John Turner '82 helps grow an internship fund that ensures talented students get a fair shake

Sunday, January 12, 2020

John Turner ’82 (center) at Paul College with Justin Lappin ’16 (left) and Galen Hand ’16 (right), among the first students to receive grants from the IOF.

One of the best ways for UNH students to explore a particular career field and to showcase their talents is to secure an internship. Take, for example, Nicholas Stuart ’20, a Paul College business administration major who interned in Boston with the technology banking arm of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) last summer. Describing the opportunity as highly applicable to his classes and career aspirations, Stuart returned to Durham this fall having accepted an offer to join SVB full time upon his graduation in 2020.

Stuart has Paul College’s Internship Opportunity Fund (IOF), and its founder, John Turner ’82, to thank for making possible this “invaluable development” in his career trajectory. “Finding an attractive internship and accompanying living situation in a major city is hard enough,” Stuart explains. “Without the up-front capital to cover living expenses, it would have been impossible for me. The IOF provided me with a safety net of funding that let me fully commit myself to my internship without worrying about whether or not I could keep the lights on.

A longtime general partner at Westview Capital Partners, the Boston-based private equity firm he co-founded in 2004, John Turner was guided by his own early career experiences when he created the IOF at Paul College in 2014. “After I graduated from UNH, I went on a 10-year walkabout during which I lived and worked in Philadelphia, Chicago, New York City and Boston,” Turner recalls. “That travel gave me a dynamic perspective that I think has been a real boon to me in my work. When I later reconnected with UNH and began interacting with Paul College students, I was so impressed with their drive and talent, but also felt like they needed more opportunities to demonstrate themselves and see the world. That’s how the IOF was born.”

Now in its sixth year, the IOF has become a key philanthropic pillar of the Paul College Dean’s advisory board, with nearly 100 scholarships, worth $2,500 apiece, awarded during that period. The stipends, which offset travel and living expenses for summer internships that are most often located in expensive metropolitan areas, allow students to focus on, and immerse themselves in, the work at hand. The results are impressive. Of the 25 students awarded IOF scholarships for summer 2019, two-thirds had job offers in hand upon their return to UNH. What’s more, demand is now outstripping supply; approximately 70 students applied for last summer’s 25 scholarships.

As the IOF’s star continues to rise, Turner and the advisory board are eager to endow the program in order to guarantee its long-term viability. Leading by example, Turner himself has endowed the first permanent IOF scholarship, which he hopes may inspire others to follow suit. Meanwhile, he’ll continue to track the career journeys of IOF alumni and to tout the program’s highlights. “I am proud of what has happened with the IOF,” he says. “We are showcasing the hard work and talent of our UNH students; we are attracting companies to Paul College who previously might not have noticed us, and repeat internships with those companies are leading to permanent hires. You know, success begets success.”