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Management student selected for prestigious New York internship

NEW YORK INTERNSHIP: Fourth-year co-op student Derrick Fung has been selected for a prestigious internship at New York's Clinton Foundation. (Photo by Ken Jones.)

by Mary Ann Gratton

Fourth-year student Derrick Fung is the recipient of a prestigious internship to the William J. Clinton Foundation in New York, where he will be working for four months on planning a conference of global international leaders taking place in fall 2010.

A management student in the co-op program, Fung is one of four Canadians chosen for 60 of the prestigious internships offered by the foundation following a rigorous selection process. The William J. Clinton Foundation, established by former U.S. president Bill Clinton after he completed his second term in office, focuses on worldwide issues that demand urgent action, solutions, and measurable results -- global climate change, HIV/AIDS in the developing world, childhood obesity and economic opportunity in the United States, and economic development in Africa and Latin America.

“I was shocked to learn I had been accepted to the Clinton Foundation and it’s going to be a thrill to work with that caliber of people,” said Fung. “I’m very excited. I’ve worked in the private sector and I want to give back, because I believe that people won’t remember you for the profits you’ve made, but for the differences you’ve made in the world.”

The 22-year-old North York native has a résumé filled with successful accomplishments during his time as a student at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He was named Co-op Student of the Year in 2008, worked as a teaching assistant, and served as the president of the Management and Economics Students’ Association (MESA) on campus.

A finance major, Fung recently completed all of his required courses and will graduate at the June convocation. He began his volunteer unpaid internship on January 20 and will finish there in May.

While at the foundation, Fung will focus on the Clinton Global Initiative, which was launched in 2005. This project brings together a community of global leaders, university students, and private citizens to identify and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges, including poverty alleviation, climate change, global health, and education. The project culminates with an annual conference each September to bring together, by invitation only, heads of state, business executives, non-profit and foundation directors, philanthropists, academics, and religious leaders to move beyond discussion and take action to address global challenges in the areas of economic empowerment, education, energy and climate change, and global health.

Key personalities come to the conference and are asked to make significant commitments, both goal-oriented and monetary, that will address global needs. Last year’s participants included U.S. president Barack Obama, Microsoft leader Bill Gates, and entertainers Brad Pitt, Usher, Matt Damon, Alicia Keys and Bono.

Fung has not yet met former U.S. president Bill Clinton, but expects to do so near the end of his internship. “I’m very eager to meet him,” said Fung. “I want to ask him about the state of the economy and I’m interested in his thoughts on President Obama’s recently-enacted legislation reducing risk taking on Wall Street.”

At the foundation, Fung’s role will be to build relationships with current conference participants and recruit new participants. “They liked my business and sales experience and felt these skills would be useful,” said Fung. “Through my co-op work terms I’ve come to realize how important leadership qualities are.” Fung participated in co-op placements at Microsoft in marketing, BNP Paribas in equity derivative sales, and Merrill Lynch in sales and trading.

Following his stint at the Clinton Foundation, Fung plans to travel to Europe and Asia this summer prior to the start of full-time work. He has been hired by CIBC World Markets in Toronto and will start working there in August on the trading floor.

While doing his co-op work terms, Fung says he became interested in doing some not-for-profit work. He recently founded an organization called Young Bay Street Professionals (YBSP), a volunteer group managed by recent graduates of various business schools. “A lot of young people are working down on Bay Street, and the aim of this organization is to connect them to one another to encourage networking and to do charity work as a way to give back to the local community.” His group organized a pub night over the holidays, raising $1,400 for Toronto Youth Development. As well, the group plans to organize a boat cruise and various pub nights with proceeds going to charity.

“I loved being involved in things when I was a student,” said Fung. “A lot of young people start working and think there’s no outlet to get involved. I’ve realized how important it is to be involved, because it builds your character and challenges you -- all for a good cause.”

His favorite aspect of his four years at UTSC was his involvement in student life, he said. “My mindset was that school helps you learn how to learn, and academics are very important, but my extracurricular activities and involvement outside the classroom really developed me,” he said. “Through my co-op work terms and student activities, I’ve realized there are many other important things beyond marks, and I wanted my university career to be about much more than my grades.”

His favorite aspect of his field is “working with people. In any stream of study, you’re working with an organization and that means working with people. Learning to work with different people and in teams was very valuable, and I got a lot of group work experience in the management program and in MESA. I like working alongside different people from all different backgrounds and learning how to deal with them.”

Finance professor Syed Ahmed of UTSC describes Fung as someone with “the highest level of integrity. He’s one of the brightest students we’ve had. Derrick is very smart and versatile, and he cares a lot about people,” said Ahmed. “Despite his extremely busy schedule – being a full-time student and on the MESA executive, doing volunteer work and being a teaching assistant – he always exceeds expectations. No matter what he does, he puts his whole heart and soul into it, and always tries his best to help others in need. That’s just his nature.”

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