As part of the Toppel Career Center Internship Program, Justine-Marie Joseph is learning the ins and outs of software development for the financial industry at Schonfeld Strategic Advisors’ local office.
Justine-Marie Joseph grew up in the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago and was forced to decide on her ideal career path in high school. Because of his love of science, Joseph aspired to become a biomedical engineer.
But soon after she took a coding class at the University of Miami, Joseph realized she was more interested in technology than biology. Soon after, she transitioned into computer engineering with a focus on software.
After working in the university’s information technology department, Joseph gained more off-campus experience last summer by interning at the Wynwood location of New York-based investment banking platform Schonfeld Strategic Advisors. Schonfeld is a fast-growing mid-sized company with at least 1,000 employees spread across offices in Miami, New York, Chicago, California, London and Shanghai, Joseph said.
The experience of this senior is great. She is now continuing to work as a part-time intern in the company’s information technology department. She hopes to work in their company after graduation in May. As part of the Toppel Career Center Internship Program, Joseph met Schonfeld recruiters last spring at the College of Engineering job fair on campus.
She shared some details about her current and previous internships.
What motivated you to do an internship?
We all know that if you want to get a full-time job opportunity after graduation, you need to intern and gain practical experience. I’ve never worked for a US company outside of college, so I wanted that experience. After switching careers from biomedical engineering in my sophomore year, I also wanted to gain some work experience in my major. I officially started Computer Engineering in Spring 2021.
Beyond that, getting an internship can help you explore what people in the industry are doing and the tools they use. For example, we learn to develop software with code in class. But there are other things like testing, deploying software, and making it into a product—that’s where internships are valuable. It helps me take our team’s ideas to the next step, from fundamentals to something conceivable.
How do you protect this?
I met some of the Schonfeld folks at last year’s career fair and they talked about their versatility in accepting students from a variety of backgrounds. They were very receptive throughout my application process and my interviews were only a few days apart. All three interviews were very fast, so that impressed me.
Also, within a few weeks I found out if I did an internship with them, which was a positive experience. I am starting a 10 week on-site placement with the End User Services team in late May 2022. After the summer break, I asked if I could join a team that was doing more software development. They were very receptive and offered me a part-time remote position for the fall semester, which I’m currently doing as part of the “harbour” team.
What are you doing for the company?
Currently, I’m doing software testing of microservices for a trading platform. In other words, my team provides a service that records which stocks, bonds or funds were traded, and whether the trade was a loss or a profit. It helps to track investments and this information can also provide visuals for managers and clients.
What types of things did you learn during your internship?
Some of the most important things I learned weren’t even technical. It was scary at first, but I learned to ask questions instead of making assumptions and embrace the experience because you really get what you put into it. For example, attend events you don’t have to so you get to know everyone in the office — you never know who you might see again. I ended up meeting up with someone I met in a coffee chat.
In terms of skills, I’m also now coding in Java, a programming language I’ve never coded in before. I only took C++ at the University of Miami, so I used J unit testing in Java, which I’ve never done before, so it was – and is – great.
This internship also helped me build my confidence and realize that maybe everyone is not as far ahead as I think. I realize that everyone is still learning and I can learn a lot from others who have more experience in the field. It helped me find the career I wanted to pursue, and it helped with my decision to become a software engineer.
Schonfeld offers a large community that you can rely on. Even if you interact with people who aren’t on your team, there will be many different perspectives on the table. This is the most inclusive environment.
When I meet with reps at job fairs, they make it clear that their workforce is very diverse and that they are an international company. It’s hard to find companies willing to work with international students, and they’re surprisingly open about the paperwork. It was a smooth and fast process. And there’s a great company culture that makes people want to come into the office. I have a lot of mentors in my office and it feels like a community that I really want to be a part of. Ultimately, it made me want to come back because I had such a great experience during my summer break.
How does an internship align with your educational or career goals?
In the short term, I would love to work full-time on software development for Schonfeld, at least for a few years. Because I really like this company. Later, I also wanted to do an MBA because I was interested in program and product management.
My dream job in the next 10 years is as a technical project manager – meeting people to discuss plans and project timelines in any company’s technical area. This internship made me realize that I love connecting with people, but I also love the technical side of things. In the role of project manager, I can combine the two.