Student Spotlight Archive 


​Sean Johns

Spring 2015

Equinox, University Venture Fund & Disney

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Though completing three internships during an undergrad definitely has its benefits, Sean Johns learned that it can also come with great challenges. Johns, an economics major, worked with a local IT service provider call Equinox, The University Venture Fund--located in Salt Lake City and affiliated with the University of Utah--and finally with Disney in California.

 In all of his internships, Johns struggled to balance his work, especially when it overlapped with school and personal relationships; Johns was married and began a family during these internships.

Johns said, "It was challenging to balance my time so that I could make quality c​ontributions to my employers, get good grades, and balance my personal life as well." But despite the challenge, Johns ended up with a full-time offer with Disney. He explained that he had to put a considerable amount of effort into devoting extra time to networking so that he could cultivate relationships that helped open doors for his career.

In his current position, Sean projects the occupancy of the 36 domestic hotels for use with operations planning and pricing or marketing decisions. He said, "I am not on the team I was as an intern, but I am in the same department. I was able to begin developing relationships with several of my current team members by setting up networking opportunities with them during my internship."

​Before accepting his position at Disney, he was offered multiple jobs, for which he largely credits his prior intern experience. Johns says it helped his resume stand out when it came to apply for full-time positions. He was also able to gain valuable work experience while identifying what he wanted to do for his career.

Students with questions may contact Sean at seanjohn76@gmail.com. ​


Spencer Palmer

Summer 2013

Utah Valley Regional Medical Center​

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Spencer Palmer first became interested in healthcare during a health economics class he took from Professor Mark Showalter. Thinking he would pursue a career in hospital administration, Palmer sought and was accepted to an internship at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center to gain experience for graduate school.

Palmer had a variety of responsibilities as a patient experience intern. He instructed and evaluated staff members, interacted with patients to validate caregiver behavior, and helped to organize and direct hospital, community-sponsored events. One event he was heavily involved in was a half marathon that raised $250,000 to fight cancer. The two aspects of the internship that Palmer said he enjoyed the most were talking to patients and when employees thanked him for helping them.

Despite Palmer's ability to recognize the positives in his internship experience, the most important lesson he learned is that hospital administration is not for him. "Just getting to know people, seeing them day to day, what their jobs and lives were like, it made me realize that this was not what I originally thought it was, nor what I wanted in a career," Palmer said. "I am so grateful I did the internship for this reason."

Palmer now works full-time as a Physician Staffing Consultant for a medical staffing and placement firm. Although he is now headed in a different career direction, Palmer speaks constantly with physicians and hospital administrators in his work. He believes that part of the reason he was offered this position is because of his internship working in the healthcare community.

Summarizing his internship experience Palmer said, "Sometimes you have to just go for it and try things out to see if it's where you really want to be."

Anyone who would like to contact Spencer may reach him at spencer.palmer@outlook.com


Ryan Barker
Fall 2013
Gibson Capital Management


As the team leader of a group of five interns with Gibson Capital Management, Ryan Barker learned a difficult but valuable lesson:  you don't leave slackers behind when you graduate. "Even in jobs at a relatively professional level, there will always be problem team members that need to be dealt with," Barker says.

Barker signed up for his internship through the Marriott School's on-campus internship program, organized into classes based on industry. Students may choose the internship, or project, that appeals to them. They are then divided into groups of five. While students are required to attend class only a few times a semester, each group collectively contributes 40 hours per week to their project. Every member of the team fills a role (e.g. report manager), with the team leader coordinating the group's efforts.

Barker's team focused mostly on consulting style market research, which included a lot of reading, research, and learning about the field. Unfortunately for Barker, "As the semester went on, it became less research and more managing the problems of the group."

Despite the challenges of his internship, Barker acknowledges the ability he developed to motivate less motivated team members, a valuable leadership skill. He was further rewarded during the interview that landed him the job he now has, which he says focused almost entirely on his internship experience. "My internship did a lot to strengthen my résumé," Barker remarks.

