Student Spotlight: Veena Suthendran

VeenaVeena Suthendran

Position: Data Analytics Intern

Majors: BHP, Management Information Systems

Company: Facebook, San Francisco, California

Topics: Data Analytics, SQL, R Studio, Python

Veena Suthendran is a third-year majoring in Business Honors and Management Information Systems with a certificate in Advanced Statistical Modeling. This summer, she was a Data Analytics Intern at Facebook in San Francisco.

“I worked mainly on the Instagram team, looking at the type of public content Instagram users consume. Amazingly, I got to spend most of my time understanding/researching Instagram influencers, like Ariana Grande and Daquan, who are creating original content for Instagram users. I mainly used SQL to mine data from Facebook’s servers, and R Studio and Python to find patterns, trends, and create visualizations with the data. I learned a lot about data privacy, product ideation, and how to speak to software engineers, designers, and product managers about what the data shows.”

Suthendran found her internship through a combination of hard work and persistence. “I started looking for an internship around October last year, and knew I wanted to experience the tech industry. I went to any information session that any tech companies had on campus. Facebook Austin held an information session at their office, and I heard about the data science position. I applied online and fortunately got an interview. I was flown out to the San Francisco/Menlo Park office where I had 2 rounds.”

Suthendran’s experience not only refined her technical and business skills, but it also helped her learn about corporate culture and personal fulfillment.“After interning at Facebook this summer, I realized that  lifestyle, benefits, and culture really make a difference in my overall happiness and productivity. Facebook’s culture of transparency/community allowed me to have insightful conversations with executives. As an intern, it was amazing to ask questions and hear from all these people I look up to. Also, Facebook promoted a really healthy work life balance. All employees encouraged to go home at a reasonable hour, and performance evaluations aren’t based just on ‘desk time’.”

Suthendran also credits BHP and McCombs’ student organizations with providing an excellent network that helped her pursue her interests. “Honestly, the support I had from my peers who were also BHP/MIS majors really helped me prep for the interview and the internship. The ambiguous/open ended nature of several classes that I had taken – such as Advanced Statistics and Management – taught me how to break down complex problems,” says Suthendran. “At my internship, my team gave me a relatively broad question and asked me to derive analysis, which was very similar to the final project I had done in stats. Also, since a majority of my cohort were math, CS, or statistics majors, my presentation, and communication skills really helped me stand out.”

“Being a part of Texas Convergent also really exposed me to the tech industry, and I was able to meet a lot of students in both the computer science school and McCombs that were interested in emerging technologies and how data was used to shape decision making,” says Suthdendran. She advises other students to get involved and leverage the resources within McCombs to try new things. “I honestly didn’t even think I was interested in the tech industry or data science coming into McCombs. Being open to opportunities that come your way, and trying out a lot of different things, instead of planning out everything is how I fell into Facebook! I think it is important to step outside of your comfort zone and try a different organization or check out an info session that seems interesting.”

Student Spotlight: Rachna Parikh


Rachna Parikh

Position: Business Strategist Intern

Majors: BHP, Management Information Systems

Company: Quisitive, Dallas, Texas

Topics: Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things

Rachna Parikh is a third-year Business Honors and Management Information Systems major. This summer, she was the Business Strategist intern on the Emerging Technologies team at Quisitive, a technology consulting firm in Dallas. “My internship experience at Quisitive was amazing. I got the opportunity to work on the emerging technologies team, which meant I got to work with Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and Internet of Things and find ways to implement these into industries from accounting to healthcare,” says Parikh. “These technologies used to seem like buzzwords that were so abstract to me, but now they have turned into things that I love to talk with people about, and solidified my passion to work with emerging technology as I move forward in my career.”

When asked about how she found the path to her internship, she revealed that it was an interesting process. “Landing a sophomore internship is no easy feat, and my experience reflects that heavily. In fact, I changed my major from marketing to MIS midway through my sophomore year, which just added to the confusion and difficulty of the situation,” says Parikh. “I found this internship through a lot of research and reaching out to people. I ended up getting my interview and offer from Quisitive during late March/early April. It was honestly because of very, very understanding and generous recruiters and leadership.”

Parikh also asserts that the classroom experience and coursework from BHP helped enhance her internship experience. “Countless topics from BHP classes popped up throughout my internship, but I think the most valuable preparation BHP gave me for this internship was the ability to learn and excel quickly in new areas. BHP coursework can be pretty intimidating, so it requires a lot of focus and adaptability to succeed. That was paralleled closely in my work environment, where I was dealing with foreign subjects and tools that seemed daunting at first. I found myself constantly referring back to the thought of BHP coursework that seemed impossible at first look that I eventually worked through and completed. It reminded me that I was capable of picking up new skills quickly and that I would find a way to work through any challenge that came my way.”

By learning how to quickly adapt and excel in new skills, Parikh has gained a wealth of diverse experience. “There was a moment in my internship where one of my supervisors asked me to create 21 user experience screens in Adobe Xd. I had never heard of that software, I had never done anything minutely related to UX, and none of my mentors were UX designers,” says Parikh — but she didn’t let that stop her. “I took on the challenge knowing that BHP has shown me that I can learn quickly and that this was an opportunity for me to grow. I broke up the task into a few different chunks, planning out how I could potentially be successful at this, and after a week and a half, I had a foundational understanding of UX design principles, the stages of the process, and 21 mockups to review with my supervisors. I was so glad I took on that project even though it didn’t align with my experience, because I ended up loving UX design, and had the opportunity to do even more UX  projects as my internship progressed.”

Parikh challenges fellow students to push boundaries and be unafraid of rejection. “I have realized there is no ‘right way’ to achieve your goals, and boundaries are self-imposed. This revelation came directly from my internship mentor. Knowing that it is possible to thrive in a space that your background doesn’t align with perfectly is proof to me that sometimes you just have to go for what you really want,” says Parikh. “Try not to take rejections too seriously. Last year was a pretty rough recruiting season for me, but I would not trade anything for the experience I got at Quisitive. The entire process just reminds me that eventually, the right company will see your value and be excited to have you.”

Parikh also currently serves as the President of the Honors Business Association (HBA), where she is an integral part of shaping BHP’s culture. “I became president at a pretty dynamic time for BHP, and the biggest lesson I have learned is how incredible the people in this program are. So many students and alumni have reached out to me to see how they could help keep the community strong during a time of so many changes. I feel extremely honored to have gotten to experience firsthand just how incredible the BHP network is, and my goal as President is to let as many students as possible experience that for themselves.”

Finally, Parikh is looking forward to all of the initiatives, events, and work that HBA has planned for this year. “I really wanted to introduce mental health and mentorship to HBA, and the rest of the executive board also has some incredible ideas,” says Parikh. “I cannot wait to see these come to fruition throughout the year. I am really lucky to have such a passionate team working with me, and such a supportive group of faculty members that pushes us to make the organization as successful as possible. Come to HBA meetings!”