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Economics and business major Maurice Bennett ’06 (Philadelphia, Pa.) will gain investment banking experience at a major New York City financial firm this summer through a prestigious internship.

Bennett was chosen for a 10-week position by Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), the nation’s premier summer internship program for talented minority students leading to full-time job offers. He will work at a Wall Street firm such as Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, or another major financial firm nearby.

He follows in the footsteps of Isaac Esseku ’05 (Accra, Ghana), a double major in economics & business and computer science, who served an SEO investment banking internship with Deutsche Bank last year and has accepted a full-time position with the company.

As an SEO intern, Bennett will gain exposure to CEOs and top executives of partner firms through the SEO Summer Seminar Series, which provides intensive training before and during the internship. Each intern is supported by an extensive mentoring program and is welcomed into a powerful network comprised of more than 4,000 alumni in 43 states and 30 countries.

Since its inception, SEO’s Career Program has placed more than 3,500 students in internships leading to careers in the most competitive industries worldwide. The program is featured in Princeton Review’s 106 Best Internships in America. More than 80 percent of SEO interns receive job offers from partner firms after their internships.

Michael H. Moskow ’59, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and a member of Lafayette’s Board of Trustees, encouraged the College to connect students with the SEO program. (Each year, Moskow allows Lafayette students to experience the inner workings of the Chicago Fed through the College’s alumni externship program, in which students shadow professionals at their work places for two to five days.)

Bennett discovered the SEO opportunity through Lafayette’s Office of Career Services.

“I just wanted to challenge myself,” says Bennett, a standout linebacker on the football team. “I’ve always wanted to be involved in investment banking, and New York is the financial capital of the world, so why not do it there? Lafayette is one of the best colleges in the country academically – and now with the success of the football team, in athletics also – so you really challenge yourself here. To challenge yourself in the financial world, New York is the place to be.”

For the past two seasons, Bennett has finished second in the Patriot League in tackles, helping lead a team that won the league championship and advanced to the Division I-AA playoffs last fall. He was named to the All-Patriot League First Team. He also has excelled in the classroom, earning placement on the Patriot League Honor Roll after his first two seasons, with placement on this year’s list expected as well.

Last summer, Bennett interned as a management trainee with Cintas Corp., working in the sales and human resources offices. He was asked to continue on a career track with the company, but wanted to explore a different area of the business world, he explains. The internship was coordinated by Inroads, another nonprofit that provides internships to minority students and trains them for professional careers in business and industry.

The Office of Career Services informed him of that opportunity as well, says Bennett, who was among the roughly 70 students who participated in its Finance Day trip to New York in October. Students gained a broader awareness of careers in the financial industry, practiced and improved networking skills, and spoke with alumni and some of their co-workers about full-time and summer employment.

Bennett realized a number of benefits from the event, including insight into specific careers he might pursue.

“Just having the opportunity to ask someone, especially an alumnus, what they do on a day-to-day basis, there was more of a personal connection,” he says.

Football teammate and fellow economics and business major Andrew Brown ’06 (Easton, Pa.) spoke with an alumnus at the event who eventually offered Brown an internship he will serve this summer in asset management with New England Financial, notes Bennett.

Bennett says that coming to Lafayette, he knew the College had high academic standards and was known nationally for its academic excellence. He is pleased with the College and the economics and business department, which he credits with preparing him for the SEO interview and numerous career possibilities.

“I feel that Lafayette has prepared me well,” he says. “The economics and business department focuses on the fundamentals of being a good businessperson, with a lot of groundwork in finance. I think it opens doors to students when they graduate — you can be an economist, you can work on Wall Street, you can be a financial planner, or something else. You’re not pigeonholed into being an accountant, or just working in economics, or just finance. You can do whatever you want. That’s one of the reasons why I chose Lafayette.”

“In the long run, it helps to be a well rounded student,” he adds, “and that doesn’t just go for the economics and business department, but also the writing and other requirements here.”

Donald Chambers, Walter E. Hanson/KPMG Professor of Business and Finance, gave Bennett helpful background for his SEO interview through his Corporate Finance class last semester, and provided interview tips. Other professors in the department who have stood out include assistant professor Sheila Handy and visiting assistant professor Ute Schumacher. Handy’s Financial Theory and Analysis class and Schumacher’s Microeconomics course were very difficult, says Bennett, but coming away with knowledge and good grades boosted his self-confidence.

“I’ve had help along the way from every professor who has taught me,” he notes.

Esseku, who served as a corporate finance analyst for a telecommunications group during his internship at Deutsche Bank last summer, says the economics and business department prepared him well for that experience. He was very strong in corporate finance and accounting in comparison with other analysts in his group, he says.

“That’s not something you could be taught in the time you were trained by the company and SEO,” says Esseku, who also had interviews with Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley after the internship. “The economics and business classes I have taken were very helpful. I’ve loved all of them.”

Categorized in: Academic News