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June 13, 2011

Spotlight on Steve Olsen

Skills and Experience Make the Difference

When he graduated from St. Francis College in 2011, Steve Olsen didn’t have to spend too much time looking for a job, despite the tough economy. He had set the ground work for his career while he was in his junior year.

“I really didn’t have a job search,” says Olsen. “I got a phone call.”

Olsen was winding up a nine-month internship with Morgan Stanley and was interviewing for a permanent job with the financial services firm when he got that call from J. Crew, where he interned the previous summer. Olsen is now in his second year working for the national retailer as an information technologist.

Olsen credits his experience as a student at St. Francis with helping him find and succeed in the workplace; in particular the internships he applied for and completed with the help of the Career Development Center.

Every student has heard about the benefits of internships when it comes to finding a job and many students complete an internship as part of their college experience. Some students complete two. Olsen worked at three internships during his time at St. Francis.

Olsen’s internship journey began when Dr. Sandy Westcott and Dr. Barbara Edington encouraged Olsen to take the Mentored Project Management Internship course offered by the Department of Management and Information Technology. Westcott and Edington had spent many years working in the world of project management and knew the benefits Olsen would get from mixing in-the-field experience with weekly mentoring sessions at St. Francis. In the summer before his junior year, the mentored internship took him to New York University Law School, where he worked in the Project Management Office. His work enabled him to practice his communications skills and taught him about active listening skills which are critical for gathering and documenting business requirements.

After his mentored internship, he spent the summer before his senior year working in J. Crew’s e-commerce department. He then worked 30 hours a week in the risk management and information security areas at Morgan Stanley. “I had school on Tuesday and Thursday. Then Monday, Wednesday and Friday I’d be working all day,” he said. The internships were paid work, though as Olsen explains: “It wasn’t about the money. It was about the experience.”

After the internship ended, Olsen kept in touch with his co-workers from J. Crew. “You have to keep the relationship going,” he says. The relationships that Olsen formed during his internships are why he’s working there today.

He took responsibility for creating his own opportunities. “No one was going to give me anything,” said Olsen who is the first person in his family to go to college.

He also credits his philosophy classes with giving him an edge. “You have to have the emotional intelligence to observe. I knew that I needed to learn more,” he says. “It was constant reinventing at every internship.”

Olsen is still learning and continuing his personal development; recently he joined Toastmasters International, an organization devoted to developing public speaking and leadership skills for its members.

Since joining J. Crew, Olsen has moved through the company, joining the Information Security Analysis team in January 2012. It’s a sign that he’s continuing to seek opportunities and create new paths for what he hopes will be long career in information technology.

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