Majors: Canfield BHP, Plan II, Government
Position: Research and Product Development Intern
Topics of Interest: Entrepreneurship, Women’s Empowerment, Civil Discourse, and Education
From her time as a Research and Product Development Intern to her insightful exploration of India, while conducting personal research, Brooke Reaves goes in-depth about her experiences as an intern and student seeking karma this summer.
Brooke is a junior at Canfield BHP and as a Business Honors, Plan II, and Government major, she has a full plate this year. She recently spent time interning at TaskUs, a global tech outsourcing company that delivers next-generation business strategy, process optimization, revolutionary technology, and the best talent available. Brooke spoke to me about her projects and overall experience working as a Research and Product Development Intern and described her learnings.
On her travels abroad, Brooke talked to us about her wonderful experience as a student studying in India as part of her Plan II sanctioned research on women’s education and entrepreneurship. We also learn about how she worked with an organization called Women on Wheels that helps to promote a woman’s right to drive in India.
Tell me about your internship at TaskUs.
View from TaskUs Austin office
TaskUs is a Global tech outsourcing company. They work with several firms to help maximize their customer experience and customer service offerings. I specifically worked on a solo project building a business case and recommending a corporate strategy to upscale their workers from entry-level workers to high skilled workers so they can become even better competitors in highly saturated marketplaces.
What sorts of projects were you involved in?
I performed research, shadowed employees, built a financial model, and got to research different types of training programs. Specifically, I conducted market research and utilized financial models, just like we do in Canfield BHP classes, and built a slide deck that I presented at the firm. Essentially, I was able to build a business case and presented it to the executive team which included the SVP of Client Services (my boss), CCO (Chief Client Officer), and CEO at TaskUs. It’s not normal for interns to be given this much responsibility on a solo project and the amount of trust that I was given felt unparalleled. This was a genuinely amazing opportunity and I’m grateful to have had the chance to do this.
I also had the opportunity to oversee the education program at TaskUs. This program provides a variety of educational programming to entry-level workers who may or may not have some college training. It serves to elevate their skill sets in any field they want and enables them to take on new roles within the firm. My job was to develop the education program and build a solid case that would help convince the board to preserve it.
Tell us about the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.
Working on a solo project like this is a lot of responsibility. Normally, you can build off of each other’s strengths in a Canfield BHP class. If you have questions or problems, you can go to each other. For me, it was increasingly challenging because I had questions. I had to do more research and dig in to find potential ways to come up with a solution before asking my boss. I wanted to show my boss that I had already tried doing everything I could to find an answer before coming to him. I wanted to prove that I was trying my hardest and taking the time and effort rather than coming off as an ignorant intern who just needed to be babysat. They gave me so much responsibility and I wanted to do my best with it. They gave me a lot of freedom because they trusted me. It was a wonderful experience and I loved it so much.
Any advice for current students?
Take advantage of every opportunity you get. I know it sounds cheesy but all I had to do with my boss was just ask him. He didn’t offer me the chance to sit in on a sales department visit. I just asked him. I said, “Hey, I got this email by accident. I think this potential client is going to visit. Is it possible that I can I sit in?” He thought it would be a cool idea and it worked out. This wasn’t something that was given to me. I had to pursue it and be eager to show up. I had to be willing to be there and ready to learn from a different department. As interns, you just expect to stay in your lane and do your work but if you reach outside your comfort zone or job description of your internship, you’ll find there can be a lot of opportunities available and you’ll have an even better experience.
How was your time in India? What piqued your interest in traveling there?
Brooke visiting the Taj Mahal
I did a section on Indian literature in my Plan II World Literature class freshman year and loved it. We read the Ramayana and it was amazing. It’s probably one of my favorite books that I’ve ever read. That was what initially interested me in the country and the culture. Then I saw that Plan II provides a scholarship grant every summer that offers $2500. To earn the scholarship, you propose a country and why you want to visit, then if you win, you get selected to go. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to explore a culture that I had very little knowledge about.
How do you apply for that scholarship and how does it work?
India Gate in Mumbai
You propose the country and research topic then create a formal report. Then you have to perform independent research or conduct personal discovery of that topic. I proposed women’s education and entrepreneurship. While I was there, I arranged informal interviews with a handful of women in small businesses and got the opportunity to work with an organization called Women On Wheels. They work to promote women driving cars in India, which is still unpopular and to a certain extent, stigmatized in India. I had many conversations when I was with these drivers about what it was like to be part of an initiative like that. We also visited a restaurant that is run entirely by acid attack survivors, as part of that personal research, and I was able to speak to and learn from these women and their experiences as well.
What were your key takeaways from the trip?
Friends in Pushkar
It was overwhelming in the best way possible. It made me think about the happenstance of birth, and just how lucky I am to be at UT and be born in the US. Especially as a woman, having that amount of opportunity in my life is a gift. It’s not part of the norm in many parts of the world and some parts of India to have that level of opportunity. However, in India, there’s so much hope and progress in this area. There’s plenty of room for advancements but they’re definitely at the forefront of women’s rights. However, the privilege of being born in the US just can’t be emphasized enough.
If you’re interested in studying abroad in India, Brooke highly recommends learning about the culture in advance. Culture shock is a real thing that can happen if you don’t prepare for it. She explains that power outages are commonplace, the water quality is questionable throughout the country, and bottled water is king. Nonetheless, Brooke fell in love with the people and the culture of India. If you like the color pink, she highly recommends the city of Jaipur, which is filled with beautiful pink buildings accenting the city. If you prefer a touristy locale, visit the neighboring city called Udaipur which is known as the Venice of India. Oh, and did we mention the monkeys?