Two Kalamazoo College undergraduates are among 39 local college and university students selected to work with Kalamazoo area businesses as part of the summer 2012 Monroe-Brown Internship cohort. Umang Varma ’15 is a marketing IT intern at LKF Marketing in downtown Kalamazoo, and Ashton Galloway ‘13 is an IT intern at BASIC in Portage.
Umang “has been the best thing ever,” says Heather Isch, vice president at LKF Marketing, a full-service advertising agency in downtown Kalamazoo. “He is such a fast learner and a quick thinker. We just love him.” Isch, who oversees day-to-day web project development for the firm, is delighted to have an undergraduate with Umang’s combination of technical skills and social savvy.
These sentiments were expressed repeatedly during a recent site visit by the CCPD. Umang’s coworkers seemed genuinely sad to know that he’d be leaving for Budapest on study abroad at the end of the summer.
During his time at LKF, Umang has contributed to the development of a number of time-sensitive web development projects. His love of debugging code earned him a role in developing the firm’s forthcoming mobile-ready customer management system as well as helping with a searchable photo gallery in a client’s WordPress site.
Ashton Galloway has “loved programming from a young age,” and at his internship with BASIC, a fast-growing Portage-based company offering integrated HR solutions to 9,000 employers nationwide, he is “getting a feel for how software development works in a small company—something you don’t get in a classroom.” Ashton has had the opportunity to do coding on a number of projects this summer, including several interrelated modules of a very large FMLA administration software platform rewrite.
Ashton’s colleagues at BASIC value the technical and soft skills he brings to their work. In addition to his experience with database development, IT Manager Bruce Weston and VP of Operations Kim Shook have appreciated Ashton’s critical thinking skills and ability to work as part of a team. Ashton has participated in project management meetings, rewritten outdated code, and taken initiative to do research on functional coding that has helped inform his work. “This summer has taught me that there’s way more planning going on in developing software than I understood before,” he says.
The Monroe-Brown Internship Program is a collaborative effort between the Monroe-Brown Foundation and Southwest Michigan First. Through a combination of applied career experience and college scholarships, the program provides local college and university students with career-building relationships with area companies, with the goal of retaining the best and brightest college graduates in southwest Michigan.
Employers independently select their interns, using their own hiring methods and criteria. Selected interns work for a minimum of 400 hours during the summer, receiving hourly wages, valuable networking opportunities, and up to $6,000 in scholarship funding.
“These are very competitive internships,” says Joan Hawxhurst, director of the College’s Center for Career and Professional Development. “This year 376 students applied for 43 positions, so local companies have their pick of the best and the brightest. We are thrilled to have two outstanding students representing the College so well this summer.”