|Local Students, Local Internships|
|Students donít need to travel far to find challenging internship opportunities during the academic year.|
Students don’t need to travel far to find challenging internship opportunities during the academic year. Companies like Kendal at Ithaca have come to rely on the performance of School of Business interns.
And when a successful internship is over, said Ann Wall, chief financial officer at Kendal, “interns can count on references for future jobs and/or graduate school.”
Kendal’s most recent intern, Julius Vainauskas ’12, was assigned to list all of Kendal’s investments at various financial institutions in an Excel format consistent with New York State Department of Insurance requirements. The department regulates Kendal, a continuing care retirement community with 212 independent living units, about three miles north of campus. Vainauskas categorized more than $25 million of investments.
“When it was time for me to include this information with the full report for New York State, I was very pleased to find that all the investment data matched the general ledger to the dollar and I had no extra work to pull the final report together,” said Wall.
“Since we are in an industry where there are nearly a dozen year-end reports to prepare, each asking for the same financial data in a dozen different formats, it is immensely helpful to have an intern assisting with perfection.”
For more than five years, the CPA firm Sciarabba Walker in downtown Ithaca has used two to four students during tax season. The students work a flexible schedule – between 20 and 24 hours a week from Feb. 1 through April 15 – preparing individual, partnership, and corporate tax returns.
“We find the IC students very focused on obtaining real-life skills,” said David Iles of Sciarabba Walker. “They enjoy not only learning how to apply the accounting technical knowledge they’ve obtained at IC to real-life situations, but they also enjoy learning how our office operates.”
At Fingerlakes Wealth Management, also north of downtown, students gain hands-on experience in portfolio management. They work with asset allocation, analysis of holdings, Morningstar reporting for client reviews, financial planning, research and investment strategies, and risk management.
“I am very impressed with the work ethic and motivation of Ithaca College’s business students,” said Susan McCormick. “They come well prepared and motivated to implement their skills and to learn new skills. The students roll up their sleeves and work on any and all tasks that are requested.”
This spring four interns worked on implementing an additional portfolio review system. Among them, Aaron Heltsley ’12 created a portfolio optimization analysis, and Alissa Mirchuk ’11 created a model portfolio based on risk analysis, said McCormick.
Interns assist the Kendal Finance Department staff of five in key areas such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, general ledger, and projects relating to investments, fixed assets, audit and cost report work papers, donations, payroll, and Medicare and commercial insurance billing.
With a $17 million budget and much state regulation, “having a motivated, interested, and smart intern is one of the keys to the success of our Finance Department,” said Wall.
“I think it's fair to say that our interns walk away with much more knowledge of how Excel can be used in the workplace, not just entering data, but using pivot tables and learning more about manipulating data that can be used to analyze and solve problems.”
Moreover, because Kendal’s is a small office, the intern uses a computer station in Wall’s office. This provides additional learning opportunities.
Her interns, said Wall, have listened to discussions among chief financial officers, investment bankers, actuaries, and lawyers that have ranged from terminating an interest rate swap agreement to budgeting for health care, from understanding the challenge of funding a pension plan to amortizing entrance fee revenue.
Wall and McCormick agree on the traits the best interns possess: being part of a team and able to work independently, taking instruction positively, and knowing when to ask questions. “They need to treat the internship as a job, to be reliable, and to demonstrate initiative,” said Wall. “Our most successful interns also have a good sense of humor.”