News & Events
Why Internships Matter
From left, Jose Martinez, Pedro Peralta and Lerone Bleasdille
One blustery day during the winter 2009 break, three young men – Jose Martinez, Lerone Bleasdille and Pedro Peralta – got ready for the first day of their curriculum-related internships with Goldman Sachs. All three were enrolled in New York City College of Technology’s (City Tech) Computer Systems Technology program, and all three were both nervous and excited.
It wasn’t that the world of work was a stranger to them. Thirty percent of all City Tech students work more than 20 hours per week and others fewer hours while pursuing their studies. But there was something different about these jobs, something that made them an opportunity of a lifetime. Jose, Lerone and Pedro would be working in an area they chose themselves and at Goldman Sachs, a company that was a global leader in the financial field. They knew that this experience could greatly impact their future studies as well as the career choices they had made in the rapidly expanding and increasingly sophisticated information technology field.
Many City Tech students wonder why internships are often a required part of the curriculum in so many fields of study. Following their internship experience, Jose, Lerone and Pedro decided they were going to do something to help answer this question on the minds of so many other students. They co-authored a paper and submitted it to the College’s communications office. This story is drawn from that paper.
“All students ask themselves about their future, where they will be in five or ten years,” says Lerone, former president of the College’s Student Government Association. “Well, an internship can help guide them to an answer. An internship can enormously broaden a student’s view of the work world and his or her understanding of the inner workings of a given business or industry. It’s an opportunity to really get a grasp on the logistics of a student’s chosen career field.”
Jose and Lerone agree that it’s a real plus that City Tech has arranged internships for Computer Systems students. “After all,” says Jose, “you don't really learn the subject until you actually put it into practice. Leading companies such as Goldman Sachs have included City Tech in their internship programs. It’s important that students be ready when these internship opportunities arise and take them very seriously. Making the most out of these opportunities requires that students be well prepared, because top companies select only those who demonstrate a solid work ethic and a determination to make it in a highly competitive environment.”
Pedro notes that “internships give students direction and help them determine the specific kind of work they want to do by providing them first-hand experience. These opportunities also are a great way to network and to learn from professionals who have established themselves in the field. For example, I want to work in information security and my internship taught me that I have to further develop my core skills in computer science before devoting time to security issues. Having the fundamentals is essential to success and my internship helped me identify things I needed to work on.”
All three young men learned that technology is a means to the end of running a successful business. “Most companies don’t offer technology products,” adds Pedro, “so the IT department is never their main focus. But it is a key contributor to a company’s success. Following our internship experiences, Lerone, Jose and I now look at information technology in a totally different way by asking ourselves how it can improve business operations and add value.”
Jose adds that this experience really helped him understand the corporate environment. “Doing so,” he says, “not only means learning the norms and culture of a business, but also being able to confront any challenges that may arise. My internship taught me how to be a good ’technology warrior.’ You'd be surprised to know that Goldman Sachs, for one, takes care of its technology needs on its own, rather then outsourcing the work to third party vendors. In other words, working for Goldman, from the standpoint of technology, is comparable to working for companies like Google and Microsoft.”
Lerone concurs. “More often than not, it seems, Goldman Sachs creates for itself what it doesn’t already have. This is extremely exciting! Interning there, I learned that being able to deal with the unexpected and to inventively adapt to new technologies and use them to solve business problems is critical to success. After all, that's what technology is all about; it’s a tool to help us meet our day-to-day business and personal needs.”
All three young men would love to have another crack at such a rewarding experience and hope to apply one day for full-time positions at Goldman Sachs, since this company offers promising careers for anyone interested in both finance and technology. “Otherwise, says Jose, “I will use the experience I have gained there to explore other horizons.
Jose also is working on a side project, eCommerce4College.com, an online book exchange for college students. “No matter what happens,” he says, “I feel confident that I will move up in my career because Goldman Sachs and the people I worked with there have impacted my life in a positive manner by helping me prepare for an increasingly demanding job market.”
“As an international student,” says Lerone, “I feel that I have to work extra hard so that companies see me as a deserving prospect, especially if they have to sponsor me for a visa or graduate-level education. This is another way in which internships can prove valuable, by informing international students concerning which companies are willing to do this for employees who want to gain invaluable experience in their field.”
As for Pedro, he expects to graduate from City Tech in December 2009. “I’m looking into graduate degree programs in information security. If I’m lucky, I’ll land a good job with a company following my forthcoming graduation and then enroll in a master’s program to further my education. Sometime in the future, I would like to teach at a CUNY college and give back to The University and my community.”