Intern Spotlight: Janelly Areche

Written by Carrie Cruces

Janelly Areche

Majors: Business Honors, Management Information Systems, Plan II Honors

Position: Project Supervisor

Company: Amigos de las Americas

Topics: Work abroad, Nonprofit, Presentation Skills

Jannelly Areche is a Canfield BHP sophomore from Houston, Texas, who is also majoring in Plan II and Management Information Systems (MIS). She recently had the opportunity to intern with Amigos de las Americas in Costa Rica during her freshman summer in 2018. Amigos de las Americas is a nonprofit organization with 25 chapters across the U.S. Its mission is to inspire positive change in communities around the world by leading collaborative community development programs and cross-cultural immersion experiences typically over the summer and gap years. She felt challenged by the experience from the moment she arrived in Costa Rica, when she found herself leaving the airport with only an email of instruction on how to arrive at the Staff House three hours away. She had to backpack from one community to another every day as she worked with the local nonprofit Casa de la Juventud, which focused on sustainable projects in Latin America.

As Project Supervisor, she was in charge of preparing the community for the volunteers’ arrival and conducting bilingual trainings and workshops for them once they arrived. She visited all 50 volunteers every weekday to provide emotional and health support and to monitor their progress in the community-led project, stepping in to assist with problem-solving when necessary. On the weekends, she would lead camp retreats to different communities around the province, which consisted of working on projects and engaging in workshops that the community would choose. “My favorite part of the program was the weekends,” she shared. “It encouraged a blend of cultures because each participant needed to invite a local youth from their host communities to join them.”

The final project: a playground in El Pilar

Jannelly credits her freshman honors classes with preparing her for this internship, particularly the professional communication class (B A 324H), which developed her communication and presentation skills. She says she constantly used them throughout her internship when speaking to community members and leading meetings. B A 324H provided her with the opportunity to practice presenting constantly, which boosted her confidence when speaking in front of an entire community during a large community dinner.

Jannelly offers the following advice for current and prospective students: “Coming into this large university, it can be daunting to see all of the different paths you can take. Especially being in a business school, you might feel pressured to get an internship in the corporate world. While it is great to get business experience, it is not necessary. In the words of Marie Kondo, you should choose your involvement based on what sparks joy. Do not feel forced to take on a role because of how professional it sounds. Choose your involvement because of how much you genuinely enjoy doing the work, the impact it has on the community, and the opportunities for growth.”

Outside of class, Jannelly is involved in various organizations on campus, such as the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), Student Government, Orange Jackets, and 180 Degrees Consulting, which she says help her create a positive impact in her community. In addition to her involvement in these organizations, she holds a leadership role in ALPFA as their Service Outreach Director. In this role, Jannelly hosts service events with a variety of nonprofits around Austin with the goal of encouraging ALPFA members to identify which causes are important to them and providing them opportunities to do so.

 

Student Spotlight: Graham Smith

Written by Nandita Daga

Graham Smith

Majors: Business Honors, International Business with Entrepreneurship minor

Company: SMH International Consulting, Shanghai, China

Topics: International Business, Study Abroad, Global Learning

Graham Smith is a junior Business Honors, International Business major, and Entrepreneurship minor who spent his sophomore summer in Shanghai interning at SMH International Consulting. His desire to immerse himself in different cultures began after his freshman year with a Canfield BHP study abroad experience in Argentina, which he calls “transformative” in opening his eyes to the world of international business.

In Argentina, Graham took a course entitled Non-Market Strategies in Emerging Markets, which discussed tactics for successfully conducting business in emerging markets with unpredictability related to institutional voids, governmental regulation, and cultural differences. He was able to use these lessons during his internship in China. Although he faced a harsh communication barrier, his colleagues and peers understood a basic level of English and with patience on his part, he formulated strong friendships and was able to delve into the political and cultural scene.

While in Shanghai, he also took on another challenge: developing a team proposal for The President’s Award for Global Learning. This initiative grants $25,000 to seven teams to implement a project outside the United States in categories of entrepreneurship, social impact, or furthering research. Graham’s interdisciplinary team, spanning business, computer science, and liberal arts, partnered with a public education nonprofit, FUNPRES, and a host school, Colegio Don Bosco, to introduce computational thinking education in El Salvador. While ultimately not selected for the award, Graham finished the experience with a 76-page proposal and invaluable skills in project development, international relations, and interdisciplinary thinking.

