Computer science major Justin Szaro ’23 spent the spring semester of his junior year learning and doing front-end website development—producing the code that creates what a user sees and interacts with directly on any given website. Szaro was among 13 students selected for a special internship developed by Fēnom Digital and Moravian’s recently launched Office of University Partnerships. Fēnom is a leading Salesforce-certified boutique agency that transforms e-commerce websites to provide exceptional customer experience.
Dylan Runne ’16, who founded Fēnom in 2019, collaborated with Katie Desiderio, assistant vice president of corporate educational partnerships, and members of the computer science and business departments to create a unique internship that would give students interested in a career in computer science or business an opportunity to delve deeply into the work and operations at Fēnom.
Runne says he decided to enter the partnership because he wanted Moravian students to know the possibilities of a career in the e-commerce industry. “This industry has given so much to me and allows me to continue to learn in so many different areas,” he says, “and I want to show this path to students at Moravian.”
The 15-week internship was designed around two phases. Phase 1 consisted of classroom-based learning sessions led by different employees from Fēnom Digital, who would teach their specific disciplines, such as software development, project management, and quality assurance.
During the second half of the program, students were divided into two teams that used a “sandbox” from customer relationship management firm Salesforce to complete a mock project that would be similar to what they would deliver to an actual client. A sandbox is an isolated testing environment where users can run programs or open files without affecting the platform on which they run. Essentially, the participants were tasked with making modifications to an out-of-the-box e-commerce template that fit a mock client’s requirements. Each student was paired with a Fēnom Digital employee mentor.
It’s a classic win-win situation. “We custom-built this internship program to drill down into how Fēnom operates on a day to-day basis,” says Runne, “and it gives us this new employee pool to pull from as they look into their careers from both a technical and a business point of view.”
Jessica Collazo graduated from Moravian in 2021 with a major in international management and then went right into Moravian’s MBA program. As an intern in the Fēnom program, she worked on the business side of the e-commerce industry. “I spent most of my time in project management, making sure that tasks are getting done on our timeline, managing the budget and scope of the project, and communicating to the client,” she says. Collazo enjoyed the experience so much she applied for a full-time position in project management at Fēnom and was hired last spring.
Jack Fineanganofo and Michael Shimer, who both graduated in May 2022, were hired as junior full-stack developers to work on back-end and front-end website solutions.
Szaro, who has another year at Moravian before he enters the workforce, appreciated the experience the internship provided. He particularly liked being paired up with the business interns, because he felt he learned a lot about the business side of e-commerce, including how to make the requirements of the project clear to both the client and the other software developers.
“As a first real-world experience, it was absolutely fantastic, and I think every student should get some kind of internship with an outside company,” he says. “It’s especially great to see someone like Dylan, who graduated from Moravian, come back and help out Moravian students.”
For his part, Runne was pleased with how the program went and felt it was a game changer for both Fēnom and the Moravian community. “While we’re still building the plane as we’re flying it,” Runne says about the internship program, “the students adapted to change and dealt with ambiguity in the same ways we do in everyday life. The professionalism and knowledge the students presented through the 15-week program was truly impressive, and we’re looking forward to continuing to iterate for future success.”
Look no farther than the fall 2023 semester, when the next iteration is scheduled to take off.
Steve Neumann ’94, G’18 is a freelance writer living in New Jersey.