'Aim for overachievement by asking, "Can I do more?"'
Hometown: Bainbridge Island
Major: International Business Administration
Minors: French, Internationally focused Economics
Internship Helped with membership sales and forum events for Keiretsu Forum Northwest, the Pacific Northwest chapter of the largest angel investor network in the world.
Now: Graduated in Winter of 2012. Now the sales manager at the Hotel Bellwether in Bellingham; one of five WWU grads on their management team.
More on how to get an internship
How did you find your internship?
A Western alumnus told the International Business Network about Keiretsu Forum Northwest at a club meeting. The next month, he invited a few club officers, including myself, to sit in on an investment forum in Seattle, followed by our own “pitch” (the club mission statement) to a small room of investors. We were critiqued on our presentation and mission. I was hooked and returned for two forums per month for 10 consecutive months.
How can students get the most out of an internship experience?
Aim for over-achievement by asking, “can I do more?” Taking on more responsibility means more experience and shows initiative to your future interviewers. Sometimes, the unpaid internships with smaller companies are the most rewarding. I had friends who got internships at larger companies and were paid upwards of $24 an hour, but they didn’t get any valuable experience. It’s your choice, but experience, not wage, will help you in an interview.
What was the most important thing you learned?
The internship taught me what my studies couldn’t: confidence in a big-dog setting. I learned how to handle myself, articulate and give my “elevator speech” even when I was nervous.
How has the internship experience changed you or your future plans?
I wasn’t sure what to do with an International Business Administration degree. I could have been a translator or an ambassador. I chose sales because I got a taste of working with others outside of my company every day, achieving goals and networking through my internship and I liked it.
My work/internship experience also landed me a management position right out of college. I don’t believe a student without professional experience can launch into that kind of position. I have found that without a degree you’re climbing up a long, steep ladder, with a degree you’re leaping off a spring board and with a relevant internship before graduation you’re hurling out of a catapult with your helmet on; where you land is up to you.
Do you have any advice for families of students?
Besides, stay at the Bellwether and utilize our amazing WWU parent rate? From personal experience and observation, if it’s at all possible, supporting your student financially during their college career may actually leave them in a better position to stand on their own after college. That financial support is especially critical when students want to pursue an unpaid internship that will give them great experience. Also, having a huge debt burden may force them to come home after graduation. It may also affect what kind of jobs they take. After tips, most serving and barista jobs pay more than an entry level professional position, so those jobs can be more tempting than a “real” job that’s on a career track. If students aren’t buried in loan debt they are more likely to take those career-oriented jobs and stay out of your basement.-- Interview by Brenna Greely