At our third alumnae event this semester, we got to hear from five former WIB members. The panel was made up of Brittany Goode, Siovonne Persaud, Chamandeep Kaur, Cuiyu Wu, and Andrea Gorotiza. These accomplished women come from a variety of backgrounds including finance, entrepreneurship, accounting, and media and advertising. The diversity of the panel provided as a great resource of information and experiences.
As expected of an internship panel, the panelists began by discussing their first internship experiences and what they learned from that opportunity. There was a big difference in experiences between the women who already knew what career path they were pursuing and those that did not. For example, Chamandeep was unsure of what she wanted to be and her first internship was at an economic research company. She says that the valuable experience that her first internship provided taught her that she did not want a career in economic research. On the other hand, Andrea always knew she wanted to be a talent agent. Her first internship taught her about what she wants and does not want in a career. She was able to see whether a larger or smaller environment suited her better. Both women agree that you need to figure out whether an internship is right for YOU.
The panelists then discussed how and when to search for an internship. All five ladies agreed that it’s better to begin looking as early as possible. They cite Baruch’s resources as a major help to their finding internship opportunities. If you need help with your internship search, the STARR career center is very helpful tool. In addition, the panelists encourage you to reach out to people you know or alumni to inquire about opportunities they may know of.
Once you have found an internship that interests you, the next step is to apply, and hopefully, be chosen for the position. While an updated resume is always important, networking is another valuable tool. Networking is really important for making a good impression on recruiters. Siovonne and Cuiyu believe that in order to master your networking skills, you have to practice and be prepared. They encourage you to do research on the company and recruiter you plan to talk to. Also, you should have multiple questions prepared. You want to be able to deliver a personal pitch before continuing on to more technical and personal questions. To stand out, it is important to connect to others on a personal level. For example, Andrea researched a recruiter and read his blog before speaking to him. She even quoted what he wrote on his blog, which sparked a connection between them. Brittany found an internship she was interested in and messaged a recruiter from that company on LinkedIn. She was also able to make a connection with others that contributed to her landing that internship. The panelists agree that you should only network with others or attend networking events that you are really interested in. Your enthusiasm and excitement will show and lead to a better networking experience. Otherwise, networking will always feel forced and uncomfortable.
The panelists were then asked how they would react if they had made a mistake during their internship. The ladies responded that it is best to take responsibility for the mistake and be proactive. You should go to your manager with a plan of how to fix the mistake to show that you are a reliable person. They emphasized that it is important to learn from that mistake and make sure it never happens again. Mistakes do occur, but it is the actions that you take after that matter most.
Finally, the panelists discussed ways to differentiate yourself during an internship. They recommend that you learn your job really well and master it. Showing that you want to learn and help out by jumping on many projects can also help you differentiate yourself. The panelists explain that you do not want to be that person who always gets to work on time and leaves right when work ends. To show your interest and willingness to learn, sometimes, you need to get to work early and leave later. The panelists explain that it is important to treat any internship like a real job because you never know whether it may lead to a full-time offer. Siovonne explains that if you are interested in a full-time position, you should take initiative and discuss career development with your manager. Do not assume that your manager already knows you are interested in an offer.
Throughout the panel, the ladies discussed how valuable their experience as a WIB member was. Their leadership roles prepared them for their internships. Being WIB members also allowed them to hear about opportunities and network with recruiters from companies that interested them. The panelists remind us that being a WIB member is always a form of experience that you could cite when being considered for an internship. Hopefully, the insight provided by our alumnae will help you land that opportunity you have been dreaming of.