Category Archives: Undergrad
By: Tavyen Williams-Jackson
This past summer I had the opportunity to intern with Bank of America as a Global Human Resources Analyst. The internship took place at the company’s corporate office in Charlotte, NC and while I was looking forward to being in a new city, I was also nervous. I had never been that far from home for an extended period of time and also had no friends in Charlotte. The first couple of weeks were an adjustment period as I tried to both navigate the city and form relationships with my colleagues.
At the time I questioned my decision to choose Charlotte for my internship but in retrospect I am thankful for everything the city taught me.
At the time I questioned my decision to choose Charlotte for my internship but in retrospect I am thankful for everything the city taught me. As mentioned before I was nervous about being in a new city, and it wasn’t until I realized the power of networking that I began to take full advantage of Charlotte. I am an ambivert by nature, so I sometimes struggle with stepping outside of my comfort zone and introducing myself to new people. However, in a new city this is one of the best and easiest ways to meet and make new friends.
I started my networking with one-on-one coffee sessions with other interns and then moved on to managers. I decided to start internally because I wanted to build a rapport with my coworkers at the Bank. Once I felt myself becoming more comfortable around those at the Bank, I began to attend multiple networking sessions a week. These networking events allowed me to meet HR professionals and find other individuals with similar interests.
Through attending these events I was also able to locate a group of dancers, which was important because I am passionate about the performing arts and lead a dance team here at GW. By the conclusion of the summer, I’d attended about 20 networking events and as a result, increased the size of my personal and business networks. Ultimately, networking proved to be a powerful tool this past summer because it allowed me to take full advantage of my internship and the city of Charlotte.
By: Scott Gardner
Searching for a job or internship is one of the most frustrating, daunting, and yet exciting adventures college students go through. Perfecting your cover letter, resume and networking skills are all vital to every ones job search and should not be overlooked. However, it’s important to keep things in perspective as you’re going through your job hunt and once you land a position. Through reviewing my resume, helping me with mock interviews, or meeting up for an informational interview, multiple people have impacted me and helped me grow as an individual.
I have come to appreciate how important it is to reciprocate and help others as much as possible. You can gain a lot through helping others and passing on knowledge you’ve acquired while on your own job search.
I believe you should help others because countless of other people have helped you. The following are three reasons to help others with their job search, while you continue to grow.
- Mock interviews are one of the best ways you can directly help another student. Throughout my time at GW I have met up with friends multiple times and we would run each other through mock interviews. This proved to be a great way for me to perfect answers to common questions such as “walk me through your resume” as well as hear another person’s perspective. Helping others with mock interviews allows you to pick up on things that you want to incorporate into your own interviewing style, as well as things that you want to make sure you leave out (such as those ‘umms’ or my favorite ‘really’).
- Helping others is also a great way to meet cool and interesting people. I really enjoy engaging with passionate and driven individuals, and speaking with others about their career goals is a great way to broaden the people you can meet while in college.
- Lastly, it feels good to be able to share the knowledge you have acquired through job searching or interning within a particular industry. There is also a quote that goes something like: “you do not truly understand something until you can teach it.” Helping others allows you to not only help someone else understand a topic, but in the process you will gain a greater understanding of the information yourself.
These are just a few reasons why you should look into helping others and sharing knowledge that others have helped you acquire. It’s important to realize that everyone has had someone help them along the way, and as we all begin our careers we should be looking to help others grow, not just ourselves.
Being a Fowler Coordinator
By: Christopher Cavalea
Two weeks ago, a student approached me after class and asked me a simple question: “What is it like being a Fowler Coordinator?” After staring blankly for a moment or two, I replied, “It’s hard to put into words.”
“What is it like being a Fowler Coordinator?”
As a Fowler Coordinator, I am on the front lines of the eternal battle between who we are as people, and who we are on paper. This battle is fought with resumes and cover letters, and is assisted by preparation and mentorship. The truth is, every student brings value, and every student deserves to be hired after graduation. Yet, when we look at the statistics, this is not the case. Students are often overlooked by recruiters, and often believe they are not deserving of the careers they desire. The primary role of a Fowler Coordinator is to reverse this thinking; to expose a student’s value, and help them communicate it to employers.
