October 25, 2013

The Do's and Don'ts of Internship Search

On the first day of orientation, you hear that you’re already behind on your internship search, and you’d better get to it if you plan on doing anything other than binge watch Breaking Bad between May and September. While that might be a little panic inducing, it’s true: positions are limited, and the applicant pool looks like a salmon farm.

My internship search was riddled with mistakes, but I managed to find a position that has expanded and refined the knowledge base I had been building during my time in the MSM Finance program. I’m working with BioEnterprise, a non-profit in Cleveland that is focused on growing small bio medical companies and commercializing bio science technologies. I spend a lot of my time building financial models for start-ups, compiling reports on venture funding in the healthcare space, and conducting market research on everything from atrial fibrillation to pet oral care.

I had initially heard about BioEnterprise at the Great Lakes Venture Fair from one of their CEOs-in-Residence; her story was inspiring and her enthusiasm infectious—so much so that I forgot to ask for her business card and her name. When I heard about BioEnterprise during a class presentation several months later, I asked one of my professors if he could connect me with anyone at the company. He introduced me to the internship director via email, and I began working as a Business Development Associate two weeks later.

I was pretty shocked that the process was so seamless: I’d requested introductions from dozens of connections I’d made during my first few months at Weatherhead, and while many of those requests resulted in a conversation over coffee or lunch, only three led to potential internship offers. I don’t think my experience was atypical, and I’d guess that many students would credit at least one internship or job offer to vigorous networking.

If I had to do it all over again, I’d try to eliminate a few errors, like not forgetting to ask for business cards, of course—or forgetting which person corresponded to the card I did get. I've also gathered that phone calls on Monday mornings are ill-received, and Friday afternoon emails are never answered.

Meghan Finneran
Meghan is a second year MSM Finance student with a corporate finance emphasis. She is currently interning at BioEnterprise.

October 18, 2013

Top Tips to Get You Ready for Interviews

It’s recruiting season …are you interview-ready?

Believe it or not, many companies are preparing for their summer internship and FT needs. As many of you already know, companies don’t work around your midterm schedule or when a big project is due. Hopefully you've already found some strategies to carve out time to focus on your career search (identifying companies and industries of interest, contacting alumni and applying online.) If a company is interested in you, they may only give you a 1-2 days of notice for an interview. And if that happens, we want you to be prepared!

Many times, students come into the Career Management Office with a job description and say, “Help me! I have an interview and I don’t know how to prepare.” The interview is the company’s chance to assess your fit with the organization, communication skills and technical abilities. So here are some general tips to get you interview-ready!

1.       Research the company and position. Showcase your specific interest in their company. If you can articulate the connection between you and the company; you become a stronger candidate because it showcases what draws you to that specific company.
2.       Talk with your connections to learn about company culture and insights on the interview process. Err on the side of being more professional.
3.       Take a deep breath and stay positive. When people are nervous, they tend to be a bit quieter and more reserved. Smile, make eye contact and say your name confidently.
4.       Use the job description to determine the types of questions they will ask. Does the job description have technical requirements? What are the top 3 listed responsibilities?

There are 4 categories of questions to prepare:
1.       Background/Resume questions. Know your resume inside and out. Anything on your resume is fair game and you should be prepared to explain and talk about any part of it. (Tell me about yourself.)
2.       Behavioral based questions are when the interviewer will use your past experiences as an indicator of your future performance in their company. Practice using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Results) method for answering these questions in 2 minutes or less. (Tell me about a time when you led a team through a difficult task.)
3.       Goal oriented questions will showcase how you see the particular position fitting in with your career goals. (Where do you see yourself in 5 years? How does this internship fit in with your long term career goals?)
4.       Your questions. Traditionally, every interview has time at the end for candidates to ask the interviewer questions. Have at least 1 question that showcases the research you've done on the company/position. (In my research, I saw that sustainability is a new focus for this group. Can you share any changes that have been made to support this focus area?)

If you want more details or sample questions, you can stop by the Career Management Office or check out our interview preparation tips for more resources. 

Let us know if you have any questions and we’re always here to help!

Jamie Elwell is the Director of Career Development at the Weatherhead School of Management.

October 11, 2013

Sustainability and Energy Internship Experience

This past summer I was able to participate in an excellent educational program: the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy (SISE). The SISE program, which is partially funded by the US Department of Energy, brings together a cross disciplinary group of students and professionals from across the United States to learn about and engage the issues around the United States’ energy infrastructure. The two-week program was housed on UIC’s campus.

