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Internship helps senior grow her technology, financial knowledge

Justine-Marie Joseph is learning the ins and outs of software development for the financial sector at a local office of Schonfeld Strategic Advisors as part of the Toppel Career Center’s internship program.

Growing up in the twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, Justine-Marie Joseph was forced to decide on a desired career path in high school. Since she liked science, Joseph aspired to become a biomedical engineer. 

But shortly after she took a coding class at the University of Miami, Joseph realized that she was more intrigued by technology than biology. Soon after, she transferred into the computer engineering program with a focus on software. 

After working for the University’s Department of Information Technology, Joseph gathered more experience off campus last summer as an intern for Schonfeld Strategic Advisors, a New York-based investment banking platform, at their Wynwood location. Schonfeld is a mid-size company that is growing quickly and has at least 1,000 employees spread across its offices in Miami, New York, Chicago, California, London, and Shanghai, according to Joseph. 

The senior had such a great experience, she is now continuing to intern part time for the company’s information technology department and hopes to work for them after graduation in May. As part of the Toppel Career Center’sinternship program, Joseph met Schonfeld recruiters at a College of Engineering career fair on campus last spring.

She shared some details about her current and previous internship experience.

What motivated you to get an internship?

It’s pretty well-known that if you want to get a full-time opportunity after you graduate, you’ll need to have an internship and get that experience. I had never worked at a U.S. company outside of the University, so I wanted that experience. I also wanted to gain some work experience in my major, after switching from biomedical engineering during my sophomore year. I officially started computer engineering in the spring of 2021. 

Beyond that, getting an internship can help you explore what people are doing in the industry and what tools they are using. For example, we learn to develop software in classes with code. But there are other things like testing, deploying software, and making it a product—that’s where the internship is invaluable. It helped me to take our team’s ideas to the next step to move from the fundamentals and make them into something conceivable. 

How did you secure this one? 

I met some folks from Schonfeld at the career fair last year, and they talked about how versatile they are in accepting students from different backgrounds. They were very receptive throughout my application process, and my interviews were just days apart. There were three interviews that were very quick, so that stuck out to me. 

Also, within a few weeks I found out if I’d have an internship with them, which was a positive experience. I started in late May 2022 for a 10-week in-person internship on the end-user service team. After the summer, I asked if I could join a team that was doing more software development. They were very accepting and offered me a part-time remote position during the fall semester, which I am currently doing as a member of the “port” team. 

What are you doing for the company? 

Currently, I am doing software testing for microservices for the trading platform. In other words, my team has services that keep logs of what stocks, bonds, or funds were traded, and whether it was a loss or a gain. It helps keep track of investments, and this information can also be put into visuals for managers and clients. 

What types of things are you learning at your internship? 

Some of the most important things I have learned aren’t even technical. It was intimidating at first, but I learned to ask questions and not make assumptions and to embrace the experience because you really get what you put into it. For example, show up to events you don’t have to be there for, so that you can get to know everyone in the office—you never know who you’ll see again. I ended up having a meeting with people I’d met at a coffee chat. 

Skills-wise, I am also now coding in Java, and I had never coded in that programming language before. I had only done C++ at the University of Miami, so I used J unit testing in Java and I had never done that before, so that was—and is—great. 

This internship also helped me develop self-confidence and recognize that maybe everyone isn’t as far ahead as I think they are. I realized that everyone is still learning, and there’s so much I can learn from someone else who has more experience in the field. It has helped me to find out what I wanted to do career-wise and helped confirm my decision to become a software engineer. 

Why Schonfeld? 

Schonfeld offers a huge community you can rely on. Even if you interact with people who aren’t on your team, there are so many different points of view that come to the table. And it’s the most inclusive environment.

When I met with representatives at the career fair, they made a point to say how diverse their staff was and that they were an international firm. It’s hard to find companies willing to work with international students, and it was surprising how open they were with the paperwork. It was a smooth and quick process. And there’s a great company culture that makes people want to come into the office. I have so many mentors in the office, and it feels like a community I really want to be a part of. Ultimately, this made me want to come back because I had such a great experience during the summer. 

How does the internship align with your educational or career goals?  

In the short-term, I would love to work full time for Schonfeld in software development, at least for a couple of years. Because I really like the company. Later on, I would also like to get a M.B.A., because I am interested in program and product management. 

My dream job in the next 10 years would be as a technology program manager—so meeting with people, discussing a plan and a project timeline in the technology area of any company. This internship experience helped me realize that I like interacting with people, but I do also like the technical aspects as well. In a program manager position, I could merge the two.

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