his is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Susmita Roy, COL ’19/WH ’19

When I arrived this summer in New Brunswick, New Jersey, my first stop wasn’t the apartment, it was a hospital down the street, St. Peter’s. Why here? This is where my twin sister and I were born almost 22 years ago. As we entered the waiting room, my mom teared up a bit and kept telling me how our lives started here, and how 21 years later, life had brought me back here. I didn’t think too much of it as I had spent most of my life in Cleveland, Ohio, where I had moved when I was four and the place I called my hometown. By the end of the summer, I gained a new appreciation for this circle of life, being to learn more about my birthplace while also having a fantastic summer experience.

This summer, I had the immense pleasure of working at Johnson & Johnson for the Consumer Business Development group. There, I spent time in the Mergers & Acquisitions group and focused not only on ongoing deals, but also presenting my own material on possible strategic fits in different categories of skincare, over-the-counter, and in wound care.

To be able to present possible acquisition ideas to my managers, I first had to conduct research and become a mini-expert in each category. Therefore, for the first month of my internship, I mostly read up on trends in each category and sought to find out why they were doing as well as they were. It was fascinating to see how consumer behavior has transformed in the past couple of years and how big corporations like Johnson &Johnson are adapting in order to remain competitive in the field, especially with the rise of small businesses and startups. What especially has helped these small startups however, was the transparency they provided on how the product was created, something that is extremely valuable to consumers who are now educating themselves more than previous generations.

I, of course, hadn’t come to this conclusion by myself. My research, coupled with their strategic plan, provided me the foundation to succeed and be able to present the material in a successful fashion. Compiling what I had learned, I then did research on what companies could be of possible interest to J&J. One of the most impactful presentations I had was in the wound care sector, where I presented on possible natural wound care companies, who were leaders in innovation and transparent with what ingredients they used. One of the companies I found, actually made it to the next round of evaluation, something I was proud of. Overall, this summer was a fantastic experience because as a Biology and Healthcare management minor, I continue to find my place in the healthcare industry. With help from the funding, I was able to take a step in the right direction this summer and find something really exciting and engaging, with the hopes of making a positive impact

Not a House of Cards

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Yuan Zou, COL ’19

In case you don’t know: DC summer internships are not just about building the “House of Cards.”

Summer is the busy time for crops to build their strength ahead of fall, and the past ten weeks in Washington DC was a growing season for me too. During this summer I worked at APIAVote, a national nonprofit that aims to promote voting and other forms of civic engagement in Asian American communities across the country. Without a doubt, the lessons that I learned from the internship are rich and impactful. Also, with the financial assistance from Penn Career service, I was able to embrace the rich cultural diversity exhibited in DC and the surrounding area.

The internship allowed me to observe the passionate and active aspects of life in DC that rarely gets outside appreciation. Initially, it was hard to transition my worldview out from the cynical perceptions that DC was a “House of Cards,” but my interaction with other activists and professionals changed my mindset. Along the way, I saw organizers, who would spend hours in calls to come up with strategies to engage with local communities, and activists who were willing to put their energy and sometimes their safety on the line to send messages to the administration. The commitment and effort of these real heroes behind the scenes helped make the world we live in a better place.

Moreover, different from my previous impressions that people in DC are always looking up in the sky, folks in the DC nonprofit/activism circle are often working on the niche but substantive issues. Several days before the end of my internship I went to a workshop that focused on explaining the consequences of including the citizenship question in the 2020 Census questionnaire forms. On the surface, asking Asian folks to check boxes stating whether they are American citizens seemed trivial and harmless. However, since a majority of Asians in this country are immigrants, and the U.S had a history of using census data against immigrant groups, including the citizenship question will deter Asian respondents from completing the questionnaires. Waking out of the session, I was surprised by the impact of this seemingly minor issue and felt a bit embarrassed for the reason that I did not have these facts in mind before the session. Nonetheless, on the way back to my office, I thought about the work that I do and realized: although my tasks centered around the simple theme of helping people to cast votes, the meaning behind was something bigger, something more impactful. Last (but not least), with the funding from Penn Career Service, I had the opportunity to engage with various cultures and people from different walks of life. Rising housing prices and gentrification have been an ongoing problem in the city for long, and without sufficient funding, summer in DC can easily translate into prolonged commutes. Luckily, the summer funding allows me to stay in downtown DC and have a chance to attend events, workshops, and conference without adding more burden to my schedule. Moreover, having the grant also empowers me to discover different communities and neighborhoods and interact with local folks. Their stories might not be as eye-catching as Smithsonian exhibitions, or congressional hearings are, but they give more textures and weights to my DC experience.

