In the Spotlight: Brenda Onyango '20, Summer '19 Intern at Csg Partners
Most St. Francis students arrive on campus by subway. Brenda Onyango's journey here took her half way around the world.
Brenda is from Nairobi, Kenya. She moved to New York City to enroll in St. Francis in September 2018. A Management major, Brenda's sharpening her business acumen not only through her academic pursuits, but through a summer internship at CSG Partners that provides a unique vantage point into the world of New York City finance. St. Francis College alum Patrick Fallon '71 is CSG Partners' Managing Director.
Brenda recently spoke about her summer gig and how she made her way to St. Francis College.
Tell me about your internship this summer.
I was lucky enough...to get an internship with CSG Partners.
[CSG] is a boutique investment bank in the financial district on Fulton Street. They specialize in employee stock ownership plans. So when a family-owned business is looking for an exit strategy, instead of the traditional merges and acquisitions, they opt to sell the shares to the employees, making everyone part of the business. It helps with worker retention, tax benefits and liquidity instead of profitability.
What exactly do you do there?
My position officially is marketing and finance intern. It's a mix of numbers and marketing.
For now, I'm helping the Head of Marketing, Jordan Burg, develop the website. He has been a good mentor. We're also doing a file migration from the traditional drive to an online hub. And then I'm also learning about a CRM platform.
Is this the career field that you see yourself going into?
Yes, I do. Being a management major, I never really thought I would be involved in finance. But it's more interesting than I expected and I'm learning a lot.
How did you land this internship?
I spoke to Thomas Flood [SFC Vice President for Advancement] and I explained to him that I was looking for an internship. I'd [been] networking all over...So, Mr. Flood saw an opportunity. The company was looking for an intern. He referred me.
I sent my resume and they called me for a [first] interview...And then...they called me [to go to] the financial district for a second interview, where I got to meet with the COO and the CEO. After two weeks they told me I got the internship.
You're from Nairobi, Kenya. How did you find your way to St. Francis College?
I came here [New York City] last April , and somebody mentioned [St. Francis] in passing. When I went back home [to Nairobi] I was thinking about going back to school to get a better education, and I Googled small colleges with good reputations, and St. Francis popped up.
Where I was working, most people have their degrees from outside of Kenya...So I knew if I [wanted] to grow professionally, I had to get good education and America's reputed to have one of the best education systems...I knew [St. Francis] is where I wanted to be.
You achieved a lot in Kenya before arriving at St. Francis, as far as your education and career goes. Tell me about that.
I got an associate's degree in Kenya some years ago. From KCA University.
The last position I had [before enrolling at St. Francis] was a Customer Service Coordinator for a [Kenyan] government agency called the National Construction Authority.
[Before that], I had a café [in Nairobi] for about two years. I was successful...I started small and I expanded with time. I think I'll do that business again. The café business. I enjoyed it so much.
I also had a graphic design business, which I operated for six years [concurrent] to the café. [We made] t-shirts and banners and CD prints and photo albums. I only left when I got something that offered me more income. But my friends, they continued to lead it until last year, so it was in operation for about 10 years.
What will you do when you finish your degree at St. Francis?
So after school I would stay here for three years working and then unless I find an organization that sponsors me staying here, I would definitely go back home, because Africa is growing.