Lenny Curtis '16 had an exceptional internship at Staples during the spring semester, for which he won an "InternHero" award.
When Lenny Curtis ‘16 entered the University of Hartford’s Hillyer College in 2012, he knew he wanted a career in business, but he needed the confidence, experience, and direction to make his dream a reality.
Today, thanks to his classes and mentors at UHart and an exceptional internship experience, Curtis is focused, driven, and poised for success.
During the spring 2015 semester, while carrying a full load of classes, Curtis spent every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday working at a high-level internship with Staples. He spent part of his internship at the retail chain’s headquarters in Framingham, Mass., shadowing executives, learning about corporate culture, and taking part in strategic planning and analyses aimed at helping Staples maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Curtis spent the other part of his internship at the retail level, working with a district manager at Staples’ eight stores in western Massachusetts and southern Vermont. In that role, he learned about the stores’ day-to-day operations, analyzed store sales, helped determine staffing levels for different time periods, and helped find new opportunities for market penetration.
Curtis’s hard work and eagerness to learn earned him an InternHero Award, which was presented in June at the Hartford-Springfield Economic Partnership’s annual State-of-the-Region Conference. Each year, the Partnership presents three InternHero Awards — one to a student, one to an employer, and one to a college or university. The student InternHero Award is presented “for overall excellence as a student intern, accomplishing both the educational goals of the internship and the unique work of the employer.”
In written remarks that were read at the award ceremony, Dan Salzarulo, Curtis’s supervisor at Staples, said that “Lenny always gave his best while at Staples and was very determined. He never let us down, and watching him grow and gain confidence in himself was truly inspiring.”
Curtis earned an associate’s degree from Hillyer College in 2014 and continued toward a bachelor’s degree in marketing in the University’s Barney School of Business, with a minor in communication. He expects to graduate in December, a semester ahead of schedule. This summer, Curtis has been taking classes online and working at Berkshire Bank's corporate headquarters in Pittsfield, Mass.
Curtis credits the classes and faculty in Hillyer and Barney with giving him the tools and the confidence to achieve success. Among the University faculty and staff whom he considers mentors is Director of Career Services John Kniering, who nominated Curtis for the InternHero Award. Curtis has worked in Career Services since his freshman year — in fact, while he was interning at Staples and taking a full load of classes, he continued to work in Career Services and as a tutor on campus.
Curtis says Hillyer College Dean David Goldenberg, along with a number of other Hillyer faculty and staff members, guided him and helped him find his passion for business.
“At Hillyer it’s just so personalized, and the professors really care about you,” Curtis said. “They helped me see my full potential. They helped me see that I was meant for Barney.”
Ironically, Curtis was not able to attend the ceremony at which his InternHero Award was presented. He is co-chair of the Berkshire County Central South “Relay for Life,” an event to raise money for the fight against cancer. On the day of the award ceremony, Curtis and a team of Staples supervisors and employees were taking part in the Relay for Life. Barney faculty member Celia Lofink accepted the award on his behalf.
“My internship with Staples has been incredible,” Curtis wrote in remarks that were read at the award ceremony. “This internship was life-changing and gave me the confidence and experience that I desperately sought.”