BenU at Mesa students gain career experience through internships, networking, programs and projects

January 26, 2017

Mesa, Ariz. ~ Benedictine University at Mesa students are strengthening their resumes with several new opportunities for professional development and experiential learning.

This past December, BenU at Mesa invited representatives from Edward Jones’ Tempe, Ariz., office to meet with students from a range of majors and invited them to apply for the Edward Jones Operations Co-op Program. Seven students interviewed and were selected for the internship program, which runs from January to the end of March. The positions are paid and will satisfy credit hours toward their majors.

“Edward Jones is one of the top 10 financial companies and really takes the time to invest in their interns,” said Cyndi Laurin, Ph.D., assistant professor of Business Management. “They give students a test drive, and if successful, my guess is most of them will end up with some type of job offer at the end.”

As interns, the students will serve in the firm’s operations division in either the Tax Hotline or Cost Basis departments, providing Edward Jones branch teams with timely and accurate information and account transactions that help fulfill clients’ financial needs.

“Many of our students are first-generation college students and this increases the opportunities they have for employment post-graduation,” said Elizabeth Corrigan, Career Services coordinator for BenU at Mesa. “This also gives them that professional exposure in the financial industry that they need to dream bigger and prepare for more of these types of jobs.”

Nearly two dozen students were given the opportunity to serve as ambassadors at the VerdeXchange Conference held in December in Phoenix.

VerdeXchange is a leadership conference targeting CEOs and leaders of all disciplines covering state, regional, national and global interests focused on economic development, education, health care, technological advancement, political connectivity, sustainability and trade.

“This was a new experience for a lot of our students on how to engage business people — not just entry- or mid-level professionals, but CEOs, mayors and other government officials,” Laurin said. “Even something as simple as introducing yourself, shaking hands and having a conversation can be an effective learning experience in this setting. We talk about this in class, but for them to get to see and experience it at this level is a real value.”

“Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Service Learning” is a new course students can take to gain experiential learning credits at BenU at Mesa. Through a partnership with the Mesa United Way, students in the course participate in training and complete an online IRS exam before volunteering to help local families complete their tax returns.

“To be working with real families in the community and serving their needs is priceless experiential learning,” Corrigan said. “Not only will they gain tax experience, they will get to see how some members of our community live and spend their money. Doing tax returns for people in need will help to open their eyes about a lot of things and may very well spark a career field for them.”

Another course offered this spring, “Strategic Management,” will benefit both students and local businesses adversely impacted by the next 1.9-mile phase of the light rail expansion project in downtown Mesa, the Gilbert Road Extension, which is expected to hamper customer traffic.

Students will form teams and be assigned a business to develop a SWOT analysis, which highlights a business’s current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. At the conclusion of the course, they will present their recommendations to each participating company addressing how they can improve and reach customers during the construction period, which is expected to be completed in late 2018 or early 2019.

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Benedictine University at Mesa is a branch campus of Benedictine University, an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine was named among "America's Top Colleges" for the sixth consecutive year in 2016 by Forbes magazine. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (602) 888-5500, mesa@ben.edu or visit ben.edu/mesa.

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