COOKEVILLE – Tennessee Tech students and alumni are known for being technically adept problem solvers, and international finance firm AllianceBernstein is working with the university to create opportunities for Tech students.
“AllianceBernstein has a rather robust talent recruiting program whereby we visit and partner with universities and colleges across the nation to attract the brightest minds to our company,” said Hungdan Ly, senior vice president and head of Internet Services and Cybersecurity Technology at the firm.
The university’s relationship with AllianceBerstein marks a new level of collaboration with companies seeking talent, Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham said.
“This program shows our willingness to serve our students and our state economy by connecting students and companies,” said Oldham.
According to Ly, students have the opportunity to earn a paid internship in areas and departments throughout the company, providing them with an opportunity to not only learn about AllianceBernstein, but also a “behind-the-scenes” look into the firm’s associate programs for when they graduate from college.
“Often times, upon graduation, the interns are accepted and hired into our full-time associate program,” Ly said, adding that the associates have opportunities to rotate into different groups and departments over the two-year Associate program.
“From our experience, we believe a successful recruiting and development program is truly a partnership between AB and the college,” Ly said.
Two Tech graduates, Hayden Hicks and Dalton Strunk, both computer science majors who graduated in 2019, have gained valuable experience at the global investment-management and research firm.
Strunk, who began as an intern and then was hired full-time into the firm’s associate program, described his “wonderful experience” with the firm.
“Coming in as an intern and later becoming an associate provides you with the opportunity to try new things,” said Strunk, a native of Winfield, Tenn. “You are rotated through different departments and each time you learn new things that help you discover more about yourself and what you like. Each rotation helped guide me to my eventual placement as a security engineer.”
Hicks, who came to the firm directly as an associate, echoes Strunk’s thoughts on the opportunity for growth at AllianceBernstein.
“[AllianceBernstein has] a great culture around learning and growing talent,” said Hicks, who hails from Lenoir City. “I’ve been able to work on natural language processing, sentiment analysis, data cleaning and analysis, web development and automation. My experiences have been so varied that I’ve gained invaluable skills in my time here.”
This investment in its staff members, both interns and full-time employees, is a value central to AllianceBernstein’s culture, according to Allie Feiner, Assistant Vice President and Technology and Operations Associate Program Manager.
“AB is seeking the next generation of talent to develop,” Feiner said. “We are looking not only to recruit but also to train, retain and grow the people we bring into the firm for a career, not just the role they are applying for. We make career development an emphasis through mentorship, coaching, instructor-led training and endless resources. As individuals evolve in their skills and either expand their roles or take on new ones, we continue to bring in exceptional talent to grow.”
Both Hicks and Strunk think their time at Tech readied them for their work at AllianceBernstein.
“I can say that Tech prepared me well for my time at the firm,” Hicks said.
For Strunk, the benefits flowed both ways: his education at Tech prepared him for his time at AllianceBernstein, and his internship at the firm impacted his time at Tech.
“Many of the courses [I took] were vital in understanding the fundamental background of what I currently do,” Strunk said. “When I returned back to campus after my internship, I had a much broader understanding of what I could expect from my career path, so I found myself often seeking real-world applications for the subjects I was taking.”
“Our interns and associates are valued resources to the firm that are not treated lightly,” Ly said. “The interns and associates are given real hands-on projects with real deliverables.”
Feiner describes the internship program at AB as a “hands-on experience where students have clear ownership of meaty and meaningful work that contributes to the firm.”
“They are part of a larger internship program but also embedded as a team member and experience the day-to-day responsibilities of working for the firm,” Feiner said. “Interns are afforded tremendous opportunity to learn, network and interact with executives at all levels and their summer culminates in a presentation to our executive team and managers. In a short ten weeks, they drive incredible impact to their teams and the firm at large.”
During their internship, students have both a senior mentor who is not in their leadership chain for their project, as well as a junior or peer mentor.
AllianceBernstein began establishing its relationship with Tennessee Tech when the company relocated its headquarters from New York City to Nashville in 2019 and think highly of the school.
“From our experience with some of our new associates as well as some of the faculty members, Tennessee Tech has proven to be a valued higher learning institution with strong curriculums and resources that prepare students well,” Ly said. “The students and graduates we’ve met and hired have exhibited strong work ethics, teamwork, accountability and responsibility, and a good foundation of technical knowledge.”
“We love Tennessee Tech students at AB and have had really strong success stories! Tennessee Tech students have really strong technical foundations and have driven strong impact on our teams,” Feiner said.
“We look forward to working closely with Tennessee Tech over the coming months to meet and establish opportunities for its students,” Ly said.