By Jon Reidel
When senior business major Hailey Ronconi landed a summer internship at Fuse Marketing in Burlington, it not only set her up for some needed industry experience, but also offered the potential to yield information for her senior honors thesis: a marketing research report focused on women in snowboarding.
For her thesis, Ronconi hopes to learn from interviews, surveys and focus groups to gain a better understanding of factors that affect female participation in snowboarding and related consumer behavior. “Almost every project on my list for the internship is applicable to my thesis,” she says. “I think there can be a better understanding of how decisions are made relating to the sport for both males and females and how ad campaigns can be targeted to the female market. In knowing these behavioral patterns, the snowboarding industry as a whole can have a better understanding of the potential female market and capture more of it as a result.”
Ronconi, who hopes to work in marketing in the action sports industry after graduation, says she’s also learning valuable marketing strategies and on-the-job skills at Fuse, founded by UVM alumnus Issa Sawabini ’99. “It’s great being exposed to an agency setting, which is something completely new to me, and being able to apply what I have learned in school in an actual business sense.”
Boosting Career Preparation through the Summer Internship Program
Ronconi is among a growing number of students completing summer internships, part of the UVM School of Business Administration’s ramped-up efforts to help all students have at least one internship experience before graduation. Dean Sanjay Sharma, faculty and staff have refocused BSAD’s career preparation process as part of a Career Success Action Plan that includes an internship website.
The impetus behind the plan is based in part on data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers showing that almost 60 percent of employers favor work experience by way of internships, with 63 percent of those who complete internships receiving at least one job offer by graduation. “Business is an applied discipline and employers want to hire students who can connect their academic knowledge with experience to hit the ground running,” says Sharma.
Part of the plan included the hiring of Emily Pendergraft in 2014 as employer relations and outreach administrator to work in collaboration with UVM’s Career Center to improve and increase internship and employment opportunities for business students.
“Currently in the School of Business Administration, about 70 percent of our students complete at least one internship prior to graduation,” says Pendergraft. “While this number is strong, we are hoping to continue in our efforts to increase these metrics and ensure that all of our students have the skills, competencies, and experiences needed to be viable candidates for employers, both here in Vermont and elsewhere.”
Internships vary in responsibility, scope, and focus evidenced by the following six examples of UVM Business School students interning at companies around the country.
Hometown: Newtown, CT
Company: Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (New York, NY)
Job title: Sales Intern
Job duties: Work alongside Gallagher Sales & Underwriting teams as they meet with clients and prospects to gain an understanding of the sales and marketing process; assist in new business and renewal development to learn critical background information within a sales environment; and become familiar with Gallagher sales and service functions.
What you like most about the internship: The environment and people. It’s me and four other interns each paired with a mentor, and mine is absolutely wonderful. She’s been instrumental for me learning as much as I have in the brokerage industry, and I’m only in week five of eight. NYC is amazing, but working with great people also has made it all the more worthwhile.
Future plans: Ideally work in a client based job, but I want to go into corporate finance, sales or investment banking and travel the world, if I can, for my job.
Hometown: LaGrangeville, NY
Company: Fuse Marketing (Burlington, VT)
Job Title: Insights Intern
Job Duties: This internship falls within the Brand Strategy department and involves the consumer insights side of marketing that Fuse delivers. Duties include recruitment for the proprietary youth consumer panel; sourcing research for their digital library; and assisting with research design and helping to conduct focus groups.
What you like most about internship: One of the most exciting parts of this internship is being able to learn valuable skills related to consumer insights in association to action sports – a huge passion of mine. It’s great being exposed to an agency setting – something that is completely new to me – and being able to apply what I have learned in school in an actual business sense.
Future plans: I would love to work in a marketing role in a company in the action sports industry, specifically in board sports if possible. Fuse is a great company to intern with since they are focusing on creating strategies towards connecting brands with youth and young adults through different outlets, including a focus on action sports.
Hometown: Stratham, NH
Company: Logic Supply (South Burlington, VT)
Job title: Software Development Intern
Job duties: I work with business facing and client facing computer systems providing additional enhancements and critical patches to ensure the continued operations of all departments. I recently shipped a module on our ERP that allows the sales team to increase their efficiency when interacting with customers.
What you like most about the internship: The solutions I develop have direct stakeholder impact. I feel like I play a real role within the team, not as if I am just an ‘intern.’ I also highly value the experience of developing software for business application, experience I will need when I pursue a career in related fields. Logic Supply’s open office environment allows me to interact with many departments at any time. This encourages rapid and lean development, and also gives me a lot of autonomy with regard to gathering requirements and implementing a solution.
Future plans: Graduating in 2015 and hopefully working with data and software solutions to increase business effectiveness.
Hometown: Alexander, NY
Company: Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (Burlington, VT)
Job Title: Accounting Intern
Job Duties: Account reconciliation, flux analysis, and audit support.
What I like about the internship: Waterfront location, friendly and accessible staff, phenomenal business model and mission, and good benefits.
Future Plans: Going on to get M.Acc and CPA.
Hometown: Essex Fells, NJ
Company: Adrenaline Lacrosse (San Diego, CA)
Job Title: Marketing Producer
Job Duties: Social media marketing for lacrosse tournaments and recruiting showcases; setting up the “Adrenaline Mobile Experience” before events, and marketing our Adrenaline brand during events; posting blogs of event previews and recaps; writing pro athlete introductions and bios, recent college commitments, etc.; and providing data and statistics for the Adrenaline Annual Report.
What I like most about the internship: What we like to call a “Make your own way” or “pave your own path” kind of company. Meaning that if you are able to bring something to the team/family that no one else has and share it amongst the company, you will succeed. If you are flat on creative ideas and are not able to keep yourself busy and work hard day-in and day-out, you will not be able to grow with the company.
Future plans: Look for full-time opportunities in the greater San Diego area or NYC. Still deciding on which coast is best for me. It may be too early to tell.
Hometown: Troy, VT
Company: KPMG (Boston, MA)
Job title: Audit Associate Intern
Job duties: I work with various engagement teams to analyze client financial statements and their controls over financial reporting. Throughout my internship experience, I’ll provide support to my engagement team and to my assigned clients throughout the audit process, including testing and fieldwork.
What you like most about the internship: I enjoy being able to take what I’ve learned in the classroom and apply it in the real world. Every new engagement team and client assignment brings a new experience, new industry, and new opportunities to learn something new every day. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting involved in as many things as possible in college – you just never know what doors will open as the result of a mutual experience you have with someone.
Future plans: Following the completion of my graduate degree in accounting in 2015, I hope to join KPMG, obtain my CPA, and continue to expand upon my knowledge of the accounting profession.
Jon Reidel is a staff writer for UVM Communications.
*This piece was originally published on UVM Today.