Now a contract compliance auditor for Connolly, Barker says he applies the problem-solving skills he learned during his internship to deal with situations that arise at work. "Only instead of team members not contributing, I'm dealing with companies trying to slow the audit process," he explains.

Students who want to reach out to Barker may contact him at ryan.barker563@gmail.com.

 


Christelle Xu
Summer 2013
Crowdfund Capital Advisors

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During the summer of 2013, Christelle XU was hired as an unpaid analyst for a local start-up company. But when Crowdfund Capital Advisors (CCA) offered her a paid position where she would work closely with two thought leaders in the fast-growing crowdfunding industry, "it was clearly an opportunity I could not pass up."

Christelle was originally connected to CCA through one of her church leaders, whose son was working with CCA on a paper for the World Bank. As an intern, she had the opportunity to co-author a white paper with two of her peers titled "Shari'ah Compliance, The Case for Crowdfunding." Her other primary responsibilities included compiling data and managing a comprehensive database of active crowdfunding platforms. 

Additionally, Christelle said she learned several significant lessons interning with CCA: use your resources, be professional, be resilient, and be persistent. Although she worked on a small team with people who quickly became friends, Christelle also had to practice separating her professional life from her personal life as well as balancing the two. "I learned that though professional relationships can become casual, your personal life and problems are best left out of the workplace," she said.

Christelle credits her co-workers with being the best part of her internship. She said, "They gave me perspective as well as a network I wouldn't have achieved otherwise." Now in her senior year, Christelle continues to do related work as a research assistant with UC Berkeley and remains in contact with those she worked with. She is also a TA and an RA in the Economics Department. 

Previously, Christelle completed internships with Les Patits Freres des Pauvres and the United Health Group. She plans to complete another internship this summer and will graduate December 2014. 

Students who wish to contact Christelle may reach her at christelle_xu@yahoo.com



Michael Douglas
Summer 2013
Capital One

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In addition to gaining useful hard and soft skills that he will use throughout his career (as well as unlimited access to the snack cabinet), Michael Douglas said his internship withCapital One taught him that presentation is equally as important as talent.

Michael learned to present himself confidently as an intern with Capital One. His main project during the summer was to perform a value analysis of an email stream that Capital One sends to new Venture customers (Venture is Capital One's travel rewards card) and present his findings to one of the vice presidents of the company. 

This skill of presenting himself well played a large part in Michael's later interview withThe Boston Consulting Group, where he will begin working full-time in fall 2014. Without Capital One on his resume, Michael said he never would have gotten the interview with BCG, and he would not have had the necessary practice of presenting himself to senior executives, as he had to in interviews, without the experience he received in his internship. 

In the meantime, Michael teaches chemistry at a private high school in Salt Lake City and lives in Provo. He will officially graduate in April 2014, after completing his last online class.

Students with questions for Michael may contact him at michaellawrencedouglas@gmail.com

 

 

 

Chase Coleman
Winter 2013
Research Assistant for Tom Sargent

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Preparation met opportunity for Chase Coleman at an economics conference with top scholars from around the world. That is where he first met New York University professor and winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Economics, Thomas J. Sargent, who was sufficiently impressed with Chase and one of his classmates that he hired them as his research assistants. 

As one of the students who completed the Macroeconomics Computational Boot Camp, Chase was qualified to attend the BYU Computational Public Economics Conference held in December 2012. The principal purpose of the boot camp was to prepare students to "hit the ground running" in research projects with faculty mentors. Not only did Chase participate meaningfully in specified research projects with faculty members at BYU, but the skills he acquired during boot camp earned him the opportunity to work with a prominent economist. 

While interning with Professor Sargent, Chase was primarily responsible for improving Matlab code that was previously written. He and his co-worker worked hard and experienced challenges that stretched them--such as when they found a poorly documented code that they had to work through. Chase said that being an intern gave him a sample of the types of code and mathematics he will use in graduate school. He emphasized, "Regardless of whether or not you pursue a PhD, math is a skill that can set you apart and above other individuals that you are competing against anywhere you go."

