Learning by Example: Students get Internship-Savvy
By Leila Kojouri
You shouldn’t wait until after graduation to get your foot in the professional door, according to interns at the First Annual Smeal Internship Night.
Six interns and current Smeal College of Business students gave first-hand insight into their professional and academic experiences before a packed house at the Nittany Lion Inn on Tuesday.
Blaine Hauser, a senior majoring in Finance, interned at Goldman Sachs as an investment banking analyst last summer - his fourth experience working in the corporate realm.
“I learned a lot when I was there,” said Hauser. “It was very intense, the hours were long…you get to learn so much in a very short time period."
He said he felt fortunate to work on the “Freddie Mac deal” in recapitalizing their business and with the Goldman mortgage team to value Wachovia’s $200 billion commercial loan portfolio.
“I got to work on a lot of the biggest financial institution transactions… I was kind of at the forefront of what was going on at Wall Street this summer,” Hauser said. “It was very interesting."
Hauser urged that students need to get involved early in their college career and they shouldn’t hesitate in searching for internships.
“Get involved and get out to the career relations office,” Hauser said.
Assistant Director of Career and Corporate Services Meg Handley said she was very pleased that interns emphasized the importance of utilizing the career and corporate services office.
“I think it was huge success,” she said. “More than half [the audience] were freshman and sophomores; it’s great that they heard exactly what they need to do to be successful.”
“We had a little more than 200 people that came and saw six different presentations on our internship program,” she said.
Roni Francke, student affairs specialist for career and corporate services, said “We’re really trying to get the word out there about how important internships and co-ops are.”
First-year student Steve Brunson, majoring in business administration, said he learned that there are a lot of opportunities and the means to access them.
“It’s not about just opening the door - it’s about stepping through it,” said Brunson.
Brunson said he liked that interns encouraged excellence in academics.
“They remind you that even though you’re getting out there and joining a lot of clubs you have to keep up your GPA; you can’t forget about your studies,” he said.
Robert “RJ” Cilley, a senior majoring in management, worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers as a consulting intern and emphasized the importance of coursework.
He said, “The first thing students need to do is maximize their GPA…its one of the metrics that recruiters measure.”
The second thing, he said, is that students need to get involved in campus activities, attaining a substantial role in a club, like treasurer or secretary.
“Companies will ask themselves ‘How will this person add value to our company?’ and they’ll see this in what you’ve done at Penn State,” said Cilley.
Christina Round, a sophomore majoring in supply chain and information systems, worked as a procurement intern with ExxonMobil and as a co-op with Johnson & Johnson as a distribution intern.
Round said she hoped students learned the career options and opportunities that Penn State provides.
“When I first started I didn’t really have anybody telling me ‘This is what you should do,’” she said. “There are people out there willing to help students be the best they can be.”
“I definitely hope they got tips for success,” said Round.
She added that she also tries to help students in the career search process, by reviewing resumes and scheduling mock interviews.
Chris Hayek, professional chair of Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity and coordinator for the event, said he was pleased with the volume of the turnout.
“I’m really excited to see that people took advantage of this opportunity,” said Hayek. “We had a lot of student support in addition to faculty support; a lot of professors were behind us and supporting us in this.”
Katie Kozac, a first-year student majoring in business management, said the presentation got her thinking far down the road and into her future.
“These were kind of like words of wisdom,” said Kozac. “I have to evaluate where I am and where I see myself in the next couple of years, landing a position that I’m actually going to enjoy for the rest of my life.”