Career Advancement

Internship Q&A With Elite Company Recruiters

Top recruiters from Google, Deloitte, Chevron and Liberty Mutual spilled their secrets for landing a dream summer internship during a panel session at the Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference. Forté CEO, Elissa Sangster, moderated the panel session that included the following recruiters from leading companies:

  • Sangeeta Ballal, Commercial Operations Representative, Mid-Continent, Chevron
  • Christen Baskerville, Diversity & Inclusion Recruiter, Deloitte
  • Nicole Burns, Strategic Partnership Development Manager, Google
  • Anna Kupik, Senior Campus Recruiter, Liberty Mutual

What preparation can I take early on before applying for an internship?

Christen: Take time to look at lots of jobs that you’re thinking about during this exploratory phase, research the industries, and network.

Sangeeta: A lot of times you don’t know what job you want, so start with what you do know. Know yourselves, and what’s important to you. Those things will help you filter other things out.

Nicole: Please relax. Don’t stress out. It’s all going to come, the world is going to be your oyster, and you’re going to be really excited about your options.

Anna: It can be really easy to go where everyone else is going and do what everyone else is doing. I encourage you to be open and explore and stay true to your values.

How do I make the best use of available resources, especially when I feel conflicted about something?

C: The timelines for the different internship opportunities do not necessarily match up. It’s really important if you feel you have a conflict [to] raise your hand. Do not wait until the last minute to speak to your career center or to reach out to people at the company for advice, because you want to make sure you have the best opportunity and can assess all your options.

A: Make good relationships with your advisors at the career center and the recruiters that you meet. Developing those relationships so that you feel comfortable is critical. We’re going to help you [and] want to see you succeed. It is very critical to not feel the pressure to jump and accept whatever the offer is, and to continue to keep yourself open. If the company respects you and your decision-making process, they will give you the time to do that. If they don’t do that, walk away. It’s okay. You’re going to have to give and receive a lot of rejections.

S: Start looking up the companies that you’re interested in until you find someone [to be] your champion. Find someone who wants to help you, and to recommend you to the right people. If it’s an outside the box situation, have the courage to know what you want and go after it.

N: Join the career clubs. Typically they’re run by the second years, and it’s important to learn from them. They’ve gone through the process so leverage that on- campus support. Make sure you’re active on LinkedIn. Speak to alumni – the alumni database is really important, and you can learn about non-traditional opportunities that might not come to your campus.

Any tips for recruiting and networking etiquette?

C: Use your time wisely. Before info sessions, do your research.

S: If there’s an organization you’re interested in, reach out and at the very least ask for a phone call to follow up. You get champions, you get people who feel obligated, and you get curmudgeons. All of those are out there, and don’t get defeated if you encounter the first one. Move on, don’t waste your time.

C: I think recruiters have a lot of interest from people reaching out to them and asking for phone calls and coffee chats. Don’t take it personally [if someone doesn’t respond]. Make sure you’re adamant about getting in front of ours faces when you see us on campus and at events like this.

A: Become familiar with a number of alumni that are present at the company you’re trying to pursue. Sometimes you have to be patient and wait. But know when to push a little bit because you do need to advocate for yourself as well.

What traits of MBA students stand out to you at recruiting events?

S: Having done the research is a big one. If someone comes to me and seems to know the company just as well as me, that’s pretty impressive. Showing interest and asking the right questions. There have been some situations where I feel like I’m doing all the talking, but I want to hear more about you and why you’re interested in this path.

A: Be confident in the way you portray yourself, especially if you don’t know something. It’s okay. If you are meeting us for the first time at the expo, you can say, “I didn’t have a chance to look you up before I came here, but I’m really curious about the opportunities that you have.”

N: Being intentional about your conversations and meaningful in your approach are important.

Do internships always have to be with the goal of turning into a full-time job or can they be experimental, too?

N: Consider if the experience is interesting enough to you that you would be willing to take that summer internship and potentially not go back, but know that that experience has given you information that can be helpful for you to make short-term or long-term career decisions later on. And really think about whether it is the type of organization that has your best interests at hand. If that specific position is not available, will they help you navigate to something else that you would be really excited about?