This seems to be true for Chase, who continues to receive prestigious opportunities. While working as a research assistant, he was accepted to NYU as a graduate student. He began earning his PhD in economics in the fall of 2013 and continues to research with Professor Sargent. 


 

Angela Graves
Cicero Group
Merrill Lynch
US Treasury
Bain & Company

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Angela Graves landed her first internship when she was in high school. Four internships later, she is a senior in economics and has a job lined up with Bain & Company following her graduation in April 2014. 

Although Angela didn't originally plan to do so many internships, each one served as a stepping stone in her career. When she interned at Cicero Group following her second year of college, she was set on graduating in only three years. That same summer, she also interned with Merrill Lynch, which was an internship she could do while living at home. Once her plan changed and she decided to graduate in four years, Angela had an extra summer for another internship. She applied and was accepted for a summer position with Bain & Company. With each internship Angela learned something significant. Read about her key takeaways below.

Cicero Group (summer 2012): "As my first internship, my biggest takeaway here was that working wasn't really that scary, and that my career would be whatever I made it. It's like when you're young and you're mom tells you that can be whatever you want when you grow up--well, this internship kind of proved that to me." 

Merrill Lynch (summer 2012): "This internship definitely showed me the value of working for a big firm that has a lot of resources. Anything that I wanted to know about financial markets was available to me. It also taught me that, although I love financial markets, I don't think I'd want to work in wealth management. Just wasn't for me, I guess."

US Treasury (fall 2012): "Interning at the Treasury was one of the best experiences I had. I really connected with the people in my office, and they took a sincere interest in me and my personal development. I think the biggest thing I learned is that it's not always important how much you enjoy your work, but the people you're working with."

Bain & Company (summer 2013): "I realized how much I really enjoy working in teams. At past internships, I had limited (if any) client exposure and was generally working on my own or in a very small team. Here, both client exposure and teamwork were constant. Not only was I constantly working with my Bain team, but working directly with the client as well. It was very collaborative and I enjoyed that a lot more that I expected I would."

Angela described her internship with Bain as a "win-win" situation because they got an employee they know they like and she has the luxury of not having to job hunt her senior year. 



Whitney Staples
Summer 2012
Schramm, Williams & Associates, Inc. 

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The combination of her interest in politics and her aspiration to work in management consulting led Whitney Staples to complete an internship with Schramm, Williams & Associates, a government consulting firm in Washington, DC. Through both her internship and BYU's Washington Seminar program, Whitney returned to her senior year at BYU with a better understanding of how the US government operates.

Specifically, Whitney learned how citizens push their issues through government, which she said is mostly through lobbyists and consultants. Since Schramm, Williams & Associates works directly with the senators and congressmen representing various agricultural industries, Whitney had the opportunity to attend senate agriculture hearings and see the lobbyists and consultants in action. 

In addition to sitting in on hearings, Whitney worked on a case involving fraudulent olive oil imported to the US. She said that she researched everything one could possibly know about olive oil, wrote government mock reports to provide to the client and government officials, and helped compile the 2012 World Pistachio report. Whitney's other responsibilities included answering phones, sorting mail, and stocking the fridge. 

Although Whitney was the only intern in her office and admitted it was frustrating not having a peer to work with, she found a wonderful mentor in her boss, Bob Schramm, who she described as genuinely caring and hardworking. "I learned the most just talking to him and trying to emulate him," she said. Because the firm where Whitney worked was small, she went to lunch with Schramm about three times a week. She explained, "I loved these lunches because I could listen to his stories, learn more about his accomplishments, and understand how to love your job."

