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Student means business at his own lecture series
By: Donna Porstner
Article Published: Saturday, April 5, 2008
STAMFORD - Andrew Kostin starts his days at the Academy of Information Technology & Engineering. But by midafternoon, he's working for one of world's largest investment banks.
The high school senior, who recently began his second internship with UBS Investment Bank in downtown Stamford, started a lecture series to teach his peers about the company - and what it's like to enter the rat race.
The 17-year-old decided to bring what he was learning in the workplace back to school after getting peppered with questions from curious classmates.
"They would say, 'What types of servers do you use, and what's your BCM plan?' "he said, explaining the tech-savvy teens wanted to know what business continuity plans the firm has in place to disperse information during power outages and other emergencies.
Kostin couldn't answer all their questions, so he decided to bring in the experts who could. He invited UBS executives to speak on topics ranging from balancing stock portfolios and equities to diversity in the workplace.
He modeled the talks after a lecture series he participated in last summer for UBS interns. About 50 students have attended each session.
"It gives our students an idea what's going on with the economy, what's going on in the business world, and gives them ideas for career paths," AITE Principal Paul Gross said.
Kostin receives high school credit for coordinating the lectures and working at UBS after school. While several AITE students are doing independent studies, he's is the only one to launch a lecture series, Gross said.
"This is a really special event, where the student - with no motivation other than his idea - decided to put this together," Gross said. "He just saw a great opportunity to give back to his school in a very unique way, and we are very proud of
Kostin, whom the principal describes as "quite smart, quite aggressive and quite focused," is president of the school's Stock Market Club and a student council representative for the senior class. He also serves as a student ambassador, giving prospective students and their parents tours of the campus. "He's got a work ethic, and he's got a vision that's not typical of most seniors," Gross said.
Brian Bishop, a UBS executive director, said Kostin was the only high school intern invited to stay on during the school year, largely because of his expertise in building internal Web sites.
"I think it was Andrew's technical skills that led us to keep him on for the full year," Bishop said. AITE is an interdistrict magnet school that integrates technology into college-preparatory classes. The school, which had 183 students when it opened at Rippowam Middle School in 2000, has nearly 500 pupils today. It moved into a state-of-the art, $45 million building in September.
Like Kostin, about a third of the students come from outside Stamford. Students must apply and are chosen by lottery.
"Andrew is just one of the shining examples of what students from outside of our district have brought to our district," Gross said.
Kostin, who lives in Darien, attended Cushing Academy, a boarding school in Ashburnham, Mass., for his freshman year, before transferring to AITE two years ago. At the time, he was interested in a career in technology, said his mother, Susan Kostin. Her son's interest shifted to the business world after participating in the UBS internship and job-shadowing programs that took him into local businesses such as Pitney Bowes and the Marriott hotel downtown, she said.
Andrew Kostin's father was a managing partner with PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Stamford who taught tax law at the University of Pennsylvania's law school and Wharton School of Business. During Andrew Kostin's sophomore year, he attended one of the last classes his father taught before he died. "Clearly, that was an influence," Susan Kostin said.
He plans to study business in college, although he has not decided which school he
will attend in the fall: the University of New Haven or Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.
Asked whether some of his lectures are too grown-up for high school students, Kostin admitted the first presentation, on the topic of risk, went over the heads of some teens in the audience. But he said it has been a good learning experience to work with the guest speakers to develop a program suitable for his age group.
"I took the feedback I got from the students, and what I saw myself, and I said, 'Why don't you less PowerPoint presentations and just talk about what you did in college?” he said.
Kostin hopes that by giving his peers some insight into the business world, they will be inspired to seek out careers in the financial services industry.
"Through the speaker series, I am saying you can get there in life, and this how you get there," he said.