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  March 17, 2003

Stamford Campus Career Center Offers
Wealth Of Internship Opportunities

Each week, Anthony Trudo leaves the UConn-Stamford campus for several hours - to continue his studies in finance. Trudo, a senior majoring in finance, is interning this semester at a Stamford financial information research company called FactSet. He's one of hundreds of students at the campus getting real-world experience in their field through the campus's Career Center.

Image: Maria Ouckama and Anthony Trudo

Anthony Trudo, an intern at FactSet Research Systems, speaks with his supervisor, Maria Ouckama.

Photo by Peter Morenus

From freshmen to seniors, students can get help from the center in devising resumes, sharpening interviewing skills, and choosing among hundreds of jobs and internships posted each year. Now in its 10th year, the center places students in credit and non-credit positions; hosts job fairs for students and alumni; lists part-time and full-time jobs; and posts information and jobs on its website.

"It's pretty rare that we are not able to find something for someone,'' says Halina Hollyway, coordinator of the Career Center.

The urban campus, which awards degrees in eight fields of study, has about 1,000 undergraduates and 500 graduate students, including traditional students and older students who are changing careers. Because of its diverse population and urban location near Manhattan, the campus attracts the eye of many New York, Westchester, and Fairfield County companies.

More than 800 employers post jobs at the center, and 400 list internships as well, she says, with the amount growing every year.

Similar assistance in locating internships is offered to students through the Career Services department at the Storrs campus. A new publication, the Internship/Co-op Guidebook, a guide to locating and successfully completing an internship experience, is also available.

Real-World Experience
Doing an internship gives students practical experience they can put on their resume to help them obtain jobs after college, and helps them decide on fields of study, she says.

"Sometimes students will use internships to see if it is a field they want to go into, or they may use the internship to rule out a field. They get to explore," Hollyway says.

She remembers how much she learned from an internship in the human relations department at Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment in New York when she was a student. The company was helping develop MTV and Nickelodeon at the time.

UConn students in their junior or senior year can take up to six credits of internships. To earn one credit, the student has to work 38 hours. Six-credit internships consist of 228 hours of work, but no more than 20 hours a week. Seventy-five percent of the grade for the internship is based on the company's evaluation of the student's work and 25 percent is based on a paper the student writes about the experience.

Ingi Soliman was completing her major in child psychology in 2000, when she applied for an internship for the child psychiatry department at Columbia University, which was testing diagnostic techniques through the Stamford school system.

Soliman earned six credits conducting interviews with students and their parents in their Stamford homes and typing the results into a laptop computer, in an effort to help schools diagnose mental illness.

After she had interned for two semesters, Columbia hired her permanently and promoted her to supervisor of the program.

"It was an opportunity most people never get. It's been an asset to me everywhere I go," says Soliman, who is now earning a master's degree in clinical psychology at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan.

She says the internship helped clarify what she did and did not want to do.

"It made me more interested in the field in general and less interested in this type of field research," she says. "You really learn how repetitive research is."

Although many internships are locally based at Stamford businesses or government and public agencies, the center receives postings from throughout the state, and from Westchester and New York City. Some of the companies seeking interns include Purdue Pharma, Yale Child Study, CBS, UBS Painewebber, the Greenwich Arts Council, and the World Affairs Forum.

Students can propose their own internships if they see a job posting not listed by the career center. Hollyway then negotiates with the company.

Organizations posting for-credit internships have to meet certain criteria. Interns have to be engaged in substantive duties, equal to those of an entry-level employee. The organization also must provide mentoring supervision of the students.

"Administrative tasks can not be the bulk of the work,'' Hollyway says.

If the job listing doesn't meet those criteria, the company can post it as a non-credit internship or part-time job.

Two-Way Benefits
FactSet Research Systems in Stamford, where Trudo is interning, has been taking on business interns from UConn's Stamford campus for the past three years.

Maria Ouckama, a manager of global economic data for the financial information company, says the interns have been a great help to the company. "The interns at our company are integral to our group," she says. "Our interns have been responsible for checking the quality of the data, researching it, and working with the data team to resolve errors. Our interns have also been involved in projects that have improved our products or have allowed us to assess whether pursuing a new project is cost-effective and beneficial. The interns have also allowed us to reallocate our resources to where we need them by providing assistance to our product teams."

She says the students benefit by applying what they've learned in class to the projects they work on in the office.

"Working at FactSet provides them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be exposed to both the buy side and sell side of the investment industry,'' Ouckama says. "They gain an understanding of what drives investment management and what is useful to investment banking. They can see the practical application of the financial ratios they are learning in school."

The company has hired one of its former interns and others have continued to work at the company on a part-time basis.

Trudo says his internship at FactSet taught him valuable financial research techniques, as well as how to work in a team.

"It was very beneficial to learn the various FactSet applications, because many investment bankers, research analysts, and managers utilize these," he says. "My understanding of these applications will be a great asset to me in the future."

Clarifying Expectations
Hollyway says the key to a successful internship is a clear understanding of what the job entails and what the student and the company expect.

She holds a mandatory counseling session before the internship. "If expectations are vague, that's when problems come in," she says.

Hollyway counsels students about career choices at each level of college. Although freshmen and sophomores are not eligible for internships, they can explore career possibilities at the center, practice interviewing skills, or create a resume to pursue part-time or full-time job openings.

"I'm giving them skills not only for a particular job, but down the line,'' she says.

The center will host its second career fair this year on April 3. The fair, at the campus's Rich Concourse, is open to all UConn students and alumni.