Aroosa Ajani, a Trinity University graduate from the Class of 2018, came to Trinity with her sights set on being an urban planner. Her coursework had taught her to analyze large data sets, perform complicated analyses, and make significant recommendations for improvements, but most importantly, it had challenged her toward one fundamental narrative: How can we use data to help us make better decisions?
Little did Ajani know, it was exactly this type of question that would land her a coveted internship with multinational tech company Dell Technologies—an internship reserved specifically for students like her.
For the past five years, Trinity and Dell have partnered to place deserving undergraduates in summer internships—so much so, the university has been named a core school for recruiting interns and employees into Dell’s supply chain operations. Dell interns-turned-full-time-employees have come from majors as varied as economics, engineering science, finance, international studies, mathematics, modern languages, sociology, urban studies, and business analytics and technology.
Mike Owens, parent of a 2019 Trinity University graduate, former vice president at Dell, and previous executive sponsor for Dell’s recruiting relationship with Trinity, notes, “The things Dell needs in an employee are in direct alignment with Trinity’s curriculum.”
And what are those “things”? For Owens, they’re grit, resilience, and optimism. “Having a foundational set of skills you can apply broadly makes you versatile,” Owens says. These skills send Trinity students through the recruitment process at rates similar to students from Dell’s other go-to institutions, including Penn State and Arizona State University, which enroll 70,000-80,000 undergraduates on multiple campuses. Trinity’s highly selective undergraduate student body is typically nearer to 2,500.
Aroosa Ajani ’18 used coursework and research in urban studies to ask an important question: How can we use data to help us make better decisions?
Grit, resilience, and optimism are at the core of Ajani’s playbook. “Trinity University makes it easy to follow your interests outside your major—and outside your comfort zone,” says Ajani, who today works in Supply Chain Risk and Resilience for Dell. Her summer internship there led to a full-time position after graduating with majors in urban studies and business analytics.
“The Dell recruiters were interested in students who could think about systems and organizations in a critical way,” says Ajani, a Sugar Land, Texas, native. The recruiters pointed to a project Ajani participated in while at Trinity. Conducted for San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg ’99, the project looked at equal funding versus equitable funding of San Antonio’s 10 council districts. The project carried over specifically into her role with Dell, where she now assesses policy/regulatory and business risk and how Dell can build a more resilient system and supply chain. “It marries my interest in policy and systems planning with my experience in supply chain and data analytics,” she says.
Today, Ajani also program manages Dell’s Trinity recruiting team in Global Operations, working in close collaboration with many other Trinity University alumni. She says her recruiting team prioritizes multiple touch points on Trinity’s campus, including steady engagements on campus and active mentorship.
Trinity University’s internship pipeline with Dell Technologies is just one example of the university’s investment in hands-on experiential learning opportunities for its undergraduates.
“At Trinity University, we believe that experiential learning is an important part of how students learn to apply knowledge in a real world environment, while developing essential skills to complement classroom learning,” says Danny Anderson, Trinity University president.
This real world? They’re watching. They’re recruiting. They’re hiring.
And Trinity University has the proof: Its undergraduate Class of 2021 has achieved a 98% outcome rate—the highest in the University’s recorded history, according to Trinity’s Center for Experiential Learning and Career Services (CELCS).
This outcome rate, which the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) calls a “positive outcome rate,” refers to student outcomes within six months of graduation, with outcomes including types of employment, graduate or professional school enrollment, and those still seeking employment or further education.
But in simpler terms? It means new Trinity graduates are busy making their mark in whatever path they choose, whether that be a new job, graduate school, a fellowship, and more.
Katie Ramirez, director for the university’s Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success, says the record-breaking statistics are due to a number of factors, including the value of a liberal arts education, development of new employer pipelines, and, specifically, a degree from Trinity.
“Students come to Trinity for that holistic experience that permeates every aspect of their collegiate experience, and employers are noticing that,” she says. “One of the things we hear from employers all the time is that they can bring a Trinity student in, and as that company needs to pivot the Trinity student is able to respond. They’re able to problem solve, think creatively, and look at a situation from a lot of different perspectives.”
The university aims to see to it that these trends continue to rise. “Trinity University is committed to growing the number of opportunities that prepare our students for a competitive world,” Anderson says. “Our students frequently tell us these experiences are a transformative point in their Trinity journey on the path to discover, grow, and become the next generation of problem solvers, critical thinkers, and leaders.”
Learning Through Leading
What better way for the next generation to live into leadership? Through service to each other and the community in the Arts, Letters, and Enterprise (ALE) summer internship program. Founded in 2013, ALE is Trinity University’s one-of-a-kind connection between the liberal arts classroom and the professional world. The program connects arts, humanities, STEM, and social science students with area nonprofits for highly competitive internships. These internships are fully sponsored by Trinity and made possible through the generosity of donors and the dedication of mentors at each nonprofit.
Dakotah Brown ’24 spent the summer of 2021 interning with the Carver Community Center through the Arts, Letters, and Enterprise summer internship program.
Dakotah Brown ’24 was one of 22 undergraduates who put her studies to practice for the summer of 2021. The Spanish and sociology major was an intern with the Carver Community Center— “a hidden gem for San Antonio and a hub for Black history, and a beautiful place for art exhibits and performances,” she says. Brown worked alongside the supervisor and director of the Carver, observing the ins and outs of hosting events, rehearsals, camps for children and adults as well as participating in the behind-the-scenes preparation.
But for Brown, the internship wasn’t only about learning the ins and outs of a nonprofit organization; it was about learning new things about herself and who she wants to become. “I have a similar goal of the mission of the Carver: a celebration of the diverse cultures of our world, nation, and community, with emphasis on its African and African-American heritage,” Brown says. “I believe this is necessary to pay homage to Black history. I wanted to connect with my African American culture and celebrate my heritage and all the heritages of San Antonio.”
Ultimately, ALE internships are a bridge between knowledge and application, showing students that there’s really no teacher like experience. Since its inception in 2015, the ALE summer internship program has generated 125 summer internships at 47 different nonprofits and partner organizations in the community. Students selected for these opportunities have come from more than 40 majors.