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Londonderry high school students learn real world skills at NH companies

Union Leader Correspondent

August 05. 2013 6:56PM
Londonderry High School senior Mikalya D’Urso, 17, is interning at Fidelity Investments over the summer as part of the Academy of Finance program. The program matches high school students with paying internships in the business and financial field while they earn credits toward their high school diploma. (APRIL GUILMET PHOTO)

LONDONDERRY — She still has another year of high school to go, but once this summer ends Mikayla D’Urso should have a good idea what the working world is like.

Since her classes ended in late June the soon-to-be high school senior has had many experiences while working up to 40 hours per week at Fidelity Investments, a Merrimack firm of some 5,400 employees.

“There sure are a lot of cubicles here” were the first thoughts that came to D’Urso’s mind during her first visit to the company’s spacious call center.

“It was an adjustment in the beginning,” she said. “But I’ve learned so much.”

As part of Londonderry High School’s Academy of Finance program, the 17-year-old is experiencing a college-level, paid internship while earning credits toward her high school diploma.

The national internship program has been available to a select group of Londonderry High students since 2000. Toward the end of their sophomore year, students who’ve indicated an interest in the program begin taking an introductory business course. By junior year, they are eligible to apply for local internships.

It’s a highly competitive program, with students required to earn a minimal B average in seven elective business courses, have an overall grade point average of 2.5, submit an application and create a resume.

This summer, seven Londonderry High School interns are out in the working world.

Nicholas Flanders is also working at Fidelity this summer. Stephanie Bosteels is working at Keller Williams-Homes of New Hampshire, Brent Bourque is working at the NH School Health Care Coalition, Alexander Forgues is working at Parkland Medical Center, Dillon McKay is at Enterprise Bank and Jordan Tutt is at Triangle Credit Union.

“The experience gives each one of these students the opportunity to work at an actual company in the areas of accounting, banking and finance,” said Assistant Principal Paul Dutton, who coordinates the program. “They’re learning more about themselves while developing and understanding the skills necessary to compete in the 21st century.”

At Fidelity Investments, there are around 100 interns working onsite this summer, though the majority of them are college students.

But having interns come on board a bit earlier definitely has its advantages according to Jack Johnson, the company’s senior VP, and Regional Site Leader.

“Not only does it help support our future hiring needs, it allows us to continue giving back to the community,” Johnson said Monday. “It’s part of our commitment to offering financial education and instilling the financial literacy skills we all need to be successful in life.”

As an Academy of Finance intern, D’Urso’s days are spent assisting her supervisor, Luis Corga, with various projects ranging from Excel spreadsheets to analytics to a recent floor inventory.

She has her own cubicle and computer to work on, her cubicle being one of the 749 or so others set up in tidy rows on her floor.

“Mikalya has been an enormous help this summer,” said Corga, who is the company’s VP of Workplace Participant Services.

D’Urso said the experience has definitely strengthened her desire to study business or finance after she graduates high school this spring.

“Fidelity is an ideal place to start my professional career,” she said. “The most surprising about my experience so far is the complexity behind the company.”

“A customer has a very different perspective than a worker,” she added. “I’ve learned that. I’ve also learned what my future might look like.”

It wouldn’t be the first time a former Academy of Finance student scored a permanent position some years later, company officials said.

“A lot of our interns do tend to return our way,” Johnson said. “Some of the past high school interns have interned again while they’re in college. Some have eventually gotten hired here.”

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