Graham will be in Costa Rica this summer as part of a Texas McCombs Social Entrepreneurship Practicum. To secure an internship in Costa Rica following the practicum, he has been reaching out and building relationships with potential employers. It is telling of his charismatic personality that these connections have transformed into friendships. Graham’s mission in life is “to inspire people to be unapologetically themselves,” and it is no surprise that his sincerity and authenticity endear him to people across the world.

His path has not been entirely straightforward, however. He started off in McCombs as a Business Honors and Finance student, then switched to Management, and later Marketing, feeling unsatisfied with all of them. Although International Business is not a common major and is often viewed as impractical for getting a job, Graham invokes a Jim Carrey quote: “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” He points out that on an international campus like UT’s, there are numerous opportunities if you look for them.

Graham immerses himself in his surroundings. For the last year, he’s been going to Ecstatic Dance Austin every Sunday. It’s a place where people come together and free form dance to global music. He also listens to 5 hours of Spotify a day (Grateful Dead and The Beatles are his top artists), enjoys meditating on campus at the James Turrell Skyspace, and likes reading philosophy in his hammock. If interested in hearing more about his own experiences, be sure to reach out – you’ll leave the conversation a little bit more enlightened about the world around you.

Student Profile: Oby Umelloh

Oby Umelloh

Majors: Business Honors, Management Information Systems, minor in African & African Diaspora Studies

Position: Business Development Intern

Company: Microsoft

Topics: Technology, Coding, Service

Oby Umelloh is currently a fourth-year student who spent this past summer as a Business Development Intern in Microsoft’s Seattle office. “My specific role was to look at what areas a product might go into in the next few years and determine what companies we should partner with versus acquire to help us fill various functionality gaps and enter new regions in the next fiscal year,” says Umelloh. Because of her internship, Umelloh will be returning to Microsoft in August to start a full-time position where she will rotate through Microsoft’s different business sectors for one year. “I really like the culture and vibe at Microsoft. They really believe in growth mindset. Over the summer, even when I felt like I failed miserably at something, they encouraged me to try again and learn from my mistakes. I see this as a great place to start, learn, and grow as much as possible.”

Umelloh found her internship by attending a Microsoft dinner co-hosted by McCombs’s affinity groups. “There were about 60 people there and only 2 Microsoft recruiters, so I didn’t end up talking to one of them until the very end of the event. I was worried he was going to be tired and fatigued, but we just hit it off and had a great conversation about non-recruiting stuff like family and what my interests were.” Without a doubt, Umelloh had plenty of interests, activities, and experiences to share with the recruiter: She’s studied abroad in both South Africa and Hong Kong, interned for a nonprofit in South Africa, taught at a technology summer camp, and is involved in Code Orange, a campus organization dedicated to increasing technical literacy in underserved Austin communities.

“The campus activity I’m most passionate about is Code Orange because I’m very passionate about technical and digital literacy for underrepresented communities. Through Code Orange, I met a friend who was doing a program called iD Tech Camp in Houston. I was looking for programs that would help me teach children that might not have the opportunity to learn coding skills in their schools or have strong STEM programs, and iD Tech Camp was the perfect opportunity for me.”

Her desire to “pay it forward” through programs like Code Orange and iD Tech is influenced by mentors who helped her pave her own pathway into technology. “I was not a coding person at all in high school. When I took MIS 301, I remember reading this passage in the textbook about internet connectivity in underdeveloped countries, and it really resonated with me because my family is Nigerian. It made me want to become an MIS major so I could contribute to this issue of making internet more accessible. Then I took MIS 304 with Caryn Conley (who is a BHP alum) and she made me believe in myself and my ability to code. She and my MIS 333K professor (Katie Gray, also a CBHP alum!) empowered me and gave me the confidence to pursue coding and other technical fields.”

Umelloh also credits her Canfield BHP classes with preparing her to enter the workforce. “There’s something in every class that can be related back to the job. In Statistics (STA 371H) with James Scott, I was really forced to have a data-driven approach to analyses and get over any preconceived notions I had about what the outcome would be. And in (Robert) Prentice’s Business Law (LEB 323H) class, I’m learning about all the ethical considerations of decision-making, which is especially relevant in tech because there’s so much grey area.” Reflecting upon her experiences in the program, she shares the following advice for current and prospective students: “If I could talk to my former self, I would tell myself not to worry so much about the physical manifestations of intelligence, like your grades or how you compare to the statistics of the class as a whole. I would tell myself to instead focus more on what I’m learning and how I can get the most out of each class. Eventually, college will be over and all you’ll be left with is what you learned, not the grade you received.”

