As students set their minds on summer internships, now is the time for them to learn how to assess and evaluate internship opportunities. There’s nothing worse than spending your summer fetching coffee and filing paperwork. Inroads is one of the most prestigious internship programs in New York City, and there’s no better proof of that than Isaac Rodriguez, an alumnus of the program who eventually became president of the Provident Loan Society of New York.
Inroads is a nonprofit summer internship program that helps identify, mentor and develop kids who typically don’t get a chance in corporate America. The organization’s mission is to place talented underserved youth in business and industry jobs.
“Inroads taught me how to dress, how to shake hands and make eye contact,” Rodriguez says. “I didn’t know any of that. I was just a boy from Queens. But the program really showed me how corporate America works. It gave me the opportunity to meet with individuals from Fortune 500 companies and gave me meaningful contacts. They taught me what no books ever could. And they paid me to be there!”
Although Rodriguez returned every summer to Inroads, he says that there is no guaranteed spot. Students must be invited back by the company and have to reapply every year. After college, Rodriguez spent 25 years as a commercial bank lending officer in New York City, then worked for a regional community bank before being offered the position with Provident Loan.
“I didn’t even apply for the position,” Rodriguez says. “They just saw my experience and my commitment, and offered me the position as president of the company. And that never happens.” The former president of Provident Loan held the job for 56 years.
Rodriguez says he might not have been named to this position had he not been set on the right path by INROADS, which is why he’s so quick to speak so well of the program.
“It’s really all about giving back to the community,” Rodriguez says.
Having been on both sides of the hiring process, Rodriguez says what he looks for in a prospective intern is what he tried to be as an intern himself.
“I look for an individual who listens, has initiative and is polished,” he says. “When I look at a résumé, I look at their personal experience, their GPA and what they got involved in. I want someone who shows leadership qualities and communication skills. Basically, someone who’s going to listen and learn.”