On the Job: Corporate Affiliate Program Gives Rutgers University–Camden Students a Slice of Business Life

By Ed Moorhouse

At the Rutgers School of Business-Camden, students benefit from internship opportunities through the Corporate Affiliate Program.

At the Rutgers School of Business-Camden, students benefit from internship opportunities through the Corporate Affiliate Program.

Many college graduates face a very competitive job market after they earn their degree. Finding a job — and simply landing an interview — can feel like a steep uphill climb.

Rutgers University–Camden’s Corporate Affiliate Program is giving students a leg up.

The program partners numerous local companies from a variety of business fields with the Rutgers School of Business–Camden to place students in internships and to participate in guest lecture and luncheon series on the Rutgers–Camden campus.

It gives students that real-world, outside-the-classroom experience that many employers seek in new hires while also allowing them to network with successful business professionals.

“We know that 60 to 70 percent of first jobs for students come through their internships,” says Jaishankar Ganesh, dean of the Rutgers School of Business–Camden. “We wanted to find a way to place even more students in internships while they are still here in hopes that they translate into a job opportunity. That way, when they are ready to start their careers, they can hit the ground running.”

Christian Zoltowski, a senior finance major who interned at the Morgan Stanley financial services firm last summer, called his experience “priceless.”

“It is crucial for a student to get an internship that relates to their major,” Zoltowski says. “You will not know if you truly like what you’re studying until you get your feet wet with some real-world experience. During an internship, it gives students a chance to apply the theories learned in the classroom to their work. Interning creates an opportunity to network, acquire new skills, and teaches you how to become a team player.”

Emel Kahya, an associate professor of accounting and the academic director of the Rutgers School of Business–Camden’s internship program, says the internship experience is a two-way street. Not only can students apply classroom theory to an internship, as Zoltowski says, the work force setting can help them in their coursework.

“The knowledge they gain helps them comprehend the classroom material better,” Kahya says.

Furthermore, she says, “Students have a hard time finding a job unless they have some work experience, and there are many organizations who don’t want to hire someone who has not had internship experience.”

For Douglas Coleman, a Rutgers–Camden graduate who is a northeast regional executive for the Marsh & McLennan Agency, which serves the risk prevention and insurance needs of middle market companies in the United States, internships are essential for potential employees.

“What we do on a day-to-day basis is very unpredictable and students who intern with us can witness firsthand how you adjust, adapt, and collaborate to find solutions. That’s something you don’t really get in a classroom,” Coleman says.

Coleman, who earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Rutgers–Camden in 2003, says several Rutgers–Camden students have interned at his company within the last several years.

“Rutgers–Camden students are hard workers,” he says. “They are people who take ownership of their work and have the intangibles that you don’t always get in an intern. We really want interns here because we are going to expose them to a career path that they might not have thought about before. We get them involved.”

In addition to placing students in competitive internships, the Corporate Affiliate Program brings speakers — including recent Rutgers–Camden graduates like Coleman — to campus to give guest lectures and connect with students during special programs.

The businesses partnering with Rutgers–Camden under the Corporate Affiliate Program also work with faculty members to help enhance School of Business curricula.

“The Corporate Affiliate Program builds relationships with corporate partners and ensures that our students have internship opportunities available for them, but it also keeps the School of Business’s  finger on the pulse of business today,” says Jaclyn Bradley-McFarlane, coordinator of the Corporate Affiliate Program for Rutgers School of Business–Camden. “The partnerships inform us about what is happening on the ground so that we can incorporate those items into our curricula.”

Kahya adds, “It opens two doors: one for the students, and one for Rutgers–Camden. Once the organizations see how well our students perform, they come to us and they recruit here. I’ve had people from organizations tell me that our students were they best interns they ever had. Each experience gives our students an advantage.”

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