Student Spotlight: “Do Everything in Your Power”

When Ryan Costenbader first toured Pitt’s campus, he was intrigued by the Career Center’s internship guarantee program. Wanting to secure his guaranteed internship as soon as possible, the information science major attended his first career fair as a freshman, but was told my many companies’ representatives to come back when he was a junior or senior with more course experience.

Unwilling to give up in his pursuit for an internship, Costenbader decided to improve his application documents while he was waiting to get more experience. He met with internship associate Alex Ball during his sophomore year, right before the Covid pandemic hit. With Ball’s help, Costenbader strengthened his resumé and cover letter. Ball also gave him some key advice: apply to as many positions as possible.

“It was really good advice,” Costenbader admits, “but that strategy actually didn’t work for me when I was looking for an internship. Luckily, Alex gave me another tip – to rely on my connections to find a position – and that’s what wound up working.”

Costenbader’s roommate knew of an internship at the company where his uncle worked, Silver Management Group of Companies, and Costenbader was able to interview for that position and secure it. For a year, Costenbader interned at Silver Management Group, and ultimately used the experience he gained there to secure his current, full-time position at Vitech Systems Group upon graduating in spring 2022.

Silver Management Group is a financial tech company that uses software to help manage different funds based on stock market calculations. For the year he was there, Costenbader helped test different software and various processes, and really enjoyed the experience.

“Even though it was just an internship, I was treated like a part-time employee,” Costenbader explains. “I really felt like a part of the team and I learned so many new skills.”

When it came time to search for a full-time job, Costenbader once again turned to the Center’s career fairs.

“During my junior and senior years, the pandemic was happening, which made it really difficult to get internships and jobs, so I just went to all the career fairs I could,” Costenbader notes.

At these virtual fairs, Costenbader scheduled one-on-one meetings with numerous recruiters from various tech companies, scheduling up to eight meetings per day, including one with a recruiter from Vitech. That meeting led to an interview where Costenbader highlighted the skills he had learned during his time at Silver Management Group.

“I was able to leverage the skills I’d gained during my internship to get my role at Vitech,” Costenbader says. “I read up about Vitech before the interview and just tried to answer their questions honestly, and I got the job.”

Vitech manages retirement and pension funds, testing and debugging different management software before it’s released.

“So far, I’m less than two months in, and seven weeks of that has been training,” Costenbader adds, “but I’m really liking it.”

Costenbader suggests that all students searching for an internship take advantage of the recruiter meetings during career fairs.

“People are scared to talk to recruiters, but they have to be here anyway, so you might as well make them earn their time.”

Costenbader also notes that success doesn’t always have to mean actually securing the position for which you’ve applied.

“To me, it’s all about setting your mind to doing something, and then doing everything in your power to achieve that goal,” he extrapolates. “It’s not necessarily achieving that goal, but rather knowing that you did everything you could to try to achieve it. If you apply to fifty jobs and try your best to get them, even if you don’t wind up getting any of them, that’s still a success.”

When it comes to what type of success Costenbader wants for his own future, he keeps it simple: “Financial security and independence, as soon as possible.” 

By Dionna Dash
Dionna Dash Nordenberg Scholar