Institute Report, October 2006
By Wendy Lovell
VMI’s economics and business department initiated its internship program several years ago to help its majors gain valuable experience in the workplace. However, the cadets aren’t the only ones who have benefited from the program.
“In seeking opportunities for our cadets, I’ve talked to many alumni who not only are willing to provide internships but also want to return to Post to share their insights on the business world,” said Linda Moreschi, program coordinator. “The response from employers has been really positive, and the alumni who participated have a renewed interest in our department.”
Thanks to funding from a Jackson-Hope Grant, Moreschi staffs the program on a part-time basis, seeking internship opportunities and assisting cadets in the application process.
“Our goal is to place 10 cadets in internships each summer, but in 2006, we facilitated 18,” said Moreschi, who often draws on her background in sales. “Much of my job requires selling alumni and businesses on providing opportunities for our students. VMI loyalty is strong, and I’ve found many alumni who really want to help give them the experience they need to succeed in the future.”
Col. Floyd H. Duncan ’64, professor and head of the economics and business department, sees the internship program as a win for everyone involved. The cadets get valuable experience, employers find their interns hard working and helpful, and the department enjoys the connection to business leaders. In addition, the economics and business department has a successful program to support its efforts to attain accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
Duncan added that successful internships have translated into permanent placements for several graduates who participated in the internship program. Currently no credit is offered, but the department hopes to generate the resources and structure to make it a four-credit program as soon as next summer.
“I tell our students I want them to have a powerful experience but also to make a powerful impression,” said Duncan. “These internships are not only a terrific opportunity for our cadets to gain experience but also for the employers who get to see what they can do firsthand.”
Bob Copty ’70 of Copty & Company, a commercial real estate firm in Roanoke, found that to be the case when he hosted an intern for the first time last summer. Cadet Jake Willis ’07 assisted with the firm’s marketing efforts.
“Jake is a very good worker and a self-starter, and he helped with projects we found hard to accomplish in house,” said Copty. “As an alumnus, I like the idea of being supportive of VMI students. We hear and read so much about U.Va. and VPI kids and the great education they receive; VMI students do measure up, but we don’t get the press. It is one thing to see how well they march but a different experience to have them work with your company.”