Managing Product at a Mission-Driven Startup

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Carmen Lau, WH ’20

This summer at CariClub as a Product Management Intern was an exhilarating and fast-paced learning experience. CariClub is a B2B SaaS (business-to-business, software as a service) startup that connects young professionals with nonprofits to help them raise money, plan events, and further their impact. Our clients include Fortune 500 companies such as Deloitte, KKR, Morgan Stanley, and more.

My 11-week internship gave me a chance to leverage the fundamental business knowledge I learned in my first 2 years at Wharton and apply it to product strategy so that we can satisfy the needs of our company, customers, and nonprofit partners. I was given a lot of responsibility and autonomy as I oversaw a team of 5 designers and developers to make improvements to our platform and build out new features. I created guidelines for prioritizing product decisions and set and oversaw the execution of an 8-week product roadmap.

One of my main projects during the summer was leading the creation of the world’s first online associate board builder tool for nonprofits. An “associate board” is a group of young professionals who volunteer their time and skills to help a nonprofit. Since it is still a fairly new concept for nonprofits, we built a web application that asks questions about the size, mission, roles, and responsibilities of the board they want to make, then takes their responses to create a personalized charter. This will be critical in raising funding and scaling our service.

But business needs aside, when at a mission-driven company, you always have to think about your purpose and your “why”. So I set a mission statement for the team and wrote it on the whiteboard as a reminder: “Create a product so awesome that every time a user logs on, they become excited about the change they can create in the world.” This was my North Star throughout my internship, and reminded me of the team’s role in the company and the significance of our work. I really believe that our work is centered around helping nonprofits make a bigger impact on their communities, and what I wrote was later adopted as the official mission statement of the team.

Outside of working hours, I got to explore New York City and stayed at a hacker loft in Brooklyn, where I met people from around the world who were photographers, artists, musicians, programmers, travelers, and more. I read design and business books to further develop my skills and foundational knowledge. I was finding fulfillment in my work, and also the community around me in a wonderful city.

Thanks to the support of the summer funding award, I was able to have an incredibly fulfilling internship and summer. Raised by a single mother and the first person from my town to attend Penn, a summer like this for me to pursue my passions would not have been possible without financial assistance. I definitely want to continue working in the tech industry, and look forward to exploring more product-related roles in the future.

Experiencing the Best of DC

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Hayley Boote, COL ’20

Washington, D.C. truly lived up to the myth of being a swamp this summer — but not in a political sense.  High temperatures and even higher humidity made my internship feel more like the Everglades than just 150 miles south of West Philly. Despite the near constant battle with frizzy hair, my D.C. experience was career-enlightening and exciting. D.C. in general is an exciting place for a young person right now, especially a young person interested in public service and politics. Some of my personal highlights were the 4th of July Celebration on the National Mall, the National Portrait Galleries, and discovering &pizza! Even with the excitement, it was truly my work that amazed me the most this summer.

            The U.S. State Department is known internationally as an organization that furthers US influence and policy goals. An internship at the U.S. Department of State offered me an unparalleled opportunity to work in the federal government in a learning capacity. As an undergraduate majoring in Political Science, this role allows me to gain real public policy experience in the place where U.S. foreign policy is made.  Simply, there is no other organization that can provide such an opportunity for learning.  The chance to work for such a renowned agency, while enhancing my experience in public service and communication, was singularly important for my personal career goals.

