Real Impact stories spotlight the real difference that people, programs and partnerships – across the system – make on the state's economic, social and cultural well-being. For more, meet Lura.
Synchrony’s vision is building a future where every ambition is within reach. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) interns fuel that vision every day. They share ideas and insights on Synchrony teams and even with the financial and technology powerhouse’s top leaders.
“I love that our interns can reach out to anyone in the organization for anything – for career advice or to get to know them,” said Karin Dor Markovich. She’s the associate site director for Synchrony’s Emerging Technology Center (ETC) at UIUC’s Research Park. “Anyone at Synchrony will find time to talk with our interns. Our leaders are just a ping away.”
Synchrony’s cloud OS automation engineering manager since 2021, Ashish Pabba started as an intern in summer 2019. He did cybersecurity and robotic automation work then, gaining the robust experience the company promises and provides.
“We’ve all heard stories about giving interns work that keeps them occupied and that will never see the light of day. As an intern I was always working on something meaningful,” Pabba said. “As the pandemic eased up my senior year, our team needed support for employees who come to our offices from time to time. We interviewed vendors and made a recommendation. Now Synchrony uses that scheduling solution for hybrid employees at our sites around the globe."
Synchrony is a University of Illinois System partner in fueling innovation. Leaders discussed growing that partnership at Synchrony Chicago during the U of I System’s 2022 state tour. Both organizations place great value on internships that lead to the high-tech jobs of today and the future.
“At Synchrony, we don’t just prepare students for how to do the work. We prepare them for whatever comes next in their career,” Mike Storiale said. He is Synchrony’s vice president of Innovation Development and University Partnerships.
For example, summer 2022 featured the clear expectation that interns work in person.
“Many of our 50 student interns envisioned working remotely. We wanted them to build connections by actually seeing what others are working on. We wanted them to have those casual conversations in the kitchen,” Dor Markovich said. “Before we knew it, they were getting together after work and on the weekends.
“And they were sharing ideas and getting great exposure. It was magic!”
At the interview stage, Dor Markovich looks at personality more than accomplishments. Instead of asking students about experience, she assesses their ability to explain complex things simply.
“Karin asks them to share something they’re passionate about in five minutes or less. That helps students feel more comfortable and engaged in a way that’s fair to them. And it’s telling for us,” Storiale said. “It shows us who can view the world in a different way, who can communicate to build relationships.”
A greater good
On the relationship front, Synchrony and the U of I System also share the commitment to access to higher education. They support underserved communities and environmental sustainability, among other pressing issues.
Jane Kim, a human resources intern from Aurora, appreciates Synchrony’s commitment to work that matters and to the public good.
“As someone joining the early career workforce soon, companies being socially responsible is important to me. Interns care a lot about addressing environmental issues and other causes. So interning at a company that gives you the resources to do so is really great,” she said.
Kim added Synchrony’s corporate citizenship is genuine.
“Senior leadership models volunteering with and supporting organizations that help communities,” she said.
On state tour stops across the state, U of I System representatives talked with business leaders and community members about addressing workforce challenges.
“Like the rest of the country, in Illinois we have more positions than people to fill them,” said Kyle Harfst, the system’s associate vice president for economic development and innovation. “Internships are part of the solution for building and maintaining a strong workforce. They are a gateway from system universities to employers. They are low risk with the potential for high reward for both parties.”
Harfst said public and private entities must value diverse voices and work-life balance to grab and keep employees.
The Synchrony culture resonates with young people.
“This is an amazing place to start your professional career. The sky really is the limit here for what you can learn and do. At the ETC, Synchrony stays focused on growing the next generation of innovation leaders,” Kim said.
The University of Illinois System's impact through our strong and growing partnerships is just part of what makes us Altogether Extraordinary.