Major: Computer Science
Internship: Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
Take the one train down to Wall Street, tread carefully among the suited men and women rushing through the curvy, cobblestoned streets, and you’ll reach the bright, grassy Hanover Square, home to the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. Upstairs in the cafeteria—which features stunning views of the Brooklyn Bridge and ships dotting the piers of the East River—Arie Salamon, data architect intern in the Information Technology division of Guardian Life, explains his role.
“My primary responsibility involves helping ensure that the internal data at Guardian is stored in the most logical and efficient manner,” he explains, sipping a cup of water to cool off from the humidity outside. “Every company needs to store certain information about their services, like product name, product description, and product price. A data architect helps ensure two primary things: that the data is correctly stored—for example, ensuring that every price is stored with the format $000,000.00—and that this data is organized in a way that makes it easily retrievable from the storage area. This is done both by modeling databases from scratch, and ensuring that older, ‘legacy’ databases are properly integrated into newer databases.”
In a nutshell, though, it’s all “actual” work. “I’m fully integrated with the team I’m working with at Guardian, and I’m doing actual work for them, which is obviously very rewarding. I’ve accomplished a lot in the five weeks of my internship so far. So even though I’m the ‘new kid on the block’, I’m working with veteran members of the team on projects vital to the growth of the company.”
Arie learned about the internship position from Robert Grosberg, Director of Career Services at the Graduate School of Technology, who regularly emails lists of career opportunities. After applying, and a grueling process consisting of three long interviews—both via telephone and in person—he received an offer to join the internship program. He accepted it, out of the several other offers he received. “I thought this was the best fit for me, and thankfully they felt so too.”
The exhaustive, comprehensive interview process is standard for Wall Street firms, says Arie, who are often bombarded with thousands of resumes. “I have to thank Ron Ansel and Chaim Shapiro from Career Services, as well as Robert Grosberg, for their help preparing me for my interviews,” Arie points out. “One of the tips they gave me was to highlight something that makes you stand out from a crowd. So on my resume,” he smiles, “I included the fact that I am a magician.”
This is confirmed when the pen on his portfolio suddenly disappears and reappears behind his ear. A computer science major who’s a magician? He laughs. “Everyone’s always surprised—but it kinda makes sense, if you think about. I love problem-solving, thinking of shortcuts, puzzles. Coding is like magic, in a way—you input a bunch of letters and, voila! You’ve created something out of thin air.”
“There’s a line Dr. Robinson always uses from a famous computer scientist: “‘You either need to know what it does or how to use it, not how it works.’ And if you know that when you input A, it goes through a black box and B comes out, then…it doesn’t really matter how it works, right?”
While LCM prepared him somewhat for the kind of work he’s performing at Guardian (in particular, his database and systems administration courses), most of his training is on the job. “As necessary as having a good education is (and I truly do believe the Computer Science department at Lander is phenomenal—can I give a shout-out to Professor Robinson?), there’s nothing like ‘trial by fire’ to really get to know a subject. Seeing the concepts that I learned in class come to life in a real world environment is invaluable.”
Guardian also hosts additional programs and networking events for its seventy-or-so other interns, such as a weekly “Lunch with Leaders” in which interns meet and hear from senior members of the company. “Just last week, we had our big event, Intern Day, where we met and got advice from several members of the executive team, including Guardian Life CEO Deanna Mulligan,” adds Arie.
His beginnings originated with the computer, of course. “I’ve always enjoyed computers, so it was only natural to continue along that path and expand that into a career. The saying goes: ‘choose a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life’, and that’s what I plan to do.”