A: I would get clarity if there is a conversion opportunity because every company will be different. At Liberty Mutual, we have an intern-only model. Those are the folks we’re looking at to fill our full-time roles.

S: Knowing what you don’t want to do is just as important as knowing what you want to do, and that’s what the summer is for. With that said, at Chevron we prefer accepting full-time hires from our internship pool.

Are internship salaries fixed or negotiable, and are they a baseline for full-time offers?

C: Our intern incomes are fixed, and more than likely your full-time offer will be as well. We always let people know that we’re open to negotiations, but it’s more than likely not going to change.

N: It’s fixed as well for most technology companies, but I do think that there’s a little bit of flexibility to negotiate when you have a full-time opportunity.

S: Speaking about Chevron, it will be fixed for the internship and full-time.

A: Same for Liberty Mutual.

Do you have any tips for coping with rejection?

A: Do something that grounds you every day. The way you start a day is really important, so keep that in mind as you move through this experience. Have someone to call who has known you for a long time and can help talk you off that ledge. And conversely, have someone who’s going to play devil’s advocate for you, so that you have different perspectives. Because there will be trying times, challenging times, discouraging times.

C: We can’t go through life without meeting rejection. It is going to happen, but it’s how you take those next steps that’s going to define your next goal or next plan. So have your emotions and then get ready for the next boat.

S: You have to process it. You can’t just suck it up. Definitely look for someone within your personal sphere, and ideally look for people who are in business school for mentors. Maybe not students, because they’re all in it too, but people who are peripherally related.

N: Do not compare yourself to other people. Your journey is not going to be the same as your peers, and make sure that you stay level-headed because it does get stressful. You are extremely intelligent and amazing, and do not forget that during this process.

How do I navigate international internship opportunities?

A: I wish there an opportunity to do this at our company, but we have a standard policy that we’re not able to pursue visas for international students. But that doesn’t mean there are not other opportunities out there. Some schools I work with have an international student advisor, and they can be one of your best resources. If you don’t have someone at your school, speak to people in your network to help you go in that direction.

S: Look at a company with a global footprint. If you’re authorized to work in the US, maybe start your internship there, so that the opportunities there don’t erode before you look abroad. Inversely, if you’re an international student looking to work in the US, you have to have work authorization from the US, but [Chevron, for example, has] companies across the world. So if you are eligible to apply from India, from China, then you can apply through that route as well.

C: We deliver a global brand, so if you’re not able to work in the US, we’re present in other countries. But it depends on what clients you’ll be working on. For our federal clients you have to be a US citizen, but for our commercial clients it isn’t bordered.

N: Google is a global organization, so we have internship opportunities in the US and also abroad. Just make sure that you double check eligibility requirements.

If you could only offer one piece of advice about summer internships, what would it be?

C: As much as these companies are interviewing you, you are interviewing them as well. Having that mindset when you go into those interviews will give you confidence.

S: Stay authentic. If you realize that you’re unhappy with a process, stop and reflect on why and reassess and realign with what it is you need to do and work towards.

N: Always listen to your gut. You have to feel out whether or not the organization will work for you. As you go through mock interviews, listen to the ways in which those companies talk to you. Do you feel that they’re genuine, and that they’re really going to support you?

A: Make sure that you’re asking questions about sponsorship and mentorship. If there are not people who look like you in the senior ranks, it’s important to know that you have opportunities to get sponsorship. Sponsors are the people who are removing blockades for you, typically internal to your organization. Mentors are typically going to be a little more junior, within or outside of your organization. I encourage you to cultivate both those relationships.

However you decide to go about getting a summer internship, Forté CEO Elissa Sangster underscores the valuable insights of the panelists with a suggestion to be intentional when considering internships.

“Everyone’s goals are going to look a bit different, but think about how you’re going to achieve yours to get to that endgame, and really be strategic as you start focusing in on this internship search,” she said.

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