Intern Spotlight: Jessica Breckenridge – HEB Customer Insights

Jessica Breckenridge

Position: Customer Insights Intern

Majors: BHP, Marketing

Company: H-E-B Grocery Company, San Antonio, Texas

Topics: Brand Design, Virtual Platforms

 

 

What were you doing in your role?

I interned in the Customer Insights Center, H-E-B’s internal research department. I worked with the Packaging and Brand Design Manager to investigate questions around H-E-B’s Own Brand products by brainstorming research questions, fielding and documenting studies with customers, and sharing findings with key stakeholders across the company. Apart from that, my primary project this summer was to spearhead the search for digital efficiency solutions within our department. I focused on virtual platforms and recruitment strategies and had the opportunity to lead the search from early exploration to the beginning rounds of testing. I developed platform criteria, evaluated and negotiated with top market research vendors, and collaborated with teams across H-E-B to map use cases and implementation paths.

Biggest lesson you learned, or ways you grew from this internship?

I learned that I can succeed, thrive even, outside of my comfort zone. Prior to this internship, I had no knowledge about digital platforms, and yet I ended up leading the search for one. I had to embrace my learning role and ask questions constantly. Luckily, H-E-B is very welcoming to curiosity, and while many of my questions were simply for me to learn the ropes, some of them also ended up sparking some pretty important conversations in the department. I felt excited and encouraged by the amount of responsibility I was given.

What did you like most about the internship?

The people, hands down. H-E-B’s company culture is felt at every level and every interaction. My fellow interns were kind, enthusiastic peers and my management teams made incredible mentors. The Customer Insights Center valued me as a true member of the team, welcoming me into the heart of the business and challenging me to perform my best. The respect they gave me pushed me to pour my energy into my role and explore any question that crossed my mind. I was also able to learn a lot about how I work and about what types of teams and leaders best fit that work style.

Anything else you want to point out to other students about your internship experience?

Be open to opportunity. This summer took me from marketing and research (makes sense) into product management, data security, and law & privacy (never saw this coming). I followed this path with inquisitiveness and an open mind, and although it wasn’t what I expected to be doing, the breadth of exposure allowed me to really picture a defined career for myself for the first time.

Intern Spotlight: Avish Patel – Avia-Tek

Avish Patel

Majors: BHP, Finance, Pre-Med

Company: Avia-Tek, Shanghai, China

Topics: Aerospace, Airlines, Finance, Emerging Markets, China

What were you doing in your role?

I got to put on a lot of different hats throughout my time at Avia-Tek. Initially, I was doing market research on the Chinese aerospace industry, and aircraft leasing and financial structures. After that I did sourcing work to find aircraft parts for trading and maintenance. Towards the middle of the internship I did finance-related work in the form of financial modeling and planning. For the last few weeks I learned how to code a bit in Python (I’m a Finance/Pre-Med major), and then wrote a program that streamlined supply chain processes within the company and for clients.

Biggest lesson you learned or ways you grew from this internship:

Becoming a quick-learner was by far the biggest lesson learned from this internship. I came in to the internship expecting to do work related only to Finance, but I was given a variety of projects that often I knew nothing about. In addition, being that I’m going into my sophomore year I haven’t had any major specific courses making the learning curve even larger. For every project I took on while at Avia-Tek I had to find time to teach myself what I didn’t know often times meaning that I was taking my work home or working later. Especially for my last project which included coding, I had no coding background whatsoever, but I had to learn quickly, and eventually came out with a successful deliverable.

What did you like most about the internship?

Although the free lunches were amazing, the best part of the internship was definitely the variety of projects I got put on. Even though I was a rising sophomore with limited experience my boss constantly tried to test me with new projects or things completely out of the scope of my major through things like coding and even working at photoshoots. This left me with a much wider scope of knowledge and experience, in addition to a great internship.

Did you get to experience living in a new city? If so, what was that like for you?

Living in Shanghai was amazing and lots of fun. Shanghai is like living in New York or LA minus all the English requiring me to learn a considerable amount of Chinese. It is very fast-paced, and always alive. Bargaining is an actual thing in China making shopping much more fun. The nightlife there is endless very diverse. The food was great! I got to try lots of foods I definitely wouldn’t have tried in America. Being that Shanghai was very central I got to travel around China to places like the Great Wall and Huangshan Mountain (the mountain that Avatar was based on). Overall, Shanghai was an amazing place to spend 3 months interning!

Anything else you want to point out to other students about your internship experience:

Although interning abroad is somewhat intimidating it is something that I feel like it is an experience more people should try. Although everything from workplace culture to language is completely different it makes every single moment a learning experience.