Business relationship blossoms with student internship
Ayesha Sahigara knows firsthand the power of connections in landing a plum job.
She was a new graduate student at the University of Houston-Victoria when the School of Business Administration connected her with a business consulting company. That company, Houston-based Corporate US Financial LLC, offered her an internship that led to full-time employment there.
“When I got here as an intern, I wouldn’t have imagined myself in this position where I am today,” said Sahigara, who was promoted earlier this year to the position of senior accountant. She manages clients’ investment portfolios.
“I am happy with what I am doing,” she said. “That is the best part.”
US Financial CEO Umit Pecen said he is pleased with her work and hopes to hire more UHV students and graduates as interns and full-time employees in the future. The university does well at teaching and preparing students working toward their Master of Business Administration degrees and is an ideal resource for matching his company with qualified job candidates, he said.
“Faculty members are a good source of references because they already know the students,” he said.
UHV’s business school shares Pecen’s interest in growing the university’s relationship with his company as well as forming other similar partnerships, said Jifu Wang, professor and associate dean of external relations and international programs.
“Our business school thinks the internship is an important link between education and the real business world, so we work hard to help students locate these opportunities and find a good match with a company,” he said. “We also want companies to contact us with their needs so that we can introduce them to students we think will do well there.”
Internships are an especially helpful connection for international students, said Sahigara, a 30-year-old native of India. She knew few people in the U.S. when she moved to the Houston area with her husband years ago. So after enrolling in the UHV MBA program, she quickly inquired with the school about internship possibilities. A school administrator put her in touch with US Financial, and the doors of opportunity began to open for Sahigara.
US Financial CEO Umit Pecen, who was born in Turkey, noticed Sahigara’s prior accounting experience in India and liked that she was at UHV learning how to do accounting in the U.S.
“I could see that for her, adaptation would be easy,” Pecen said.
Sahigara worked 20 hours a week at the company for four months during her first semester at UHV while receiving three credit hours toward her degree. For the next 18 months leading up to the time she graduated, she continued to invest that amount of time each week at the company but solely on a volunteer basis to continue learning and to keep her skills current with accounting regulations and technology.
Pecen then made a second decision about Sahigara and hired her more permanently.
“When I consider hiring interns, I look at whether we are helping them or they are helping us,” he said. “I could see that in the first month, we were helping her. But then, she started helping my company, so this was a very good investment.”
Likewise, Sahigara views her unpaid internship as a solid investment.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for that internship because as an international student, it’s very hard to have connections to companies,” Sahigara said. “Without the internship, it would have been challenging to find a job after graduating.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.
Staci Semrad, Special to UHV