July 9, 2012
Chris Whalen '12
WEST HAVEN, CONN. -- When 2012 University of New Haven graduate Chris Whalen of Adams, Mass., was applying to jobs, he had a title on his résumé that not many other students had: vice president.
Whalen earned the title during his senior year at UNH when he served as Connex Credit Union’s vice president of “unbanking,” a year-long paid internship program developed by Mason, Inc., a New Haven area brand communications firm.
Connex’s “unbanking” campaign encourages consumers to take advantage of the customer- focused approach of credit unions over the profit first and people-second approach of traditional banks. He represented the credit union in the community, ran its social media initiatives and promoted the benefits of credit unions over banks.
Connex of North Haven, Conn., has more than 40,000 members and assets of $366 million. The credit union opened in 1940.
During his internship, Whalen had the opportunity to sit in on marketing team meetings and help brainstorm events and future strategies. He was responsible for communicating the message of “unbanking” through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogging.
“Not only was I in an industry that I love, but I was on the front lines of a real marketing team,” he said.
Clearly, Whalen left quite an impression on the Connex executives as he was offered a full-time position as a marketing and e-service specialist after he completed his internship.
“The most rewarding part of the experience has been getting to know people in the community at different events,” Whalen said. “Connex really offered a great opportunity.”
Last summer, Whalen interned at MasterCard Worldwide during a very active time when Congress was working to pass reforms in the financial industry. He also has served as a supervisor of the UNH Phonathon, which helps raise alumni support for the Annual Fund, and as president of the university’s chapter of the American Marketing Association.
Whalen has enjoyed meeting new people who share his passion for marketing and advertising.
“I hope to keep finding new and creative ways to spread the message of ‘unbanking’ and educate people about the differences between banks and credit unions,” he says regarding his new job at Connex.
Matt Caporale, executive director of career development at UNH, said surveys show that employers rank internships high when evaluating job applicants. “It’s the most relevant thing a student can do and it’s the best way to position yourself as a marketable candidate,” he said.
The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960. The University provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities. UNH enrolls approximately 6,400 students, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and University College, UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. UNH students have access to more than 50 study abroad programs worldwide and its student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.