Connecting Interns through Corporate RelationsConnecting Interns through Corporate Relations
When Duane Palmiter of Liberty Mutual searches for new interns, one of the first places he looks is the Ithaca College School of Business.

When Duane Palmiter of Liberty Mutual searches for new interns, one of the first places he looks is the Ithaca College School of Business.

Palmiter, who is manager of the company’s Binghamton, New York, branch, began recruiting at the school in 2007 and has since built a corporate relationship that is already benefiting students.

Alicia Marchant experienced the advantages of this connection when she was offered an internship for the summer before her senior year. After completing the internship in August, she was immediately offered a job.

“The process of finding a job could have been much more strenuous, but now all I have to do is graduate,” Marchant said.

Palmiter said that Marchant’s case isn’t unique. On average, many college students are offered a job at the end of their internship and the qualities recruiters look for in interns are the same as potential employees or sales representatives.

For this reason, according to Marchant, the interning process is extremely hands-on and offers plenty of opportunities for students to work independently and gain experience in the business world. Palmiter explains the process as a mentoring system where interns are able to team up with current sales representatives, accompany them in meetings, and establish a relationship where they can learn and grow.

“They act as assistants to the sales representative,” Palmiter said. “It’s a situation where they can feel each other out. The hope is that when we hire an intern we will be able to offer them a job in the future.”

Based her experience, Marchant said companies like Liberty Mutual are increasingly recognizing the importance of the interning process.

“Corporations are putting more energy into their interns now than they have ever before,” she said. “They know that these are the people who are going to stick with them and know the most about the company from the very beginning.”

Marchant said this makes connections between corporations and a college increasingly important. Once it is established that students from a certain school are quality interns and employees, the company will keep coming back to that school. The most difficult part for a college is getting its foot in the door. If a school already has established such a relationship, then its students have a clear advantage.

“It’s about building a relationship and building contacts with people,” Marchant said. “The business school [at Ithaca College] has done a great job of setting up internships and maintaining a dialogue with Liberty Mutual.”

Currently Palmiter hires one intern from the business school each year, but he hopes to expand relations in the future by making Ithaca College a target school. Target schools receive direct financial support from Liberty Mutual and are integrated into the corporate structure.

“We’re a Fortune 500 company, and we’re growing,” Palmiter said. “Our involvement with the business school provides clear opportunities for its students.”


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