly '52 L.H.D. '02 Endowed Internship Fund, found her niche organizing events and raising funds for and awareness about the diseases.

"My desire to do the best I can for a cause comes from my service experiences at HWS," says Haynes, a volunteer for Jumpstart, America Reads, Geneva Headstart and Project Eye-to-Eye. And with the "true sense of team spirit" Haynes says she found at CCFA, "I learned more than I expected and felt that I made a difference."

Working at the Team Challenge, was "really like being on a sports team," Richards says. "You had to work with everyone around you in order to succeed. I got a great taste of the industry and that's helping me figure out if this is the career path I want to take."

Ruiwan Xu '11 at the DFS<br />
headquarters in Hong Kong

Ruiwan Xu '11 at the DFS headquarters in Hong Kong

For Geswell, being part of the HWS career network is very rewarding. "It's great to see students experience the work-life of the non-profit sector, to see them have an opportunity to try something they possibly hadn't considered, to see them have an interest in making it a career."

Michael Barlow '11 used his majors in political science and economics to land an internship with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Tempe, Ariz., where he analyzed client portfolios and researched funds and equities-a particularly timely intersection of his academic concentrations. He attended weekly investment seminars and, in his free time, managed his own portfolio and prepared for the Series 7 Financial Certification Exam, the test required to become a licensed financial adviser and equities broker.

Barlow says he was well-prepared for the internship with heightened skills in "self-discipline, time management and, most importantly, teamwork."

Any wariness on the part of students to investigate careers in the financial industry seems to be dissipating. In a recent Forbes article, Sandy Scherzer Gross '85 advises: "If you have the skills and want to work in alternative investments, now is the time to take the plunge."

Interning with one of the world's leading financial management and advisory companies, Merrill Lynch, three Hobart students took Gross's suggestion and dove right in.

One of them, economics major Blake Bonham '10, spent the summer working with the Management Complex Team in Pittsford, N.Y., supported by the L. Thomas Melly '52 L.H.D. '02 Endowed Internship Fund, taking on everything from client accounts and conferences to writing progress reports of surrounding Merrill Lynch branches.

With plans of eventually pursuing a master's degree in business, Bonham first started interning with Merrill Lynch in the fall of 2008.

"The Center for Career Services sent out an e-mail about an internship at the Pittsford office," Bonham says. "They helped me prepare the required documentation and my résumé. That fall, I established a great connection with my boss which led to a job on the management side of the company this summer. I'm learning how to become a financial adviser while working with highly regarded advisers who are mentoring me."

Edward Brennan P'06, P'10, CEO of DFS Galleria, the globe's leading luxury retailer, says that the Career Services Center at HWS is world class.

"In our opinion at DFS, it is one of the best we deal with," he says. "It is important for me and my team that we understand the issues and concerns of today's students. The HWS alumni and parent career network provides this opportunity. For me personally it is rewarding spending time with the next generation of business leaders."

Over the past three years, DFS has hired 12 HWS interns and employees who have worked in locations from Hawaii to Abu Dhabi. This summer, DFS welcomed Sarah Cummings '11, Ruiwan Xu '11 and Brennan's son Marshall Brennan '10 to DFS headquarters in Hong Kong.

An architecture major and economics minor, Xu interned with the Store Development and Planning Group, which is responsible for store interior design planning, project management and visual merchandising of DFS Galleria.

With an assignment at the Sun Plaza Galleria Renovation project, Xu says she enjoyed the intersection of her academic interests, with an exposure to "a new world where business is essential to architecture and design." Her experience was funded by the Ralph A. and Jane M. Pica Endowed Internship Fund.

"This internship opened up a world of new interests, and I got a whole new perspective on the kind of work my dad does," says Marshall Brennan, a media and society major, who concluded a six-week internship with DFS in July. During that time, he moved through many areas of the company, learning selling strategies, product specifics and merchandising tactics to ensure decisions fall under the financial boundaries of the company.

Cummings, who worked with the Client Relationship Management division of DFS, says that her internship helped her learn more about working abroad internationally-her plan after HWS.

"DFS focuses on the international traveler, so I've learned a great deal about marketing to clients and maintaining relations when your clients are frequent travelers," says Cummings, who is pursuing a major of her own design: China in the global economy. In August, to get even more international experience, she participated in the HWS China summer program taught by Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Darrin Magee.

"Interning and traveling in Hong Kong enabled me to broaden my international business experience," says Cummings, who received support from the Charles H. Salisbury, Jr. '63, P'94, L.H.D. '08 Endowed Internship Fund.

Edward Brennan says he is continually "impressed with the quality of HWS students. Years ago we focused on colleges with business programs but found the students lacked the strategic thinking and entrepreneurial skills we needed. We found the liberal arts program at HWS provides a portfolio of majors that stimulate this type of thinking."

And having enriched their own portfolio of expertise in the business, cultural and academic worlds, Xu, Cummings and Marshall Brennan all agree that their time in Hong Kong was a fantastic experience.

"We made new friends and learned to live in a different culture," says Marshall Brennan. "Doing an internship in a foreign country has made us aware of the opportunities that lie outside of the U.S. and has made for a great growing experience."

A Breadth of Fresh Interests

While the state of the economy may continue to fluctuate, one thing's for sure: business is booming for Ferrara and the staff at the Salisbury Center for Career Services.

"We had more than 4,000 appointments last year," says Ferrara. "And many, many students got internships in a wide range of industries. The variety of internships is exactly indicative of the hallmark of the HWS Pathways Plan-developing career choices and opportunities out of students' varied interests. The support from faculty, staff, parents and alums is integral to our students' success."


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