Whitehead Internship Program Now In Its 20th Year
Andrew Bostick '12 isn't your typical finance intern. The English major spent his last two summers undertaking different sustainable agriculture internships sponsored by the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship. But with his senior year approaching, Bostick decided that he needed some exposure to the business world he would soon be entering. So, last summer, he took an internship at Aberdeen Asset Management, the third largest money manager in the world.
â€œI am a big believer that liberal arts teaches wonderful lessons, but it does not cover the basics of business,” says Bostick, who also recently picked up a second major in economics.“Haverford, like any other small college, teaches disciplines, not vocations. For that reason, I think a business internship is a great training ground because it exposes liberal arts students to the fundaments of [a vocation].”
Bostick's internship was made possible by the Whitehead Internship Program, a program run by the Bi-Co Career Development Office (CDO) to encourage rising Haverford juniors and seniors to engage in summer work related to entrepreneurship, small business, venture capital or finance. Created and funded by entrepreneur Herbert Slotnick '44 in honor of John Whitehead '43, the program not only generously funds summer internships, it also helps to match several students each year with alumni sponsors. (Applicants are also allowed to design or line up their own internship if they so choose.)
â€œThe program is important because it leverages alumni contacts in order to connect liberal arts students to the business world,” says Bostick.“It can be incredibly challenging for a liberal arts student to get his or her foot in the door at big businesses.”
â€œIt's a great experience,” says Liza Jane Bernard, executive director of the CDO and the coordinator of the Whitehead Program.“And it's a win-win situation, because our alumni get to feel more attached to the College and, in return, they get the gift of help from a sharp intern. Everybody's happy.”
The program, which was started in 1992, has grown in both popularity and competitiveness each year. This year's cohort of 16 is the largest yet. In its 20-year history, the Whitehead Internship Program has placed close to 200 students in entrepreneurial or financial work settings, while broadening its scope from simply serving economics students interested in finance to funding other kinds of small business internships, such as those in a theatrical producer's office or at an independent record label. One student, Nick Farina '10, even used his Whitehead stipend to support the launch of his own online financial services company.
MaryAlice Postel '12 is another nontraditional finance intern from this past summer's cohort. The anthropology major used her Whitehead Internship stipend to fund a summer at the Waterford Group, a new investment advisory firm, where she worked in marketing, public relations and social media.
â€œWhat I was most interested in studying and experiencing was whether the culture of a new financial firm and the pressures to grow, make money and succeed within the intense competition of the marketplace, could co-exist or even benefit from principles consistent with the Haverford Honor Code,” she says.“I found a place, the Waterford Group, where it can.”
Matthew Jennings '99, now a program manager for the Construction, Transportation and Industrial Global Business Unit of De Lage Landen, a global provider of leasing, business and consumer finance solutions, doesn't just hire Whitehead Interns; he was one himself during his time at the College.
â€œThe Whitehead Internship experience provided me with the opportunity to see an entirely new world of businessâ€”specifically [that of] corporate development/mergers and acquisitions/strategyâ€”and the vital role that those skills and competencies play in the success of a firm,” says Jennings, who interned for Transport International Pool, a division of GE Capital, in the summer of 1998.“I learned how to apply the critical thinking and analytical skills I was learning at Haverford in practical applications and, more than anything else, I learned the value of asking the question â€˜Why?'”
When Jennings took his job with De Lage Landen and returned to the Philadelphia area in 2005, he felt he was well positioned to sponsor his own interns as a way to repay the program that so influenced his career trajectory.
â€œGiven the significant positive impact that the Whitehead Internship Program has had in my life and career, I felt that it was important to give back and provide other Haverford students with an opportunity similar to mine,” he says.
A common refrain from members of the 2011 internship cohort was that the program gave them“real-world experience” that enhanced their classroom education and helped them make decisions about their future careers, which, according to the CDO's Bernard, is exactly the point.
â€œThe only way to find out whether or not I wanted to work in finance was to actually put myself in that environment,” says Ian Goldberg '12, another of the 2011 interns.“And the Whitehead [Program] provided this opportunity for me.”
Though the current economic climate seems uncertain, that is all the more reason that students should consider careers in entrepreneurship and finance, according to current internship sponsor Jennings.
â€œWhile many professional economic forecasters and economists provide their â€˜clear' views of where the global economy is going and what is â€˜next,' if the last few years has taught us anything, it is [that it is] very hard to predict,” says Jennings.“This means that it is important to be flexible and have a variety of tools in your toolbox. â€¦ As someone once told me, in order to leave the door open to opportunity, you need to know that the door exists.”
Now that he knows that door exists, Andrew Bostick is ready to walk through it. His internship at Aberdeen Asset Management was such a success that the company has hired him to begin full-time in July after his Haverford graduation.