A Proud Partnership: How CSI and Agilant Change Student Futures Through Internships

Agilant Solutions, Inc

The working world can be an intimidating place for students. While college helps prepare students for the life they live outside its walls, it can only do so much. It is crucial students gain meaningful work and there is no better way to gain this exposure than with internships.

Unfortunately, not all students have the luxury of work placement. Although many students work during school, not everyone is lucky enough to do so in their field of study. Instead, students often end up working at restaurants or in the retail area part-time while attending school. A true internship is an opportunity to gain relevant, workplace-related experience to showcase to future prospective employers. Those who get internships gain an experiential advantage over their peers.

Students who get internships gain an experiential advantage over their peers.

At the School of Business - College of Staten Island (CSI), where I teach marketing courses, we have a program called Business 598 - Internship Class. This class is capped at 15 high-achieving students who receive four credits for a work placement. Students must invest a minimum of 120 hours over the course of the semester at an approved business establishment.


In the Business 598 class, students not only complete the required hours of an internship, they also attend my class and submit a detailed journal about their internship. Students are evaluated by their internship supervisor with respect to how well they performed their responsibilities. The program is a well-rounded approach to ensure students not only attain meaningful work experience—but that they make the most of this great opportunity.

Building Futures Through Internships

Over the course of the last 10 years, we've worked hard at the School of Business to make our internship program stronger and encourage students to enroll. We do not, however, just throw them into a workplace environment without prior training and discussion. The corporate world is a vastly different workplace than most students have experienced before. In the Business 598 class, I make sure to cover a wide range of topics to best prepare students for their on-the-job training.

The students are taught about dress code and making good first impressions. Unfortunately, I also need to stress simple concepts like putting their phones away during work hours. We want our students to put their best foot forward with every situation they step into. This will help them be successful and also reflects positively on us at CSI.

A large part of the success of our program is seeking out companies that want to take on student interns and will do their best to create a mutually rewarding experience. One of our standout companies is the B2B IT company, Agilant Solutions Inc (ASI). The Agilant marketing department takes one to two students per semester, many of whom are marketing or international students. Marketing at Agilant takes a slightly different approach. Students often don't understand the intricacies of B2B marketing. Agilant is a leading independent provider of IT services, solutions, and technologies. This makes the internship an exciting and amazing learning experience for them.

Internships set a foundation for students to build their success. @ASISystem

A successful internship isn't just about the company—it is also about the people. The supervisor has to be a person who understands the interns are young students who are inexperienced. Patience is therefore needed. Supervisors have to mentor and work with the students, get them acclimated to the business environment, and answer their questions. Thankfully, our Agilant internship champion is Kathleen Riley—the company's director of business development and marketing— who provides an incredible experience for CSI students.


Going into an internship, students are understandably nervous. For many it is the first time in a real workplace environment. Within the first day or two, Ms. Riley makes them feel part of the team.


The students aren't just fetching coffee or scanning documents like you sometimes see happen with internships. Kathleen gets them involved from day one. She will take students to meetings and places them in real-world scenarios so they can truly see the scope of her job.


More than anything else, our students come out of Agilant knowing how to write. Kathleen understands the importance of good writing skills and tries to impart that upon the student interns. After their placement at Agilant, students understand how to write memos, proposals, and strategic plans. With many students developing bad habits because they're texting all day, this is an important life skill to learn.


I have seen only positive responses from students about their internship time at Agilant. Based on journal feedback and final class presentations, students say it's one of the best experiences they've ever had.

The AMA Achievement

 Our students at CSI truly see the benefits of our approach to teaching. We, the faculty, see the results as well. Every year, selected students compete in the American Marketing Association's Collegiate Case Competition. Our marketing team competed in the 2017 finals (8 schools selected over 100 schools participated) in New Orleans last year and was awarded third place. This was a major accomplishment and achievement for the School of Business and the marketing group led by Prof. Zhang. Competition includes Ivy League schools with much bigger departments and budgets who have never made the top eight. CSI has achieved this two years in a row. Our marketing team again was selected as a finalist and will be representing the College in Spring 2018 in New Orleans. This is further validation that the work we have done at CSI matters.


The feedback we've received from students both during and after Business 598 Internship class has been astounding. Our partnership with companies like Agilant (Kathleen Riley) means our students not only receive a world-class education, but they graduate college more prepared than ever. I stress to every student in my department that even if they're not part of Business 598, they need to do everything they can to get an internship. The knowledge students gain through internships will not only be about the company they work with, they will also learn and experience company culture, how to act in an office, and how to thrive in any organization. There's a lot students can learn from books, but there's also no replacement for real-world experience. So let's avail them of both and give them a chance to excel.