Student Spotlight: Eileen Bau

Written by Stephanie Cantu

Eileen Bau

Majors: Business Honors, Plan II Honors, Marketing

Company: BHW Group, Austin, TX

Topics: Online Publications, Creative Work, Music/Entertainment

Junior Eileen Bau is currently enrolled in rigorous academic courses for her joint degrees in Business Honors and Marketing as well as the Plan II Honors Program, but that doesn’t mean she can’t be creative too. “I’m currently working on a piece called ‘Why the Shrek Soundtrack Slaps.’ It’s an analysis of a couple of songs from the Shrek 1 and 2 soundtracks and why they went over so well with audiences.” This piece was eventually published in UT’s online music publication, Afterglow, where Eileen serves as a writer. She is also the design director for Apricity Magazine, which is an annual multimedia global arts magazine that competes at the collegiate level.

Eileen applied to these two publications because she didn’t feel like she was doing creative work that could go into her portfolio. She shares, “I never knew what I wanted to do growing up or coming into college, but I now know that I want to work in pop culture, media, entertainment, music, fashion. I realized that having experiences that were more creative and that could produce work for my portfolio was more conducive to interviewing and applying to more creative brands. I wanted to show that throughout college I had solid business experience for my first two years, but that I was also able to pursue passion projects.”

In the fall, Eileen continued an internship she started over the summer with BHW Group, a custom web and mobile app development company. Her job duties included building links between the company’s website and other websites in order to boost the page’s rank on Google. She served as the main point of contact between BHW and other websites and was also responsible for figuring out what kind of content to create. “I learned through this internship that while I can do SEO stuff, I really want to work in brand strategy. I really liked the content strategy part of my role, which was thinking about which content we should put out and what is relevant right now.” She credits the rigor of Canfield BHP and Plan II classes as the most valuable preparation for her internship. “Regardless of what you learn in class, you’re never going to be able to learn everything that you have to know for a certain role because roles are very specific and companies are very specific about what they want done. So, it’s more about how fast you can learn on the job and how well you can adapt. I think having to adapt quickly to my harder classes has helped with that kind of training.”

Despite the challenges of being in two honors programs, Eileen finds reward in the diversity of things she gets to learn. “Having a balance is really important because otherwise it’s really easy to get pigeonholed into just one thing. I think [being a joint major] also gives you a competitive edge because you have a very diverse viewpoint, and a very diverse way of looking at things and problem-solving.” Eileen also encourages current students to pursue what they are passionate about, which can aid in developing these diverse perspectives. “In college when you’re shorter on time, if you get roped into things that you are ultimately not passionate about, it will show up in your work; it’s not a silly thing to pursue what you like,” she advises.

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.”

Student Spotlight: Aaron Birenbaum

AaronAaron Birenbaum

Position: Corporate Development Summer Analyst

Majors: BHP, Plan II Honors, Finance

Company: Molex, Chicago, Illinois

Topics: Finance, M&A, Corporate Development

Aaron Birenbaum is a fourth-year Business Honors, Plan II Honors, and Finance major. This summer, he interned at Molex in Chicago as a Corporate Development Summer Analyst. “I worked for my company’s mergers and acquisitions group, so most of my job centered around understanding potential targets for my company to acquire. My time was mainly split between researching targets by reading through their earnings reports and market research reports, using Excel to create models with numbers that reflect my research-based hypothesis, and creating slide decks that explain my valuation model as well as qualitative factors that make the target valuable to acquire,” says Birenbaum. “I learned how to research companies, which I never thought would be an important skill. Reading a company’s earnings reports can be intimidating, and it takes practices to pick out the important information. I learned how to quickly create Excel models that serve as a good ‘gut check’ for how you think a company will perform. Additionally, I became much more skilled at creating slide decks, which is more difficult than it sounds.”

Birenbaum’s path to landing his internship was lengthy, but he was well-prepared for it. “The road to my internship was pretty standard, albeit on the long side,” says Birenbaum. “I had a phone interview, Skype interview, and on-site interview in Chicago before receiving my offer. To prepare for my interviews, I studied finance questions commonly found in investment banking interviews and researched potential stocks I would consider buying. Studying turned out to be helpful because, for my second round and much of my third round, the interviewer spent the entire time asking me various valuation questions and principles I learned from Finance 357H.”

Additionally, Birenbaum credits the Business Honors Program and his extracurricular activities with helping to prepare him for his internship. “BHP gave me a lot of the background knowledge I needed to perform my job. While every company has a different way of doing things and a different culture, it helps to have that strong business sense built up though BHP classes to ensure I’m never completely out of my comfort zone. For my job specifically, that background helped me understand the intricacies of a valuation target and how I can accurately reflect those details in my models,” says Birenbaum. “There are two major extracurriculars where I focus my time are Undergraduate Business Council and the UT Student Government Supreme Court. These organizations have helped me understand how I should logically approach problems, breaking them down in ways that make the overall problem easier to tackle.

Set to graduate in the spring, Birenbaum’s advice to younger students is to use the resources at their disposal, especially upperclassmen. “I think younger students too often shy away from asking older students about their job experiences, which is kind of a shame. Underclassmen should know that upperclassmen are happy to explain what they thought about their general career path of their specific companies’ cultures and co-workers. This is especially true in BHP where students work so hard to help each other. So, my advice for students, particularly freshmen, is to not feel nervous about asking for advice,” says Birenbaum. “Additionally, really think hard about why you want to pursue a certain career. People are often unhappy because they chose the wrong career path after being pushed into it by family and friends. You should focus on what you want out of life. “

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!”