If you think the search for the perfect career starts in the last year of your degree plan, you couldn’t be more wrong.
The early bird gets the worm, and the early #UHBauer student gets the internship, the connections and eventually, the dream job. Resources like career counseling from the college’s Rockwell Career Center, along with networking events from student orgs and specialty programs, are designed to connect students to employers.
#UHBauer Social Team member Laiba Khan, a MIS sophomore, helped us with today’s blog post that highlights three #UHBauer students getting an early start on career prep.
MIS and Accounting Sophomore
Audit Analytics Co-op Intern, Spring 2019
I started/decided to recruit with this company beginning Fall 2018. After applying and being interviewed, I was contacted about my offer about four weeks later. My interview was mostly comprised of behavioral questions and some technical question on accounting basics.I think that something that helps make you stand out is what you do with what you learn at school. Especially with Exxon, they like to see students take initiative. Ask yourself, “What can I do to take what you learn outside the parameters of class and the coursework?”
I had started to learn to code Python and created a GitHub with small projects. Even if it’s small, I think it shows a lot about your passion for your studying. I wish I would’ve known that reaching out to people is completely acceptable and is not being creepy and is in fact quite impressive. I feel like I was always awkward reaching out to people for coffee or lunch to talk about their jobs, or if you have any specific questions about their career. I think I was always scared that I would be wasting the professional’s time by not having anything steadfast to discuss. But I learned that it’s a very good way to not only network, but understand what working in that company or even profession looks like, so you can make better informed decisions about your own career.
Something that was really helpful was realizing that it’s important for people to see you time and time again. So, make sure to meet the employees every time they’re on campus, and that way they know how interested you really are. Another very important item is to reflect on your experiences. Leadership opportunities, leadership conferences, internships, co-ops are all great, but if you are not taking time to reflect on them, they don’t contribute much. After every conference or internship, think about what you liked, didn’t like, or what kind of work did you do, how was the culture, etc. Reflecting is going to help you understand what you’re looking for in your career!
Also, just relax and realize that there is no formula for recruiting, it’s not a cookie-cutter process, and it will be different for everyone!I was on a dance team for the first year of my college career, and I love talking about it, one, because I absolutely love dancing and can talk forever about that, and two, because it is a great experience to elaborate on teamwork. Typically, when we are asked questions about working in a team, we tend to resort to group projects (which is still a great example), but this is just something different.
Accounting and Finance Freshman
MassMutual Texas Gulf Coast
Intern, Summer 2019
Directly following my completion of final exams in May, my internship will begin. So, in the days following the end of my spring semester, I will sign a 120-day contract to officially begin my internship. The role will consist of shadowing a Managing Associate, Antonio Acosta, learning the ins and outs of financial planning, as well as sales.
My process was actually quite unique. I first met the recruiting director and the managing associate at a Bauer Honors Career Mixer on October 5, 2018, and then a second time on October 24. At that second meeting after networking with Antonio for around 10 minutes and expressing interest in an opportunity with MassMutual, he put his number in my phone and the next morning sent me a text inviting me to the office on October 29. I immediately began going through all the usual interview prep steps. It went amazing and then a little under three months later, I received my official offer from the company. Of course, I tried my best to keep in contact with Antonio at least every two weeks. In my first interview I was asked only three questions. Why I am interested in an internship with MassMutual? What would I bring to the company? And, if I have any questions for him. Keep in mind at this point, Antonio and I have already built a solid relationship, so he already knew my personality pretty well. However, after those three questions I had to fill the rest of the hour with my own questions — an experience I was not entirely prepared for but something I was able to do fairly well in.
I found that admitting that I am a freshman that has no experience in the role I was interviewing for and gladly offering to shadow instead of seeking an independent role with little guidance was extremely beneficial. My manager found me as a young, passionate student with a lot of potential and being able to humble myself was a major key to securing the offer.
I wish I networked with other members of the company. Currently I know about five others when there are so many others I could have met and connected with. Earlier I mentioned humbling yourself during your recruitment process, however, I would highly recommend finding a way to exude passion and confidence. If you are not used to doing that definitely start to practice. Of course, don’t go over the top with the passion as it has to be genuine and organic, and the same goes for confidence.
Tax Intern, Summer 2020
I first applied to the PwC Explore day, which is essentially a company visit where you get to explore how you would fit in with the culture. About a week later, I was contacted by the recruiter who sent me several different opportunities that I was eligible for. I applied in late February 2019 through their website.
