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USF opens first student-run financial services center

USF FCU Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Clark (left), FCU President Richard Skaggs (fifth from left), Dean of Muma College of Business Moez Limayem (middle), USF President Judy Genshaft (fifth from right) and FCU interns were present for Monday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Marshall Student Center branch.

After a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, the USF Federal Credit Union (FCU) will begin a new era of student-run services for the branch located in the Marshall Student Center. 

These services will be provided as part of an internship program agreed upon by the FCU and the Muma College of Business. 

“Today, when you think about it, is a great historical day … our vision is to have the very first student-managed branch in the nation and probably even in the world,” Muma Dean Moez Limayem said at the event. “Of course, we will go through steps, we will make sure that our bright students are very well-trained before they can take over, and also will make sure that all the regulations are met. But that’s really our vision.” 

According to a 2010 article from US News and World Report, internships and real world experience are major aspects employers look for after graduation. The article cites PricewaterhouseCoopers, an accounting company that took 70 percent of its new employees directly out of its internship program, as an example.

FCU President Rick Skaggs said the goal of the program is to offer internships that “would prepare (students) for full-time work when they graduate.”

According to Skaggs, the program originally looked for only five interns, but ended with six based on strength of applications. 

The interns, all sophomores, are the first cohort brought into the program. Their majors mainly reflect their business backgrounds, with focuses in accounting, finance and management. The goal of the program is to move this first cohort through more advanced aspects of the FCU, allowing them to teach the next cohorts after them. 

Steven Brock, the talent development manager for the program, is tasked with training this year’s new interns. He said the program has had to be flexible with student schedules and life beyond the internship. 

“We originally thought we were going to be able to train all of the interns during the course of a normal business week — we thought that, but, OK, we’re going to have to bring them in on Saturdays … after rethinking that, we’re going to do both Saturdays and during the week,” he said. 

He also said that the students’ average 18-20 hours a week at the MSC branch had to fit around their class schedule. 

The interns said they also are dealing with the challenges of joining a program in its first year, although many said they enjoy the experience. 

“It’s nice because since we’re the first group doing it, we can give (the program) a lot of feedback, and help them shape it to the way that’s helpful as students — to, you know, what you’ve learned, to put hands on, and work around being a student also,” said Catherine Casingal, an intern majoring in accounting. 

“I think the fact that this is the first year the program is happening is incredible,” said Tristen Utterback, an intern majoring in international business with finance. “It’s like everyone is kind of experiencing this together and that also makes it very special, and we’re all trying to figure things out together.”

Omar Hasan, an accounting intern, said he values the training process so far.

“I feel like we have a great leadership together,” he said. “They’re really there to help us, and to help us achieve, and to make this program a great success. Any questions you ever have, 24/7, someone will answer your phone call.”

Mark Smyslov, a current intern, moved from Russia to study at USF. He said his experience at USF has helped him overcome homesickness and become involved with leadership. As a finance major, he said he expects to work in business. 

“The university gave me so much and I’ve met so many people that have helped me,” he said.

All interns will be paid during their three-year commitment to the FCU. Limayem added that the internship should also apply as a one-time 3-credit course.

“It was billed to us kind of like they were the cream-of-the-crop from the Muma College of Business,” Brock said. “That has been the case so far. I anticipate learning from them, actually.”