The Institute is made up of several components, the largest being the lecture series that forms the basis of the educational program. Almost everyday for two weeks we learned from professionals from different fields relevant to the energy industry, such as: urban planning, infrastructure development, energy generation and distribution, business, economics, policy and law.  Some of our lecturers were scientists from Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), economists from the University of Chicago and policy makers from the Department of Energy.

Non-lecture components of SISE included field trips to ANL and meetings with the Clean Energy Trust (CET). At ANL we learned about some of their research. The research I found most interesting was a project that was a partnership with FedEx around electric delivery trucks. The results of their work showed that electric delivery trucks were much less costly than their conventional diesel counterparts when used in dense urban areas. This was due to the efficiency electric vehicle motors have over conventional motors, especially in constant stop and go applications. CET offers business development to clean energy start-up companies. They work with a variety of firms ranging from solar energy to battery technologies. We got to meet most of their staff and learn about exciting clean tech firms based in Chicago.

When we weren’t in lectures or on field trips, we were working on our projects. All SISE participants were split up into cross-disciplinary teams and set to work on a problem. My team had an environmental and an aerospace engineer, an urban planner and a Ph.D. student in urban sustainability. Our project was creating a hybrid electric-natural gas vehicle and a plan to develop the needed infrastructure for such a car.  By combining research from what we had been learning in and outside lectures, we presented our work at the end of the program.

The experience overall was intense but incredibly rewarding. It was a crash course in how energy works in our country and all of the issues surrounding it. Such an education was invaluable, especially because I want to go into the renewable energy and energy efficiency industry.

This opportunity came by way of the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value. It was Beau Daane, the Fowler Center Director, who told me about the program and encouraged me to apply. Roger Sallaint, the Fowler Center’s Executive Director, wrote me a letter of recommendation. If it wasn’t for them, I most likely would not have been able to attend. SISE was just one of the great opportunities in the realm of sustainability that I have been able to experience at the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value.


As a second year MBA student here at Weatherhead School of Management, I write about how I’ve been able to use my time at the school to dive into the sustainable business world. I'll describe my experience with different projects, fellowships and other programs in and outside the school. In my studies I focus on sustainability and finance. 

October 4, 2013

Career Advice for International Students

Our careers are a big part of our lives. A successful career does not only mean good compensation, in my opinion, it is a source of your happiness and a good utilization of your creativity and talent. Everyone has his or her career choice, career path and way of success. I summarized three pieces of advice from my daily conversations with international students. I hope you will find them helpful.

Don’t Limit Yourself!
To stay or not to stay? The answer is not that easy, obviously.

As international students, we always talk about whether to stay in the US after graduation. Staying in the US to get some international work experience would definitely help with our future career. However, there are also very good opportunities outside the US that we do not want to miss.

Through my study at Weatherhead, I gradually realize that as an international student, we should see ourselves as more global. We study abroad and travel a lot, which should give us more confidence to embrace the diversity of the world and be more adaptive to working in different countries and with different people.

Now my answer to the question above is: Don’t limit yourself! Don’t narrow your mind by thinking about staying or not staying in the US. Welcome all opportunities, because it is through these that we develop ourselves, no matter where we are.

Go With Your Heart
It is always a trade-off to choose what we really want to do and a getting a job. As international students, it is even more challenging if we want to look for a job in the US, because sometimes we have limited choices.

I also hesitated a lot before I made up my mind. I am very grateful that Weatherhead offered us a class in Individual Development as part of our MSM Finance Curriculum. We discussed a lot about what we really want to do and what our strengths are. It is really helpful to have these kinds of reflections. I believe that only after you have full self-awareness that you can find the right goal in life and be happy.

So go with your heart when you choose a career for yourself: what resonates to you, what makes you excited. It might take a little longer for you to discover this, but trust me, it is really worthwhile.
Alumni Reception at the Union Club '12

Network As If It Were A Lifetime Job
Many international students will be surprised to find that after arriving to the US, people tell us: ”If you want to get a job, you should network.” I didn't understand that because I never did it before to find a job in China.

It took me a little while to understand the “networking” logic so popular in the US. In the end, I feel really grateful that Weatherhead has taught me this lifetime skill.

As international students it is not only in the US that you need to network. If you want to have a successful career, the most important thing is to be able to establish and develop a network through building relationships. The objective of networking is not only to find a job but also to meet new people that we can relate to and learn from. Networking also helps us learn more about the real world, which is supplemental to class learning, thus just as important.

Enjoy networking.

Yi (Frances) Shi, MSM Finance '14, International Contributor

Yi (Frances) Shi is an MSM Finance student from China sharing her experiences at Weatherhead as an international student.