I heard back about an interview in early March and received my offer during Spring Break. The night before the interview, we had a pre-interview dinner. This was essentially a time to get to know your interviewers and network with current interns and associates. Unfortunately, neither of my interviewers were at dinner. If they were, this would have been the best time to make a good impression and break the ice. Just remember to be friendly and be genuine.
The actual interview consisted of two back-to-back 30-minute interviews. Both of mine were very conversational with a couple of behavioral questions thrown in. I think the best thing to do is to remember that the interview is a conversation. It’s really hard to remember because of course, you’re so stressed about doing well, but I really think it makes all the difference. For example, while my interviewer was talking about his career, he mentioned how he traveled during his first big project. I asked him about the cities he had traveled to and we ended up having a mini-conversation about a city we had both been too. Even though this didn’t really pertain to the interview, I think it helped establish a personal connection that could be built upon.
Another thing that I think consistently makes me stand out in an interview process is that I am doing a minor in Phronesis (politics and ethics). I chose this minor because I genuinely love the topic and classes. In every interview, I people have asked me about it. That is not to say that I believe everyone needs a minor. I think what makes it stand out is that it’s something different and something I am truly passionate about. So, when interviewers ask me about it, they see that although I love business, I also take time to further my passions.
I think one thing that I wish I had done differently was to practice more beforehand. As silly as that sounds, I now know that it was something that was necessary for me personally. I didn’t want to practice beforehand because I didn’t want to sound rehearsed, but if I had even a little bit, I believe my answers to the behavioral questions would have been stronger. I think that recruiting season as a whole is pretty stressful. It’s back-to-back interviewing and constantly trying to make yourself stand out.
One thing that made it easier for me was the idea of building a “personal brand”. I remember when I first heard about the concept, I didn’t really get why it was useful until I started recruiting. Before my first interview, I came up with three different stories to apply to all questions. One to answer the “tell me about yourself” questions, one to use for a strengths/weakness question and one to talk about a challenge or conflict I overcame. Then when it came to interviews I would just tweak them a little bit to the company and I think that took a lot of stress off of me. My favorite answers to this are either traveling or trying new restaurants. Not that original, I know, but relatable enough to where it helps the conversation. I always try to weave in some skill that I know they are looking for. For example, communication is always important to companies, so I talk about how traveling has helped me understand different cultures and the importance of cross-cultural communication.
MIS and Finance Sophomore
Risk Advisory Program Intern, Fall 2019
During my freshman year, I only knew about EY as an accounting firm. After constantly interacting with the firm during recruiting events and socials, I was strongly drawn to their technology sector. I applied for the Risk Advisory position through their online application followed by a virtual interview in September 2018. For my final round of interviews, they flew me into their Dallas office where they assigned each candidate an “EY Buddy” and gave us a tour of their Cyber Center. My first on-sight interview was behavioral, but my second interview consisted of a case study. I had gone through several behavioral interviews at this point in time, but I had never presented a case study during a corporate interview. I took two cases from the internet and practiced by using the same time constraints for preparation and presentation as the real interview. I approached people in my network for advice who had successfully completed case studies for interviews before. I had experience with on-the-spot case assessments and role-plays through my officer position in Phi Beta Lambda and two case competitions during my freshman year at Bauer. However, because the stakes were so high, I’d say my case study at EY was the hardest one yet.
Never underestimate the power of asking for advice; you’d be surprised to see how many people are out there ready to help you by drawing from their previous experiences. Be sure to respect their time by mindfully applying their advice, thank them later and keep them updated with your progress and achievements. At the same time, make sure to develop your own sense of logic, standard, and values. Evaluate your decisions with your own gauge instead of solely basing it off of external influence. Everyone’s experience is different, and everyone faces their fair share of achievements and setbacks. Learn from your own and other people’s mistakes. It is important to seek advice; it is equally important to follow that advice with your eyes wide open instead of blind faith.
I try my best to draw from multiple experiences while addressing behavioral questions and not repeat any instances. It keeps the conversation interesting for both the interviewer and I. Be sure to answer questions very precisely. Use your time wisely and mention one example with great organization and relevance instead of multiple fuzzy ones or one with too many details that are not relevant to the interviewer. Have 3-4 behavioral stories in your mind; you can usually break and play around with them with pretty much every behavioral question. Don’t give out everything you have in the first question because you’ll run out of behavioral stories for other questions and sound repetitive.
- Have your résumé in front of you
- Know your strengths and weaknesses and be ready to talk about them with examples
- Try your best to find out who your interviewer is and look them up on LinkedIn
I made my LinkedIn during junior year of high school and I had no idea at that time how useful and integral it would be to me in college. Use your LinkedIn as a portfolio of your achievements and update it every time you accomplish something because you won’t remember the details a couple years down the road like you do the day of.
