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2011 Summer Internship Testimony

Several SI students were asked to share about their summer internship experience for the SI-Career Development Blog. Below is one student's shared experience:

In the first week of the winter semester, I saw on the school’s website that the Engineering career fair was approaching. I decided that I will attend this fair. I wasn’t sure on how to prepare for the fair. I knew I had to wear business formals since I have seen students wear them for the previous fair. I promptly bought a suit. I called up a few seniors and asked them for tips. The first thing they said is prepare your one minute pitch. I started preparing for the fair a few days before the fair. I got a list of firms that were coming and started reading their description and what qualities they were looking for in a student. However, there were no firms that were specifically looking for SI students. I looked up their website and saw if they had any positions that were relevant to my background. I prepared my one minute pitch. Revised it a few times and practiced in front of the mirror. On the day of the fair, I was overwhelmed by the number of students. I wanted to seem confident but not over confident. There was on specific representative of an organization I talked to told me that they don’t sponsor International students. I then realized that I had to approach firms that hired International students. But the way the firms were arranged was quite random. Then I heard that the CS and EECS building had the firms that were hiring students with computer science background. It made sense to go there first. So I started from there.

The organization where I interned in the summer was there in the career fair and dropped my resume at their table too. It was very hard for me to understand their business. After a few days I was called for an Interview and they gave me some topics to prepare on. I can recall the Executive assistant who made that call telling me that “I am trying to fit in all six of them”. I was quite nervous that I had to interview with six people. When I was preparing for the interview, it was very hard for me to understand who the nature of their business since when I went to their website it took me to customer facing side of the site and the about us section was not updated. The interview went on for almost 2 hours. I was called a few weeks later and was given an offer and I accepted it.

The first few weeks at the internship, I had to understand all the products and services of the firm and also understand every employee’s roles and responsibilities. It was a great way of getting to know people at the firm. I felt the firm is unique in the Industry; it provides support for Dealers to have an online presence since buyers spend a lot of time on the internet researching cars, car prices, etc. My role was not so much dealer facing but rather involves a lot of vendor relationship and also communicating with different consolidated subsidiaries of the organization. Half-way through my internship, I was asked to present on my work so far to the Executive team. This meeting is one of the most important meetings in the organization. The product development team will present their work and there are a lot of questions on the assumptions and other parts of the work. After some discussion around the presentation, the Executive team decides on whether the product needs to move forward or shelved. I was very nervous about this presentation. I sat with my mentor and my supervisor to get tips on what are the things that I need to cover. My supervisor asked me to sit in one of those presentations the previous week and I got a gist of what are the things that needs to be covered and also I now knew what questions I can expect. After my presentation, there was some positive response although I was faced with a lot of questions and comments. I felt good when a lot of people came to my cubicle later and told me that I did a good job. My supervisor wanted the project to move faster and so did I but there were a few roadblocks that I did not have control over. Although it slowed down the pace at which the project was moving, it gave me a great learning experience on how to deal with such situations if faced again.

The organization had a good balance of work and play. I should give credit to my HR. She planned a lot of events and fun outings for the team to keep up the excitement. The organization went through some structural changes and a new mission, vision statement was coined by the executive team. At the end of my internship, I was offered a Co-op and I accepted it. My internship has played a very important role in my career plans. I got very attached to the firm for several reasons. One is because they gave me an opportunity to lead the project which I think it pretty significant decision, especially for this project as it involves a lot of interaction with the partners. It shows that they have a lot of trust in my work and I wanted to keep up the same. During my performance appraisal, I learned from my supervisor that I exceeded expectations when it comes to taking initiatives. I met all other expectations. I try to think back on how I could have exceeded expectations in other factors and I am constantly soliciting feedback from my supervisor and my mentor. The other thing is that all my colleagues interact with each other as if it like one big happy family. The organizational culture and work environment is very important to be able to produce effective results. The organization is flexible but yet fast-paced. They also give employees to venture new things that employees are passionate about and incorporate employee’s feedback seriously. My internship experience has given me the platform to improve my understanding of Market research and Business Intelligence in the Industry.

Posted by kkowatch at October 15, 2011 10:19 PM

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