Paige Risenhoover admits that she didn’t know too much about Boeing when she applied to the FLITE (Future Leaders in Thought and Experience) Program during her freshman year at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. She decided to give it a shot anyway.
The competitive 10-week summer program is offered to 12 rising sophomores from UMSL, Truman State University, Howard University and Saint Louis University who live on the UMSL campus while completing a working internship at Boeing.
Four years later, with two more internships at Boeing under her belt – plus a new full-time position at the Fortune 500 company – Risenhoover is glad she took that leap.
Risenhoover, who graduated with her bachelor’s degree in international business in December, decided early on to make the most out of her experience at UMSL. She applied for and was awarded several scholarships, including the Green Foundation Scholarship, Community Scholarship at Oak Hall, Honors College Scholarship and Triton Summer Scholarship; participated in the Pierre Laclede Honors College Student Association; and served as the social media coordinator for UMSL’s Finance Club.
“UMSL offers a ton of opportunities, which I think is really nice,” Risenhoover said. “I really wanted to take advantage of that. I was paying for a four-year degree, and I wanted to get everything out of it that I could.”
Risenhoover also took advantage of the many professional opportunities offered through UMSL. In addition to the FLITE program, she was among the first 15 students to take part in a mentorship program created by the College of Business Administration in partnership with Edward Jones that launched in August 2021.
Due to the pandemic, Risenhoover’s FLITE cohort at Boeing was the first to complete the program virtually, but she said she was still able to gain valuable real-world experience. For the FLITE portion of the internship, she worked with the other students in the program to create presentations on DEI topics, including ways to make Boeing more diverse and inclusive. The internship also featured a finance component, which gave her experience in estimating and pricing for Phantom Works, Boeing’s advanced research, development and prototyping division.
“Boeing is rated very highly for their internships, so you get a ton of experience and career development,” she said. “It’s not like the stereotypical internship that you see on TV where you’re getting coffee. I was doing actual estimates for the company in my first internship. I really have learned a ton about finance.”
Because of her positive experience in the FLITE program, Risenhoover decided to complete two more internships at Boeing. Her second internship was in core estimating and pricing for the Boeing Commercial Airplanes unit, in which she learned to make training videos and create and maintain web pages. During this time, she also completed a business case competition where she ran a cost analysis for converting a passenger airplane to a freighter airplane. She and her fellow interns were able to fly out to Seattle and present their work to Boeing’s executives and product development team, which was a major highlight of the experience.
In Risenhoover’s third and most recent internship at Boeing, she worked in finance transformation and FSNA (finance systems and analytics).
“Finance transformation is all about simplification, and then FSNA is all about implementing new systems to advance that simplification,” she said.
Through these internships, she’s gained wide-ranging experience across the financial sector that has allowed her to hone her interests and think about where she’d like to take her career. Eventually, she’d like to move into a project management or program management role.
“A lot of people describe it as babysitting,” she said with a laugh. “But it’s just facilitating meetings, making sure that people are getting their work done for a project and connecting the right people with the right people. Pretty much just overseeing a project and all the employees – making sure they’re accomplishing what they need to and helping them figure out what they need to accomplish those things.”
Much like those internships, Risenhoover’s new full-time position in Boeing’s finance career foundational program will help her develop different skills across the finance sector. The two-year program features four six-month rotations in financial positions throughout the company such as accounting, financial operations and planning and analysis.
Looking back, Risenhoover is grateful for the opportunities afforded to her while at UMSL, specifically pointing to the Career Services staff and Pierre Laclede Honors College faculty, in addition to the university’s connections with local businesses including Boeing and Edward Jones. She encourages other students to take advantage of the resources that are available to them on campus.
“It can be a little bit awkward sometimes going to Career Services and saying, ‘Help me with my resume,’ but they’re really, really nice and helpful,” she said. “Use your resources and your professors. UMSL is very much a helpful community, and UMSL helps a lot of students get employed in St. Louis.”
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