Latest NIRI interns get to grips with IR
Now in its 12th year, the NIRI-NY Logler 9/11 Internship Program has given the latest crop of potential IROs a taste of the life of a finance professional.
Overseen by NIRI’s New York chapter, the scheme works with registered charities – including Tuesday’s Children and the Silver Shield Foundation – to find paid internships in IR, corporate communications and similar fields for children who lost a parent in the World Trade Center attacks.
Named for Elizabeth Logler, the former vice president of IR at eSpeed who died in New York City on September 11, the program has attracted an ever-increasing number of firms providing placements, and a similarly increasing number of student applications.
‘NIRI and the Logler program in particular do a very nice job of gathering a lot of talented kids from varied backgrounds who are interested in furthering their careers,’ says Jeff Macdonald, senior director of corporate communications at Acorda Therapeutics. The Ardsley, New York-based company is about 20 miles outside New York City proper, but has many employees who either live or were born inside the city limits.
This year, Acorda hired Almo Elhillo, a sophomore studying economics at the University of California, Berkeley, as part of the scheme. For Elhillo it was an opportunity not only to experience IR firsthand, but also to understand how a company works on a larger scale and within the biopharmaceuticals industry.
‘He did a lot of things for us that were very IR-specific but fell outside the basic activities we thought he’d originally be involved with,’ explains Felicia Vonella, Acorda’s director of IR. ‘He was incredible: he has a great turnaround speed and was so interested in the projects we gave him that he’d always go a step further.’
Among Elhillo’s duties were maintaining the consistency of Acorda’s communications, maintaining tracking documents, and editing data into comprehensible and manageable documents for the company’s management. ‘He was very attuned to how our message translated into the investor and analyst communities. He also helped develop reports that gave us real-time information on how specific messages were being received and reported on by the sell side,’ notes Macdonald.
The nature of the job means such a placement could be invaluable for someone considering an IR career, suggests Vonella, as ‘successful IROs should have a deep experience to understand’ their profession.
Service provider theIRapp also welcomed a sophomore student at Ithaca College as an intern through the Logler program this summer. Her application stated that she hoped to gain some experience of marketing at a start-up company in the finance sector and to see whether the IR world was right for her, explains TJ Martinez, marketing & operations manager at theIRapp.
‘She did a range of activities, anything from updating our presentations, research on potential new clients and updating our database of current clients and how they are interacting with their apps or marketing their apps to coming up with strategies for promoting their apps better,’ he says.
theIRapp's intern also sat in on weekly meetings and was given the opportunity to make her own suggestions. ‘From our perspective – and in any business, particularly in our sphere – there’s a lot of work that needs to be done,’ explains Jeff Corbin, CEO at the firm. ‘Some of it’s administrative, but there’s a lot of substantive work. It’s a huge learning opportunity for our interns.’
He adds that several interns return for second or third placements at the company, while others might well be employed should the opportunity arise. ‘People are becoming more aware of the industry and the profession,’ he says. ‘Several colleges might well include a segment on IR in their communications or PR courses.’
Moreover, as there are fewer IR professionals in the world compared with other occupations, such an internship can afford to be more in-depth in nature. ‘To think they can be exposed to something they wouldn’t otherwise know about, it can be kind of eye-opening,’ Corbin adds.
The program is set to continue next year, with NIRI poised to publish details imminently. ‘We mustn’t forget what happened, and we remain resolved to providing assistance and guidance to students who are members of Tuesday’s Children – especially as so many are now approaching college age,’ notes Patrick Tracey, president of NIRI’s New York chapter. ‘The employers – such as BGC Capital, Acquire Media, theIRapp and Acorda Therapeutics – are the real heroes here, having taken on Logler interns this summer.
‘Participating in the program is both a patriotic and charitable thing to do. The NIRI board thanks all those companies that both stepped up and expressed interest in the scheme.’