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NEW YORK – Municipal Credit Union is launching an enhanced internship program that will reach out to approximately 110 colleges and universities in the tri-state metro New York area. The concept has been in place since late 2004. Now marketing and outreach is being beefed up to make more potential participants aware of the Intelligent Thinking project. The idea enjoys support from top credit union staff including President/CEO William Porter, VP/Human Resources Kim Thompson, and human resources recruiter Daniel Belmonte Belmonte emphasizes the plan provides college credits. In fact, “I believe we may be the only credit union that offers accredited internships,” he says. “We did some research and found there are a few credit unions that offer internships, but they are paid.” Under the accreditation approach, although students aren’t paid they receive academic credit. In addition, they gain skills and experience that can make their resumes stand out when they seek jobs after graduation. The program will be marketed through career services and internship offices at the colleges. College clubs such as those in business and accounting and professional fraternities will also be contacted. On August 18 MSN staged a job fair at the credit union. Intelligent Thinking isn’t restricted to finance majors. Positions are available for students in liberal arts, information systems and natural sciences. Interns may find themselves working in branch operations, the contact center, internal audit, credit operations, business development, human resources and technology. “We need open communication and cooperation from our managers to place students in their departments,” Belmonte says. “When I get a college student in here for an interview, within the interview process I present various areas within the company I see as a good fit for them. “If they tell me they like a particular idea, I call the manager of that department and set up an interview. A lot of students don’t know what a credit union is. My job is to sell the whole package. Then they become interested.” Actually, some departments contact Belmonte to alert him they are looking for interns. Examples are the Elmont branch and IT/MIS. The internships run for one semester and are available year-round. Belmonte cautions other credit unions interested in the concept to bone up on the labor laws governing unpaid internships, including the Fair Labor Standards Act. “It can become very dangerous for someone to work for a company as an unpaid intern and tell the company, `Yes, I’ll get credit for it,’ but not provide proof. They can turn around and sue us for back pay,” he says. “Do as much research as you can on the laws. Go to human resource sites and learn what other companies are offering. I sometimes call the school first or, when interviewing a student, I ask them to provide a letter or other proof of eligibility to receive course credit for the internship. Once they’re accepted, then I sign the intern up and give them a window of time to provide proof they are they are indeed now registered for course credit.” -

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