School of Business

VCU Blogs

There’s no doubt the summer ‘22 Lester Fellowship Program was a resounding achievement.

Breanna Machado will be able to tailor her sophomore classes “more towards what I want to do.”

Olin Kolar accompanied a senior executive to an important proposal meeting – “which he said was the coolest thing he’d done.” And Mallory Keck-wilson netted the ultimate reward: “It allowed me to secure a job following graduation.”

Clearly — as Robert Taylor, executive director of the Risk Management and Insurance Program predicted last spring — “the Lester Fellows is a unique experiential learning opportunity.”

Three months, three companies, three interns

The students received broad, hands-on experience through a three-month paid rotational internship program at Markel, FCCI Insurance and Marsh McLennan. “Before doing the program, I knew about insurance, but I didn’t even know there was such a thing as brokerage firms for insurance,” confesses Machado. 

Mark Barden, senior vice president of the Atlantic division at Marsh McLennan Agency, says, “They were all good candidates, very engaged. It was good for both of us. It’s a good opportunity to meet young folks and bring them into the business.”

Zach Vaught, senior marketing analyst at Markel, was especially impressed with the interns’ dedication. “These are hard-working kids,” he says, “They were resourceful in ways I couldn’t have predicted. One figured out how to do something without even being told.”

Stacy Welsch, underwriting supervisor at FCCI Insurance, grins. “I had to tell one of the interns to stop being such an overachiever. What, you’re done already? It’s a good habit to have, but now I have to find something else for you to do!”

An immersive, total experience

At the end of the summer, representatives from the three companies held a debriefing session at VCU, offering feedback on potential changes going forth. One suggested a longer session at each company would be beneficial to allow students a deeper dive. Yet all agreed their companies would probably sign on for another year. 

“I hope they can wrap their heads around the total experience,” concludes Vaught. “I know I learned from them.”

Categories News
Tagged ,