Whitney now works as an operations lead for Accretive Health, a healthcare consulting firm. Despite studying management consulting in school, Whitney never focused on one industry in particular until her internship, and now her full-time job. Through her internship, she said she learned to zero in on one industry and enact change. She added, "I also know how to treat people and how to find the positives in my job, thanks to Bob."

Would you like to contact Whitney and learn more about her experience? Send her an email atwhitneyawing@gmail.com

 

AJ Christensen
Summer 2012
Bates White

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Like so many interns, AJ Christensen faced the challenge of contributing meaningfully to long-term projects as a short-term employee. "You want to make an impression and be remembered," he stated, "so the challenge is to think strategically about how you can make an impact, and in which areas you should make an impact and in which areas you shouldn't even try because you don't have time."

In order to make the most significant impact, AJ worked closely with his supervisor at Bates White to filter the work he received. Once he had discussed his skills with his supervisor, his supervisor matched AJ's projects with his skillset. In this way, AJ contributed meaningfully to long-term goals.

As an analyst, AJ conducted research on two main cases during his internship where he learned two main lessons:

1. Technical skills matter. "Learning STATA, Excel, and different technical skills will help you be much more effective as an analyst," AJ said. 

2. Communication is very important in the real world. "It's not good enough just to be book smart," AJ noted. "You need to be able to synthesize the analysis you do and communicate it clearly to others." 

AJ learned about Bates White while researching the field of economics consulting during his junior year at BYU. Although he received other internship offers, AJ chose Bates White in large part because of its highly rated internship program. In addition to feeling valued and receiving meaningful work, AJ said it was a fun summer in general. He explained, "They [at Bates White] take you to baseball games and sailing on the Chesapeake Bay and a lot a fun stuff like that, so it's just fun environment."

 

Now graduated, AJ works full-time for Bates White as a consultant. Because of his internship experience, he knew which skills to practice and develop during his last year in school. He also learned about a career opportunity that he wasn't familiar with before his internship. This helped him to make an informed decision later when he was applying and interviewing for full-time positions. Ultimately, AJ returned to Bates White because he liked the atmosphere. 

Students with questions for AJ may reach him at 801-558-0929. 


Ben Gong
Summer 2012
Micro Benefits

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As someone who dreams of one day owning his own business, Ben Gong wanted exposure to entrepreneurship. That is why when he heard about the one-year-old Micro Benefits, a for-profit company in Shanghai with a social mission to improve the lives of blue collar workers by offering employee benefits, he contacted the account manager to learn more about it. He ended up applying to an internship position and received an offer.

Ben was initially hired as an analyst but had the opportunity to work with every part of upper management, including the CEO, as he completed assignments in various divisions of the organization. "I did everything," Ben said. "I was pulling apart investment decks; I was meeting with clients; I was pounding the streets doing surveys with blue collar workers." This breadth of exposure gave him a bird's eye view of what a start-up company does and how management makes it happen.

These experiences didn't just fall into Ben's lap though. "Everything was dependent on what I asked to do," he explained. In addition to his work on a pricing model for Micro Benefits, Ben expressed interest in other parts of the organization to his leaders. Micro Benefits worked with him to ensure the most valuable experience possible. His goal of starting a business drove him to ask for exposure to the details of entrepreneurship. "My experience was largely based on what I wanted to learn, so knowing that going in was really useful," Ben said. 

Ben, who served an LDS mission in Taiwan and previously completed an internship in Beijing, enjoyed his experience outside the office as well. In his own words, "Being international was so stinkin' fun." Because he lived and worked there, Ben started to feel like a local. He played sports with Chinese workers, attended a Chinese wedding, and ran regularly around Jinji Lake in Suzhou, known as the "Venice of China."

Despite doing fun things on the weekends, Ben warned that interning internationally can be really lonely, especially compared to BYU. In addition to the language barrier, "you're going to a foreign country where you don't really have any friends, where you get off work and a lot of the things going on in the city are things that you're not sure you want to do and you're on a budget so there aren't a lot of things you can do," Ben said. He stressed the importance of being prepared for this before interning abroad. But you can often find people from BYU to live with, he added.