Working one-on-one with students, helping them understand the needs of employers, and humanizing the recruiting process is anything but easy. At times, it can feel like employers are speaking another language, foreign to even the worldliest linguists. However, through my experience as a coordinator, I have had the opportunity to watch students develop their strengths, and use those strengths to achieve their goals. I have had the opportunity to facilitate internal and external development, and see firsthand the difference proper instruction makes. This is where I am at a loss for words.
Being part of the Fowler Coordinator team is like being part of a highly successful sports team. Each of us, as individuals, is a thoughtful and driven professional with a passion for helping other students succeed. Yet, when we come together, we build off of each other rather than compete with one another. We generate new and innovative ideas, and learn about ourselves in the process. We work with leadership that is focused on our own needs, as well as those of the university. Unlike a sports team, “winning” is not determined by the number of balls in a net. Rather, it is the number of students who learned something new about themselves and their career path. It is the number of students who received interviews this semester who were overlooked last semester. It is the number of employers who have said, “We love GW.”
This is a position for those who want to develop their skills, those who love to teach, and those who have a passion for helping their fellow students.
The rewards for such a position are, as I have said before, hard to put into words.
The Challenges of Interning and Working Abroad
By: Abigail Howard
Living in Spain for three years as a kid, truly broadened the way I view the world. Since then, one of my main goals has been to travel, live, and study abroad as much as possible. However, until I actually went abroad to work, I never realized the unique challenges I would encounter in the workplace.
After my sophomore year at GW, I decided to search for internships in Istanbul. I had already spent a gap year intensively studying Turkish in Samsun, Turkey on a scholarship from the U.S. Department of State. I already knew the language and was able to find an internship through a personal contact. So in the summer of 2013 I sent out to work as a Corporate Communications Intern for Dogan Burda Dergi, a large magazine publishing company that is part of Dogan Holding, in the heart of Istanbul.
Interning abroad was unlike any other work experience I have had. Before securing my internship, I had to discuss basic topics such as compensation, start and end dates, and visas, which proved to be very complicated as we were in different time zones and I was speaking in a language that was not my native tongue. On my first day, the Human Resources manager, who I had been in contact with, took me to the Corporate Communications department and my manager was surprised by my arrival. She was not expecting me, so there was no work for me to do for most of the summer. Despite this, my summer was extremely educational. I focused on improving my Turkish and took advantage of every opportunity to talk with other employees. Most of my coworkers had never met an American who spoke Turkish and knew so much about their culture. We would spend our lunch break discussing differences and similarities between our backgrounds and cultures. I also read articles and every magazine the company published in order to keep up with what was going, as well as to advance my language skills. After noticing that the social media was lacking at the company, I researched what similar companies were doing and created a plan that I presented to my boss at the end of the summer. Every once in a while I would be tasked with translating newsletters from Turkish to English to increase the company’s global presence, which I enjoyed.
During that summer, I also faced challenges with the political situation in Turkey. While I was there, there were constant protests in large Turkish cities due to disagreements between citizen groups and the political power. These protests started two weeks after I arrived, and continued every weekend throughout my stay. As a result, many businesses and travel shut down on the weekends so that people could demonstrate their disapproval with the current government. A main part of my planned job was to help plan and execute events, and unfortunately the majority of the events got cancelled right after I started my internship.
My internship experience is probably not typical for Turkey, or abroad in general, but the political situation could not have been predicted and definitely required some adjustment. Still, I haven’t lost my interest in living and working abroad. Currently, I am searching for a job in Santiago, Chile and am planning to move there in July after I graduate. While I know firsthand that living and working abroad presents a whole new set of obstacles, I know it will be another incredible and rewarding experience.
You’ve Got Nothing to Lose!
