Management's LEAP Program Helps UB Students Land Internships



Many students spent this summer working at internships in hope of finding their dream job. Some students returned with job offers, some with valuable work experience, and others gained an expertise in alphabetizing files.

UB's School of Management, through its Learning Experimentally in an Academic Practicum (LEAP) program, placed over 300 students in internships last summer, some of whom have learned more about the business world than any class could teach them.

"There are many good internships and many bad ones ... we try to weed out the bad ones so students can make the most of their opportunity," said Geraldine Kogler, director of the LEAP office since its inception 23 years ago.

"When a company comes to us with a request we get details on what exactly the students will be doing before we post the jobs on our Web site ... we avoid clerical positions and companies that are looking for free help. We want the students to obtain practical and relative work experience," said Kogler.

For some students, unfortunately, "practical" is not always the case. Susan Wendinberg, a 1999 UB alumna, recollects her horrific internship experience with an international accounting firm.

"All I did was file papers and answer phones. I figured that I would be doing some clerical work but I also assumed that since the internship was listed for accounting majors that I would gain some relevant work experience," said Wendinberg.

Wendinberg found her internship on her own through a random search of Internet databases, something she advises against as "they are filled with companies just looking for cheap or free labor."

Kogler suggests students searching for internship opportunities should not jump to the first big-name conglomerate, however, as in internships, "it is substance, not name that matters."

What matters to many students, however, is the monetary factor. Raul Baja, a junior information systems major who interned last semester with HSBC, said he "could never have hoped for a better opportunity."

"My experience was very relevant and something I feel that I can brag about on my resume. ... In addition, I was compensated very well for my job," said Baja.

"I would approximate that over half of the internships in our database are paid positions," said Kogler. "Many companies come back to me and ask, 'why wasn't our position filled?' These companies have to compete for our students ... the students want relevant experience and they want to be paid," said Kogler.

Some students, such as 2000 alumnus Bill Langley, are offered rewards beyond immediate cash.

"After doing an internship with Ingram Micro in 1999, I was offered a good job with them after graduation. I ultimately decided to go on to graduate school and not accept the position, but I took with me a lot of knowledge and valuable experience," said Langley.

"The chances of getting a good job following graduation greatly increases with the completion of a quality internship. ... We have such a variety of companies that are seeking our students both large and small and they almost always tell us that they are more likely to hire someone who has completed a valuable internship," said Kogler.

Joe Kuchera, a 1980 UB alumnus and vice president of human resources at fiber manufacturer Unifrax, warns students that internships are not simply a free ticket into a high-paying job.

"Internships can be a very valuable experience but they are no guarantee of a job offer after completion. ... You get out what you put in," he said.

"Students should become part of the corporate culture. ... The work world is very different from the school world, and when we go out recruiting we look for students that are familiar with corporate culture," said Kuchera. In addition, Kuchera said he looks for "students that are involved in extracurricular activities, have high GPAs and good SAT scores."

Kuchera has used 17 management interns from UB since accepting his position at Unifrax. "I feel that the LEAP office is extremely valuable both to the students and the companies, each has a lot to offer to each other," said Kuchera.