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Arsenal's Internships Open Students' Eyes to Real World

Five young men who recently completed their junior year at St. Mary’s High School spent four to five days at Arsenal Credit Union’s main office in Arnold in late May and early June getting a first-hand look at what it’s like to be a marketing professional or accountant.

Three of the interns – Jake Adler, Matt Jones and Mike Ulsas – learned what each person in the marketing department does and the education, knowledge and skills they need to perform their duties. The trio also received a crash course on marketing, branding and advertising. Other highlights included learning how member/customer surveys are performed, participating in detailed discussions of various marketing initiatives, conducting online marketing research on their own and developing a direct-mail marketing piece as a group project. Their internship was capped with a visit to a local ad agency, The Accel Group.

The two other interns, Tim Kroger and Andrew Nowak, spent much of their week learning what various accounting employees do. They were also taught accounting basics and principles, received an overview of the accounts payable (AP) function, and gained an understanding of what the automated clearing house is and how decisions are made by the credit union to post or reject credit and debit transactions. Financial statements were briefly reviewed as well. As part of their last day, the students participated in Arsenal’s social responsibility efforts by helping make sack lunches for homeless clients of the St. Patrick Center.

All five students learned during their brief stay at Arsenal about financial products and services, how to establish credit and use it wisely, the importance of saving and investing for the future, the history of credit unions, and the differences between credit unions and banks.

 “We enjoyed serving as a host site for these students and assisting them with not only their post-secondary plans, but also helping them become more financially literate while they spent time with us,” said Ken Moser, vice president of Marketing at the credit union.

Having an internship program for students at the high school level, especially during their junior year, is unique; making it a graduation requirement, like St. Mary's, is even more unique. Students earn semester credit toward their Practical Arts requirements. The week is actually part of a broader experiential career internship program that begins during a student’s freshman year and continues through his senior year with another internship that is optional.

“Career Internship Week is designed to provide juniors with real-world work experience in a potential career field and open their eyes to the expectations of the job world,” said Alex DeMatteis, a senior guidance counselor who coordinated the program at St. Mary’s this year. It was developed and launched by Ted Weatherby and Ed Watkins the previous year. “We want to do all we can to help our students graduate with a well-rounded education and mold them as future members of the work force.”

The students are matched with businesses where alumni and friends of St. Mary’s are employed. The private, all-male Catholic high school in south St. Louis began its partnership with Arsenal in 2013 through Moser, a 1980 graduate. Last year, the credit union hosted one accounting intern during a pilot of the program and was able to accommodate more students this year when the need arose due a larger class size. This year, the internships were served the week after final exams.

Arsenal participates in youth mentoring as part of its social responsibility program. 

Caption: Ken Moser (far right), vice president of Marketing, takes a photo with the high school interns.