By Brian McGann
Networking. For some, it is no sweat. Yet for others, it is an ever-looming event, a dreaded nightmare filled with a sequence of phone calls and cocktail hours that ultimately lead to a dead end. And I am here to tell you, that it is okay. You’ve got nothing to lose.
Those five words are the ones I wish I heard early on in my college career, right when I began cold calling strangers, sending email after email, and going to different networking events with the hope of making a connection with an employer. However, now I see it as a great lesson and am glad I learned it on my own. Networking can be unsettling, and it is very normal to be nervous. One thing that helps is to realize that you have little to lose in these situations, especially as an undergraduate student. Only good can come from networking, and even if you have a less than ideal experience or encounter, you just need to brush it off and move on. Go forward with that in mind, and it relieves some of the tension that accompanies networking.
Networking is not easy. It takes patience, determination, and certain strength of character to move on after continued failure. It is important to first understand what one is getting into when beginning their networking endeavor. You will make phone calls and send emails, the majority of which are going to go unanswered. You will finally get that referral you’ve been putting in all this work for, and it will still lead nowhere. The biggest realization a college student needs to make is that you are going to hit plenty of dead ends while networking. And the biggest challenge is having the courage to continue on and overcome them.
My best advice is to start early.
My best advice is to start early. I started networking for my summer internship in August 2013, and did not accept my offer until February 2014. Think of anyone who you could learn from, and then see if they know anyone you could learn from. Create an Excel document to track your network, and update it so you can follow up accordingly. Start with friends, family, and move onto alumni from high school and college.
I cold called over 15 GW and high school alumni, sent hundreds of emails, and had multiple informational interviews with over 10 contacts. I wrote 27 cover letters, applied to over 20 firms, and I only interviewed at 5 of them. Yet it only took one great connection to help me land my summer internship. It is going to be hard, it is going to be frustrating, but, after all, you have everything to gain.
How Studying Abroad Can Change You For the Better
By Lauran Steagal
I grew up in a relatively small town in North Carolina, and because of this I wasn’t exposed to many different types of people. Almost everyone I came in contact with was just like me, and it was rare for someone to vary from the norm. Because of this, I wasn’t aware of the incredible variety of cultures, people, and lifestyles that exist in the world. When I came to school in D.C., I realized exactly what I was missing out on. And I soon came to the realization that if I wanted to fully understand other cultures, I would have to get out there and experience as much as I could. Because of this, I made it a priority to spend some time outside of mycomfort zone.
Last summer, I had one of the best experiences of my life living and studying in Madrid, Spain. I was exposed to things I had never seen before, and got to interact with people who were raised to think differently than me. Overall, this experience broadened my horizons in a way that was originally unimaginable to me, and allowed me to truly discover myself. Because I studied abroad, I changed for the better and now I feel more comfortable with my decisions regarding my future career.
When you study abroad, you learn to step out of your comfort zone. You are surrounded by new people and new places, and because of this you learn to be independent and comfortable in your own skin. Once you learn to trust yourself, you will never again question your ability to survive in unfamiliar situations, such as moving to a new city for a job. Additionally, when you study abroad you learn to think in a new and exciting way. Each country has a distinct national identity, and these identities can vary widely across countries. Wherever you end up working, it is likely that you will be exposed to people who were raised differently than you. If you have previously been exposed to people from different backgrounds, you will be better equipped to work with your new colleagues.
Lastly, studying abroad teaches you to live each day to the fullest. Every day is a new experience that teaches you something unique. When studying abroad, you learn to expect the unexpected and things that once seemed life-ending no longer seem to matter as much. This newfound ability to take experiences that used to scare you and use them to learn something about yourself instead allows you to grow as a person. You will be more mature, and better able to take on any challenge your career can throw at you.
Overall, while studying abroad you not only learn more about yourself and your job preferences, but also learn a couple things that will serve you tirelessly throughout your entire career. You know that whatever life may throw at you in terms of your career, you will be able to step up and you will be ready for it.