Ben now works as an analyst at Leavitt Partners, a health care intelligence business in Salt Lake City, where he uses many of the skills that he developed as an intern in Excel, PowerPoint, marketing, and video creation. Students with questions for Ben may contact him at ben.gong@leavittpartners.com



Jake Corkin
Summer 2012
PricewaterhouseCoopers

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Professional services firm PwC has a mission to create value for their clients. Every day, they focus on "delivering value in all [they] do." It is fitting, then, that Jake Corkin learned an important lesson about value while interning in their New York office during the summer of 2012.

Jake explained that his biggest challenge as an intern was "finding ways to create value and becoming viewed as an asset instead of a liability to my team." From this he learned to add value to any task he was given. "Whenever I was asked to do something, I did it, and then tried to do the next two or three things that my manager or team would have logically asked me to do as a result of finishing that task," he said. 

In addition to his primary responsibility of creating excel templates to aid in system integration between a hedge fund and a bank, Jake performed various ad hoc tasks such as creating slide decks, analyzing financial methods, and taking notes in meetings. 

Ultimately, interning at PwC helped Jake create value for himself and improve his marketability. His internship provided him with credibility and talking points for his interviews as he searched for a full-time job following graduation. Jake now works at Amazon.com as a Brand Specialist, where he has end-to-end ownership for a strategic vendor's business on Amazon's retail platform. He noted, "I would not have been able to get such a great full-time job if I hadn't worked so hard to get an internship while still an undergrad."

Students with questions for Jake may contact him at jccorkin@amazon.com



Matt Hawes
Summer 2012
Sandbox Industries

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While interning with Sandbox Industries, a venture capital firm, Matt Hawes gained first-hand experience in an industry that always interested him. Although he knew some things about venture capital, Matt's internship was an opportunity to experience working for one on a daily basis. "There is only so much you can learn in a classroom or from a book," he said. "Often, it is best to just dive in and do it."

During his summer internship with Sandbox, Matt worked with their incubation team assisting with many of the firm's portfolio startup companies. His responsibilities as a member of the incubation team varied day by day. "One day I could be working on SEO and lead generation and the next I could be researching the best way to ship products," he said. Matt added that his favorite perk as an intern was learning about new and innovative companies, which he did as he observed and evaluated entrepreneur pitches.

Although Matt was with Sandbox for only a short period of time, he said he learned an incredible amount. "Working for a VC gives you an invaluable chance to learn about growing small businesses, investing in companies, and making meaningful connections," he expressed. "It also gives you multiple chances to use what you have learned in the past to solve unique daily problems." According to Matt, a background in economics provides students with skills necessary to succeed in a venture capital firm. 

Prior to accepting the offer from Sandbox, Matt had spent months networking and applying for internships across the country, opening several doors. Ultimately, that gave him multiple options and he was able to choose the internship that was the best fit for him. In addition to the appeal of a venture capital firm, Matt chose Sandbox because of its impressive company culture and its location. "Exploring Chicago's food scene was well worth it in itself," he quipped. 

Matt and his wife now live in Boston, where his wife is attending graduate school. Students who are interested in interning with a venture capital firm or who may have other questions for Matt can reach him atmatt.t.hawes@gmail.com

 

 

Caroline Mugimu
Summer 2012
Ernst & Young

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When Caroline Mugimu began her internship at Ernst & Young in the summer of 2012, she struggled to feel at ease with her co-workers and ask relevant questions without feeling intimidated. "Even if they were really nice and welcoming, there was still a bit of hesitation in me because I was so afraid of making a mistake," she said. "Good news is, once I got over that fear, I was able to interact with professionals comfortably and make great connections."

As an intern, Caroline worked with a team of professionals to help clients improve their business processes. Caroline said some of her most valuable experiences included showcasing skills she had obtained at BYU, gaining new skills, and learning how to interact in a professional setting.