During my time at State I worked in the Bureau of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, in the office of the U.S. Diplomacy Center.  The Center is an public/private initiative to inform the American public about the role of U.S. diplomacy historically and presently, through educational programs and a future museum. My office is nonpartisan and nonpolitical, meaning that we are only working for the mission of the U.S. government, not a particular agenda. As a communications and data analytics intern, I built surveys, create visualizations of our engagement data, wrote an foreign policy crisis simulation, facilitated educational programs and simulations, and helped plan a hackathon for college students and young coders.  All of these experiences really changed the game for me professionally; I had never before wrote with HTML or used Tableau, and by the end of the summer I had gained proficiency in skills I had never even known existed.  Even in areas in which I thought I was seasoned, like public speaking, I grew in way I could not have anticipated. Part of my job included facilitating foreign policy crisis simulations with students, educators, and scholars; acting as a chairwoman for a conference with different, feuding stakeholder groups trying to solve an international crisis together.  Keeping teams on track, trying to feed them breadcrumbs to get to a tenable solution,  and helping them to negotiate effectively were just a small part of the 180 minute, life-like simulation.  This experience gave me insight into how people negotiate and how they tried to persuade other teams, which was very unexpectedly valuable piece of my work as a student pursuing a psychology minor. The great thing about working for the federal government is that you are never bored — there is always a solution to a problem that you could be looking for. I learned first-hand this summer the long hours and challenging obstacles that our public servants endure.  The work ethic at State and other similar federal agencies is not commonly known, but was incredibly eye-opening for me. I loved being a part of that atmosphere and community, and the skills I learned only added to an all-around amazing experience.

Exploring Law in an International Context

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Cindy Luo, COL ’20

While I was interning abroad at the University of Minho Law School in Braga, Portugal, most of my weeks consisted of assisting the Assistant Dean in editing and compiling articles and master’s theses for an electronic law journal as well as going over research proposals and using databases to find specific sources. This was my first introduction to this type of work, and although I have no legal background, I thoroughly enjoyed the process of learning as I go and applying my new knowledge with each task. For me, one of the highlights of this internship experience actually happened in a classroom because I had the unique opportunity to take a LL.M. class in the European and Transglobal Business Law Department titled: “Legal Aspects of Investment in China”.

This class was taught by a Chinese professor who told us that it was her first time teaching a class in English. Initially, I was very intimidated to take a class with graduate students taught by a Chinese professor, but my fears and apprehension was soon overtaken by sheer curiosity and determination to engage with new people, new ideas, and new ways of learning. Professor Yi really emphasized comparative legal systems and frameworks; she encouraged us to engage in open dialogue and discussion about how the law works in our respective home countries whether it be Portugal or China or Brazil or the United States, etc.

In learning about the legal aspects of investment in China, I got my first taste of business law, international taxation law, contract law, and intellectual property law, all explained through a global context. While these fields of law never explicitly appealed to me as much as human rights law, immigration law, or criminal law, I was able to see how all these different fields are interconnected and relate in one way or another to social change and progress. Taking this course in conjunction with this internship allowed me to appreciate the universality of the rule of law and what it essentially means for people living in different parts of the world. It allowed me to think about the gap between what is written and what is actually practiced.  

Throughout this course and this internship, I also thought a lot about what I potentially want to do after graduation, and particularly if law school is the right choice for me. Our final assignment for the class was to present and analyze a case study, gathering the basic facts of the case, the disputes, the legal issues, the judgement and reasoning. The hardest part of the assignment was making sense of the legal procedures in the case and interpreting the outcome through what I perceived to be very convoluted legal writing. But by the end of the class, however, I was proud of being able to contextualize what I learned about the Chinese legal system and framework of laws in relation to investment. More so than understanding the content, I was proud of being able to decode the complex, technical legal language. Likewise, the topics and the terminology of the articles and theses that I was editing became much more comprehensible after the class. All in all, critical thinking, logical analysis, and organized legal writing are some of the most important skills to develop as a potential law student; having this opportunity here in Portugal has been integral in helping me do that. As I come back to Penn and enter my junior year, I hope to be able to explore law on a deeper level and to gain more exposure to different fields of law. (I will be taking a Law & Social Change class as well as acting as the ambassador for the Law & Policy Sociology Interest Group). I am still finding my way and figuring things out, but this experience showed me that I have what it takes to succeed in law school if or when I choose to go. Being abroad here in Portugal and interning at the University of Minho Law School has taught me how to practice flexibility and patience–with myself, with others, and with the world. You can choose to learn at your own pace, and there’s certainly a difference between taking your time and wasting your time. I learned to trust my instincts and to be more self-confident in going after what I want. I understand that you do not have to be the smartest person in the room to contribute something valuable. You do not have to be the most outspoken to have your voice heard. And you do not have to have a law degree to help someone. You just have to be willing and open-minded and embrace the challenges, uncertainty, and failures that come along with the process. Understand