More than my BBA
By: Michelle Furnari
As a passionate and driven student, I often feel that this is my only identity. When someone asks me to tell them about myself, my immediate thought is to reply with my degree, career plans and aspirations for my next potential internship or job. Although this is an incredibly large part of who I am, it is not all that I am. I believe that as business students we tend to capitalize on our major and believe that it is who we are and who we will be for the rest of our lives. I encourage you to stray away from this immediate and impulsive connection to your college degree.
This is not to discourage you from pursuing your field of study, but rather to encourage you to keep an open mind when considering your future. Many professionals will tell you they did not expect to be working in the industry or position that they currently hold. It is important to keep this in mind while searching for jobs and internships. Do not restrict yourself to your concentration if you have other interests that you would like to pursue. For example, as an Event Management concentration, I am considering jobs in marketing, operations and human resources.
The next time you are asked about yourself, consider including more than your degree in your response. You are more than your BBA, and I encourage you to keep an open mind in your job and internship search. I have encountered many students who believe they know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives. I believe that although some students may feel this way, the majority of students are less sure of their career path and may not know what they want to do for an internship or job after graduation. I am among the group of students that is unsure of what my career path has in store for me. I do not know what I want to do but I do believe I am never going to know exactly what will be the next step in my career path.
By: Rich Sneider
“It was a great résumé builder.” Too often I hear this phrase when I walk around Duques. I get it. Everyone is preparing for a job after graduation, and I appreciate that so many students are willing to spend their last free summers working hard. That ethic is a cornerstone of the success that we as a Business School have achieved over the years.
What worries me is that it seems that some students believe that enjoying your work and building your résumé are two mutually exclusive ideas. The old adage of “do what makes you happy and you will never work a day in your life” should be your driving force in every stage of your career search, even the internships. Internships should be samplers of different jobs that you are considering for after graduation. So if you are not enjoying it now, why would you consider doing it as a career?
Beyond that, if you are not enjoying what you are doing ,then you are probably not working to your full potential on the job. Studies done by the New York Times, Forbes, and countless HR and psychology authors have shown that employees who like their jobs work harder. If the purpose of taking a position is to look good on a résumé, you are better off finding something you love to do and excelling at it. Additionally, the more excited you are when describing a previous work experience in an interview the better off you are going to be. Employers do not want to hear that you only took a job to work your way into their HR office. They want to know that you are the type of person who can come into work smiling, eager and committed to your work.
You should look back at your time at GW with fondness, and having an enjoyable internship that helped you get a great job is a key component of those memories.
Two weeks deep in French culture and cuisine is bound to make any girl dizzy in love (or at least just nauseated from a café and croissant overload). As a business student who usually finds herself locked in the Capital Markets room or settled in at her daily post as an intern, a semester in Paris is nearly the opposite of what I am accustomed to in Foggy Bottom. Instead of frequenting Whole Foods or the Deli in between classes for a quick recharge, I find myself actually sitting down to enjoy a (much smaller) cup of coffee that comes without a lid. This change of pace (and portion) has definitely taken a bit to get used to but I find that it forces me to be confronted with the task at hand rather than rushing towards the next “to do” on my list.
Because I am pursuing a BS in Finance, with a double major in Economics, I was not completely sure I would be able to fit this amazing opportunity into my already jam packed schedule. With quite a bit of research and planning ahead, however, it was more than manageable to coordinate the classes I needed to count for credit at home. The American University of Paris offers a multitude of Economics and Business courses that cross over nicely into the GW curriculum, making my decision to jump across the pond even easier.
The orientation program at the school lasts for a full week and has been a great asset to my new life in Paris. Topics covered in the programming included where to find the best grocery stores and pharmacies, which neighborhoods to frequent at night, how to stay safe in the city, and how to adapt overall to French culture. At AUP there are bunches of visiting students, many of which are from the states! Although I expected to meet quite a few more French locals, it has been just as enriching to meet students from other campuses across the U.S. and even students from GW whose social circles hadn’t necessarily crossed with mine in D.C. in the past. Connecting with these students has allowed me to solidify my goals for my semester abroad through hearing their personal passions and perspectives. Getting to know so many new people at once has brought me back to memories of my first days on GW’s campus and I feel as if I am a freshman again learning even more about myself.