Every summer, Ernst & Young takes all of its interns to Disney World for its annual International Intern Leadership Conference. While at the conference, Caroline had the opportunity to interact with more than 300 senior managers and partner-level professionals. "The fact that those professionals took time out of their schedules to spend a week with the interns clearly showed how much they valued us," Caroline noted.

Caroline chose to intern with Ernst & Young so she could learn about business consulting specifically in the risk services area. Most importantly, she valued the firm's reputation for treating their employees well and fostering an inclusive environment. "Being from Uganda, it is important to me to be in a work environment that embraces and values skill sets, experiences, and ethnicities," she said.

In the end, the people and Ernst & Young seemed to connect as well with Caroline as she did with them. She now works full-time as one of their Risk Advisory consultants. 



Sean Lindsay
Summer 2012
Cornerstone Research

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Before beginning his internship in the summer of 2012, Sean had an "ominous feeling" about graduation. Graduation, he said, felt like a "looming deadline" for him to get a life. Sean explained that the idea of graduating and leaving what he had known for the last 20 years of his life--school--was unnerving. Fulfilling an internship with Cornerstone Research in the Bay Area of California, however, changed his perspective: "It provided a really good opportunity to get out there and see, hey, there is life after college and actually it's a lot of fun."

In fact, Sean said he enjoyed the working lifestyle so much that his last year of classes felt like a hurdle between him and the workplace. At the same time, he noted that his experience as a summer analyst gave more purpose to his classes. He had a lot better idea of what he would use in a real-world business environment. "Having that context made it a lot easier to get involved in some of my classes," Sean said, "and to know how I might apply the things I was learning."

Cornerstone Research does economic analysis for corporate litigation cases--a line of work Sean had never heard of before. But when some of his friends accepted full-time jobs there, he decided to look into it. Because there are fewer positions available for interns than for full-time analysts at Cornerstone, the hiring process for internships is even more competitive. Consequently, most interns who perform well receive job offers at the end of their internship--as was the case with Sean. He began working full-time for Cornerstone in the summer of 2013. 

Regardless of whether or not you go back to work for the same company, Sean said that an internship is good practice for working in a professional environment. You learn skills such as working under a manager and with co-workers and communicating effectively, but without the same amount of pressure as a full-time employee. "The company's trying you on for size and you're trying the company on for size and so you get this 3-month preview," Sean explained.




Sam Dodini
Summer 2012
Edgeworth Economics

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As an intern with the consulting firm Edgeworth Economics, Sam Dodini was expected to work efficiently, produce quality and replicable work, and collaborate with a team. He acknowledged that keeping up with the pace of the responsibilities asked of him was difficult at times, but applying what he learned in his BYU economics classes gave him confidence in his abilities. 

The opportunity to work in a diverse group gave Sam a reference point to compare economics programs. As he observed how graduates of other universities approached problems, he realized the extent of his own abilities. "Knowing that I can pair up well with qualified graduates from Yale, Georgetown, or Swarthmore gave me a lot of confidence," Sam said. "It's hard to know where you fit in the world with your abilities; having a point of comparison is great for your self-esteem and motivation."

Crediting the BYU economics program with preparing him to think critically about issues he encountered as an intern, Sam said he was able to understand the flaws in the arguments of even some PhD economists. 

Originally Sam applied for a long list of internships. In the end, Edgeworth Economics is the one that interested him most, paid well, and had the most opportunity for employment afterward. His primary responsibilities included conducting economics analysis for antitrust and labor litigation, and helping produce expert reports and pro bono analysis. "I was most interested to see how economists react when they have to make an argument using data and have to be extremely clear about what they are doing with it," Sam said.

Over the course of the internship, he also gained skills in Stata, Excel, and SAS.

Sam was hired to work full-time for Edgeworth Economics following his graduation. Although he continues to do analysis similar to what he did as an intern, his position "has an added level of rigor and pace to it," he said. "The internship made the transition so much smoother and made me more familiar with the work I was to eventually do."

