William Blair Summer Interns Celebrate MetroSquash as a Ladder to Success

Thursday, August 2, 2018

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Sitting from left, MetroSquash interns Langston Mitchell, Michel’le Messenger, Gabe Burton, Eric Lo. Standing from left, William Blair sponsors Kristina Campos, Joe Leibold, Julie Schaeffer, Allyson Martinez, Nitan Parikh, Paige LaCour.

Four collegians from Chicago’s MetroSquash youth development program wrapped up their summer internships with William Blair at the end of July by thanking their colleagues and sponsors for what they called an inspiring first experience in a professional office environment.

MetroSquash, founded in 2005, is an after-school program that offers training in squash as well as academic and social mentoring for underserved middle and high school students on Chicago’s South Side.

MetroSquash was selected by William Blair as a 2018-2019 community partner and received $200,000 to use over two years to expand its programs. Among those is the "colleges-to-careers" initiative this summer’s interns were a part of. One of the driving forces behind MetroSquash is William Blair financial advisor Jackie Moss, once the captain of her squash team at Princeton and one of the founders of MetroSquash more than a decade ago.

William Blair’s interns were four of 41 college students who participated in MetroSquash’s eight-week internship program beginning in June and gained exposure to companies across the United States—from Apple in California to ABC in New York.

MetroSquash interns
Gabriel Burton, who grew up in Englewood and joined MetroSquash as a 7th grader, graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Bates College in Maine, where he played on the men’s squash team. This summer he worked with William Blair’s investment management team in marketing research, using his math skills to analyze data, create graphics, and research social media.

“Because of MetroSquash, I have grown intellectually, culturally, and personally,” Burton says, calling the years in the program the most influential in his life. “I value every lesson taught and will carry them with me forever.”

Michel’le Messenger, a sophomore at Clark Atlanta University majoring in finance, spent her summer interning for Blair’s HR department. This first experience in a professional setting, she says, sharpened her communications skills and team work.

“I’ve been exposed to so many departments, meeting staff, and able to get a glimpse of what everyone does. It has been great,” says Messenger.

Eric Lo, a senior in computer science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, interned with William Blair’s IT department, helping to update databases and analyze different automated response systems.

“There’s this energetic fun environment at the same time that it’s serious—a work-hard, play-hard situation,” says Lo, describing his summer as “awesome.”

Langston Mitchell, an advertising and public relations major from Grand Valley State in Michigan, completed several research projects and helped archive data from recent marketing campaigns. Mitchell thanks both MetroSquash and William Blair for the experience, including a couple basic investing sessions with members of the private wealth team.

“Two really good places: I’m glad I’ve gotten to know and be a part of both for academia and beyond,” says Mitchell, who heads back to college this fall to continue classes and club team wrestling. “It was really good to be at William Blair.”

Colleges-to-careers initiative
MetroSquash’s colleges-to-careers was inspired by its own high school graduates who wanted to continue their relationship with the nonprofit on summer breaks from college. So building on the group’s experience in tutoring and mentoring youth through squash and academics, MetroSquash added a corporate internships program to keep its students on track to success.

“That was the impetus of our funding, and what is really inspiring and exciting is the students came up with the idea,” says Laura Coy, director of philanthropy strategy for William Blair.

“Those engagements will either bolster their experiences to make them more attractive to future employers or in some instances they may end up working where they interned,” Coy added.

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