Tradition of Excellence Opens Internship and Subsequent Employment Opportunities

A Computer Science alumni works in his office

In 1999, computer science major Mary Barrell Kunkle ’00 was looking for an internship for the summer before her senior year. Robert Dillane ’77, director of enterprise information systems at LVC, suggested that she apply at Datatel, a company based in Fairfax, Va., which specialized in creating and implementing administrative software for colleges and universities—including LVC.

“The internship allowed us to work onsite for the summer. They put us up in apartments and paid us and had us work on various projects,” Kunkle explains. “Then after the summer was over, part of the internship was to spend time working on campus with the product. So I spent the next year working in the IT Department at LVC.”

Datatel evidently was pleased with Kunkle’s work—the company made her a job offer in March of her senior year. She started her career at Datatel right after graduation, and today is a senior consultant with the company—now known as Ellucian—working with new clients to migrate data into their new software systems.

Kunkle remembers that the internship was a great experience— and that several of her fellow majors were interested in it the following year. Eric Connelly ’01, Parrish Fessler ’01, and Jason Hocker ’01 applied and were awarded internships at Datatel in the summer of 2000. Today, Fessler (associate project manager) and Hocker (principal software developer) are still with the company, while Connelly is an application developer at JPMorgan Chase. Over the years, several other LVC students have interned with the company, including Sarah White ’02 and Chris Ulicny ’12.

Kunkle believes LVC prepared her well for her work at Ellucian. “More than anything else, I think the work ethic required by the professors made a difference,” she says. “And learning how any computer language structure is made helps—that gave me a good base for quickly learning any language that I needed to learn.”

Hocker agrees: “Dr. [Ken] Yarnall [chair and associate professor of mathematical sciences] always told us that he was preparing us to be able to learn new things. It was my ability to quickly understand new technology that made me a good candidate. You have to be able to keep learning and working on new technology.” Like Kunkle, Hocker was offered full-time employment at Datatel during the spring of his senior year, and he began his career there after graduation.

Today, Hocker works at Ellucian as the iOS and Android developer of the company’s mobile phone application Ellucian GO. He remembers that Dillane interviewed potential internship candidates from LVC, essentially nominating students for the internship, and that Dillane’s recommendation went a long way toward winning a candidate an internship. “At Ellucian, we have a really good relationship with our clients, such as LVC,” he says. “If you say Bob Dillane’s name around here, people know who he is.

“One thing I love about Ellucian is working with colleges,” Hocker continues. “I feel good about what we’re working on, and I love our relationship with LVC and other colleges.” Hocker notes that the insights he gained as a student intern still inform his work today. “When I’m working on a new product, I’m thinking about how it will affect the school and how it will help them better their systems,” he says. “It’s helpful to keep in mind what kind of impact this new technology will have on the school.”