One of my favorite things in Paris so far has been my close proximity to countless incredible museums and monuments. At a decent price with my student status, I have been lucky enough to attend quite a few classic sights that Paris claims as its own. Some highlights have been visits to Musée d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, Cathédrale Notre Dame, Les Invalides, and l’Arc de Triomphe as well as a night cruise on the Seine, a stroll along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, and a walk around Montmartre, just to name a few.
As I begin to get deeper invested in my courses, I am making it a goal to become closely involved with University life as well. I am currently a proud member of the Green Initiative on campus, the Yoga Club, the Wine Society and a Volunteer Tutoring group, which assists Parisian Kindergarteners with their English skills.
Although Paris is a much different city than Washington D.C. there are still numerous ways to make this foreign place feel like home and I plan to do my best to assimilate and find enrichment in as many outlets as possible during the next 4 months here. By the end of the semester I hope to feel a bit less of a tourist than I do now with many more memories and friendships than I came with.
Hayley Purcell is a Junior in GWSB pursuing a BS in Finance degree with double majors in Finance & Economics. She is currently abroad through GW’s exchange program with American University of Paris in Paris, France.
Going the Extra Mile
By: Amanda Harlor
I’ve found that there is a lot of emphasis on how to land a great internship. We learn about it in class, we get advice on how to get an internship from our older peers, and we attend panels on the subject. All of this information is extremely important, and hopefully you will be able to successfully leverage what you’ve learned and accept an internship offer at your dream company.
But now what? There is a lot less information and education on what to do to make the most out of your summer internship. How do I ensure that I am maximizing my professional development over the summer? How do I learn more about other positions in the industry and/or at the firm? How do I build and manage a network? And, highest on most students’ lists, how do I turn this internship into a full-time job offer?
I’ve been really fortunate to have had the opportunity to be an intern several different times, and I have friends that have had even cooler experiences. I’ve compiled a list, based on my own experiences and the experiences of fellow students, of best practices for how to get the most out of your summer internship.
- Network: It is so important to go beyond your desk and really get to know the people you are working with. Not only is this the best way to find out more about the company you are at, but it is essential for your professional development. I’d suggest using an Excel spreadsheet as a tracker; after you meet with someone, immediately record who they are, what they do, and what you talked about. This will help you stay organized and make it much easier to manage the connections you make, especially if you are meeting with a lot of people.
- Go above and beyond your manager’s expectations: It is not enough to show up to work, do your assigned tasks, and leave. This robs you of the chance to really show your team members what you are capable of. So show some intellectual curiosity and make sure you understand why you are doing the projects you’re doing. Ask what is the relevance of the project? Why do we do this a certain way? Is there a better way to do this? How does my project benefit my team and the company as a whole? I’ve found that managers are usually really impressed by interns that show real interest in their projects, and if you can find a way to improve the process, that is even better.
- Get to know the other interns: If you are in a program with other interns, take the time to get to know them. They are a great resource to ask your “stupid” questions to, and potentially could be your future co-workers.
- Ask a ton of questions: As I mentioned before, intellectual curiosity is a great trait to have, and it will really help you stand out. Be as inquisitive as possible (but not so much so that you become a nuisance), and make it known that you have a genuine interest in the industry.
- Stay connected: After you’ve finished your summer, be sure to give your personal email to any key contacts that you’d like to stay in touch with. Re- connect periodically with people you met over the summer; update them on what you are up to, and show an interest in what they’ve been doing since you left. This is especially important if you want to return to the firm for another internship or a full-time position. More than likely these will be the people that will help you secure that next job, so be sure to stay in touch!
These tips are not hard and fast; different firms are going to have different cultures and protocols. But all of these guidelines boil down to one idea: Go the extra mile. Go above and beyond whenever possible in every aspect of your internship, and you will be setting yourself up for success beyond the summer.