 To learn more about Sam's experience, email him at Sam Dodini sdodini@gmail.com.



Rebecca Hurst
Summer 2012
Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Rebecca Hurst went to Washington, DC on a whim in the spring of 2012, with no planned job or internship. After arriving in the city and searching several databases, including usajobs.gov, she applied for and received an offer to intern with the Bureau of Labor Statistics as an economics clerk.

As a member of the quality management staff with eight other women, Rebecca was given a project to help improve the Bureau's occupational outlook handbook. The handbook outlines hundreds of occupations, providing details about each one, such as typical responsibilities, work environment, pay, and career path. Her main assignment was to analyze feedback provided by handbook users and write a report (ultimately more than 30 pages!) suggesting improvements based on that feedback.

Rebecca, who only took one formal writing class at BYU, said her internship required more writing than is probably typical for an economics position. However, as a student and teaching assistant for Dr. Butler (Coach), she knew the importance of expressing herself clearly. Paraphrasing Coach, she said that even though you may be skilled with quantitative models, writing is still absolutely critical; "the way you express yourself can make a world of difference." 

Although she was the only intern in her department, Rebecca attended activities with interns from other agencies with the Department of Labor, including a tour of the White House and a lecture at the State Department. As an intern, Rebecca also had full access to the Bureau's gym and exercise classes. "The federal government treats their interns well," she said.

Overall, Rebecca describes the internship as "a really positive experience." She explored not only the working aspect of professionals, but also their lifestyle. The internship helped her have a clearer answer to such questions as, "Do I really want to work in DC? Is this the kind of lifestyle that I want?"

Rebecca currently works as an AmeriCorps VISTA for TeensAct, a nonprofit that empowers teenagers for college. She said that the independent nature of her internship helped her prepare for this position where she is expected to manage her projects in order to finish them by the deadline. 



Spencer Ring
Fall 2011
Beneficial Financial Group

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Spencer Ring didn't have to travel far to complete his internship. In fact, most of his work was done either on BYU campus or wherever he could stake a claim with his personal laptop.

Describing his internship with Beneficial Financial Group, a life insurance company based in Salt Lake City, Spencer said it was "definitely not an in-the-office experience." Although he was placed on a team of 10-15 interns, he directed most of his own work, and on his own time. Sometimes that meant using one of the special computers on campus to run a software application that reports real-time financial data, call Bloomberg Terminal; other times, it meant working from his own home or the library. Because Spencer's internship was part-time and flexible, he could also take classes that same semester. 

As an intern, Spencer analyzed four companies to determine whether Beneficial should continue investing in their bonds. Once a month, he met with his team to discuss individual research, and twice during the semester he presented his analysis to Beneficial executives. Spencer said their high standard for analysis taught him to be complete when researching and reporting. "Anything that you do in investing is probably going to be a lot more rigorous than anything else you do," he explained. But learning thorough due diligence pays dividends in the long-run, no matter where you end up. 

"To take econ out of the classroom and into the real world is really easy and kind of hard at the same time," Spencer noted. As a student, Spencer practiced applying economics in simplified theoretical scenarios. Although those concepts transfer directly to the real world, he explained, as an employee you don't have the econ professors "holding your hand" showing you how to apply them in everyday situations. "You have to be very self-motivated in terms of applying that knowledge," he said.

Because the interns were given little specific training, Spencer said that learning enough to feel confident in his analysis was the biggest challenge. He could understand what different reports were saying, but did that really support his recommendation? By the end of the internship, "I got more confident in being able to talk to people with the investing mindset and understanding why different factors really mattered," he said.

Spencer now works as a financial analyst at IBM in Rochester, Minnesota. He noted that IBM thinks highly of BYU students and is regularly looking to bring on talent of their caliber. Students interested in corporate finance internships or full-time positions are welcome to contact him by email at sring@us.ibm.com for more information.