Current freshman, sophomores, juniors, PLEASE make use of leadership programs!! It is the best way to meet professionals that are currently practicing what you hope to pursue. These programs also helped me meet likeminded students from all across the world. These programs can built up your résumé and teach you what to expect in the given field. Not to mention, leadership programs are usually all expense paid, involve traveling and interesting activities, help you learn more about yourself as well as the company, and bring together very interesting people from all walks of life in one place!
While talking about my activities outside of school, I almost always end up talking about traveling. Traveling is a huge priority in my life and I really enjoy learning about what someone else got out of their experience from the same places that I visited. It makes the interview more conversational and helps both sides learn about each other outside of what’s listed on the résumé. I also like to bring up anything I recently learned regarding technology or social media, and what I am currently reading or writing about regarding the intersectionality of law, business, and technology. Overall, just know the person interviewing you is just as much of a human as you are. Stay natural and be confident in who you are. They don’t expect interns to know everything about the job, but they do expect a candidate to clearly communicate why they are interested in the company.
Finance and Risk Intern, Summer 2018
I started college as a Finance major not knowing that I wanted to do specifically in Finance. I went to networking events with banks, tech companies, and even Big Four Accounting firms. After two years, I added my economic minor to diversify my skillset. I knew that I really enjoyed learning about economics and the minor went particularly well with my Finance background.
The summer after my sophomore year, I interviewed for an internship at Calpine, an oil and gas company in Downtown Houston. My mother knew the person I would be working with and she helped me get my résumé on the table. After a few rounds of interviews, they chose me to be a full-time intern in their Trade Compliance department, something I knew nothing about. When the internship ended, I had fallen in love with the oil and gas industry and I knew that I needed to become more knowledgeable about the industry if I wanted to work there again.
I decided to pick up another minor: Energy & Sustainability. In the spring, I applied to every oil and gas company that was offering internships in Finance. BP was the first to get back to me and I went through multiple rounds of interviews before accepting the internship. These interviews were more intimidating and more rigorous than anything else that I had done before. They flew candidate down from all over the U.S. and from prestigious Ivy League schools to stay near the BP campus.
The interview day started early with tours and individual case studies. Because of my minor in E&S, I felt more prepared and ready to talk about the energy industry and I feel that this set me apart from students from more prestigious universities. I used me leadership skills to command the room in group case studies and my personality was the star. I understood that people with higher GPA’s were competing against me, however, I also knew that my soft skills and hard work were what set me apart from others.
After this internship, I was offered a full-time job at BP in their Finance and Risk department. I will be starting later next June. I was not expected to know anything in particular about the energy industry, however, it was extremely helpful. My case studies were more about dealing with the problem rather than knowing the technicalities of the problem. In the group case study, I did not want to be too aggressive, but I did not want to be overseen by others. I presented to the interviewers with confidence and it showed as the others were nervous and tried to be too aggressive.
I did not really take a traditional approach in getting my internships. While I went to mixers and events through Bauer Honors in my freshman and sophomore years, I got my BP internship by applying through LinkedIn. I learned early on that people with real leadership skills are attractive candidates. On my résumé, I always made sure to have my leadership experience front and center. Even my Presidency over Bleacher Creatures sparked interviewer’s attention and became a hot topic of interest.
Other than that, I stayed humble and ready to learn, something that many students feel like they can neglect. I made it clear in interviews that I wasn’t by any means perfect, but I would work hard to learn everything while interning. I would recommend learning about the company extensively before interviewing. It always looks good when you can pepper in new acquisitions or news about the company during the interview. I was also interested in investing stocks and in my Calpine interview, my interviewer actually asked me to give him recommendations on hot stocks to buy.
One morning while working at BP, the interns had brunch with the CEO of the midstream operations. We quickly learned how humble he was and said that he treats the executives the same as he treats the maintenance and janitors. This struck me and left me always being humble. People notice this and will always value you and be there to help you.
It is important to note that interviews are as much as them interviewing you as you are interviewing them. It is so important to know the company culture and to really like the personality of the company before working there. Working somewhere toxic will only do you and the team you are working with harm. Lastly, most interviews are just the interviewer seeing if they like you. 90% of your intern knowledge will come from actually interning so coming off as intelligent is important in the interviews, however, it’s not the first thing they look for.
I’ve learned that at the end of the day, you’ll learn what you need to learn, but you can’t change someone from having a negative attitude or a bad personality. I interned with some of the smartest people and most qualified candidates, but at the end of the internship, they were not the ones to get full time offers. They were mean and condescending while the rest of us were the kind of people you would want to hang out with after work.