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Saint Mary’s students give internship advice through panel discussion

| Friday, February 28, 2020

The Future Business Leaders of Saint Mary’s held a panel offering internship advice for students of all majors and class years Thursday, where eight panelists presented their experiences.

Senior Molly Galvin was first to discuss her time as a merchandising analyst intern at the Kohl’s headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

“I was in the dress department,” Galvin said. “I would analyze daily sales reports and different products to see how they were performing. At the end of the summer we had a big strategy product. I had to come up with a strategy on how to make them better.”

Junior Lily Chamberlin worked as a finance and management intern for Thor Industries in Elkhart, Indiana.

“It’s the largest RV manufacturing company in the U.S., and they actually just bought a German company which is the largest RV manufacturing company in Europe. I got to be there for the transition which was really cool,” she said. 

Junior Addie Bobosky spoke on her time at AbbVie Inc., a pharmaceutical company in North Chicago.

“We focused on running clinical trials for polycystic ovary syndrome, PCOS,” Bobosky said. “They accepted engineers, business majors, any majors really.”

Two of the panelists worked in various departments for Walmart’s corporate headquarters, senior Olivia Propheter who worked as a Walmart corporate produce intern and senior MaryClare Freeman who worked in the corporate finance department.

In addition to more traditional internships, the panelists discussed alternative internship paths.

Senior Noel Keen took part in a KPMG build your own internship program, and junior Claire Kavanaugh acted as a brand ambassador for Kellogg’s Joyböl brand over the summer and the start of the fall semester.

“I posted on social media for them and gave out samples during the school year,” Kavanaugh said. “Then, based on what students would tell me, I’d give them feedback.”

Kavanaugh said she appreciated the skills working for a big company afforded her. 

“It was a really big resume booster to put a big company like Kellogg’s on there,” she said. “It was a points system, so I’d get gift cards to Amazon and Lululemon. It wasn’t technically an internship, but it was a really great experience.”

The panelists discussed the hardships in their internships and what they learned from these experiences. 

“We had a fairly small department, so we did a lot of outsourcing. One of the managers was the lead, but he really wasn’t helpful and wasn’t answering any of our emails,” Chamberlin said of her time at Thor Industries. “I ended up doing a lot I wasn’t really prepared for. Afterwards I talked to my boss and she was not happy with him, but she told me she was glad I got this experience. It was a really good learning experience being thrown into the fire and having to do all these things. At the end of the day it ended up being good, but those two weeks were really stressful.”

Propheter also discussed a difficult moment she had during her Walmart Produce internship.

“This summer there was flooding in Savannah, Georgia, and we had to clear all of the stores there because produce doesn’t stay,” she said. “It was interesting seeing how people work under pressure.”

Freeman added to Propheter’s conversation and said she also had an experience where she had to adapt in an unexpected manner in her internship.

“We had to give a big final project in front of 100 people which was tough,” she said. “I really don’t like public speaking. When I gave my boss my slides, she was really tough on them. But being able to take tough criticism is an important skill to have even when it hurts your feelings a little bit. They’re not trying to attack you at your internship; they really do want to see you come out on top.” 

Panelists also spoke on their processes of finding and deciding on an internship. Several panelists attended career fairs while others used pre-existing networks. Galvin said she learned about her internship from a contact in her hometown. 

“It’s always helpful to express what you want to do,” she said. “I will say it was a lot of data, and I really don’t like being behind a screen all day, but they told me it was just a one to two year thing and then you move up and get to go to meetings and actually work with the fabric and materials.” 

To find her internship, junior Maddie Hopek said she worked with recruiters.

“I found all of the recruiters emails and then emailed them explaining that I wanted to apply but I didn’t have access to the websites,” she said. “If you can talk to a person face-to-face, they just want to see if they can work with you and if you can work with them. You’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you.”

Bobosky said persistence is key in looking for an internship, describing an encounter she had with the representatives from AbbVie.

“The man at the booth actually refused to look at my resume because I was a sophomore,” she said. “I stayed near the booth until a lady came by and agreed to take a look at it. Every week I emailed her saying I want this, and after like three months of continuously emailing her, I got an offer. So I think the moral of the story is persistence will pay off.” 

Freeman also emphasized the wide range of possibilities for interns. 

“Most any major is open to these positions as long as you put yourself out there,” Freeman said. “You just have to go with your gut feeling. Don’t just go back because you have a return offer. Work hard to find out what you want to do.”

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