Views from the Cube: Baxter International Intern Taylor Riley

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Just like most millennials, I have always wanted to do something that benefits the community, both locally and internationally.  This summer I was given the opportunity to work at Baxter International, Inc. in Round Lake, Illinois in the Drug Development department.  I have had an avid interest in Chemistry, and was happy to be able to gain more hands-on experience and see the chemical side of the healthcare industry.

To summarize, my team’s job was to test the stability of several drugs over different time lengths and in a variety of storage conditions.  We ran various chemical tests which included measuring the pH to learn the acidity of the drug, conducting a high-performance liquid chromatography to identify the different components and impurities in the drug, and performing a karl fischer test to measure the amount of water in the drug.  Not only did I get to conduct some of these tests on my own, but I was able to shadow various other scientists to learn more about the range of tests they run and their day-to-day schedule.  One of my most memorable times was visiting the pilot plant at the facility to assist in the packaging of a drug in numerous IV bags.

I had a good balance of desk work as well as being in the lab to conduct tests.  I was glad to be able to apply some of the information that I had learned in my classes during my sophomore and junior years to the work I was doing this summer, and actually contribute to my team.  My boss put me in charge of my own study, where I was responsible for conducting the tests, analyzing the data, and writing the final report.   It was eye-opening to see all the steps and hard work that goes into the drug development process.

Apart from the working aspect, the summer internship program at Baxter does a great job of building a welcoming community.  They truly strive to develop their interns both professionally and as global citizens.  We had numerous social events, including attending a Cubs game and a Brewers game.  We also were divided into teams and given a non-profit organization to work with, and performed a day of service at that establishment.  Overall, it was an amazing experience and I am excited to return again in the Fall of 2015.

My name is Taylor Riley and I am a rising Senior, majoring in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Global Health.  I hope to work in a healthcare or pharmaceutical company in the future where I can have an impact on people at a global level, specifically those in developing countries.

Employer Spotlight: Q&A with Annas Rahman, ’14 NU Alum & Analyst at Mu Sigma

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Meet Mu Sigma on the first day of the Fall Internship & Job Fair on Sept. 30 & RSVP to join Mu Sigma for a Lunch & Learn on “Evolution and Vision for Decision Sciences and Analytics” Monday, Oct. 6. RSVP required in CareerCat > Events > Info Sessions.

Annas Rahman (WCAS ’14) is an Analyst at Mu Sigma.

Annas Rahman (WCAS ’14) is an Analyst at Mu Sigma.

Describe your role with Mu Sigma. What drew you to the company and how long have you worked in your role?
I have been an Analyst at Mu Sigma for over two months now. In a nutshell, we are a consulting company in the space of Big Data analytics and decision sciences. From Microsoft to Pfizer to Walmart, we work with the biggest names across all industries, about 140 fortune 500 companies to be specific. Unlike traditional consultants that travel from client-to-client each week, Mu Sigma analysts stay at one company for 12-18 months working on a wide variety of problems across different functions for that client. Currently I am working with a large insurance client in Chicago.

I have always been interested in solving business problems. I also have a data-driven, analytical mindset that I sought to apply to my day-to-day work. Mu Sigma provided the perfect opportunity for me to combine these two interests.

What is your work and education background?
I graduated in June 2014 with a double major in Biology and Political Science. During the summers after my Freshman and Sophomore years, I worked as a Research Assistant in a microbiology lab on campus. The summer after my junior year I served as an intern on Capitol Hill with the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

What was the recruiting process like for you and what makes a candidate stand out to Mu Sigma recruiters? 
I searched CareerCat for jobs that reflected my own interests, and found that the Analyst position at Mu Sigma fit what I wanted. After submitting my resume and cover letter, I was invited to an on campus interview and a short written test. The written test is for the company to understand a candidate’s basic math aptitude and is based on topics that people learn before high school, it doesn’t have complicated math. On the interview day I had two back-to-back interviews where I spent a bit of time discussing my own background and skills, and then spent the rest of the interviews answering mock client cases. It was not a typical case interview, but more of a discussion in which I was being tested on my ability to think logically, exhaustively, and creatively.

The key to succeeding in the recruitment process is to demonstrate the primary Mu Sigma value: learning over knowing. It doesn’t matter if you are an Art History or Computer Science major, as long as you are curious, have an aptitude for working with numbers, approach problems in a structured way and exhibit willingness to learn skills and concepts unfamiliar to you, you will succeed during the recruitment process and later at Mu Sigma.

Describe a typical workday.
I arrive at work at around 8:30am and spend my morning catching up on emails and the work that was done overnight. What do I mean by that? Well, each Mu Sigma team in the U.S. has an entire support team in India. This means that at the end of each workday here in the US, we pass on the project work to the Bangalore team which continues the projects we’re working on. So when I arrive in the morning, I pick up where the offshore team left off.

I spend the rest of my day attending meetings with my client’s senior management teams to define goals for the projects, working on data to generate insights, creating and auditing the deliverables/presentations to the clients. Apart from this I have brainstorming meetings with my engagement manager and peers to design solutions to the client problems. I end my day by having a call with my offshore team in India to set expectations about the deliverables that are needed for the next day and catch up on project progress.

What’s the best thing about working for Mu Sigma?
I appreciate the opportunity to work with my own offshore team who are there to help me solve our client’s problems. The offshore team is very valuable because of the work they take on when I leave the office, the advanced technical skills they have, the unique insights they offer, and their overall contribution towards making every Mu Sigma team in the US a supremely effective 24/7 work force.

What professional advice do you have for job-seeking graduating students interested in this industry? For students who are early in their college careers?
Mu Sigma is a leader in an industry called Decision Sciences, which is a combination of math, business, technology and behavioral sciences. Mu Sigma welcomes students with all kinds of backgrounds and actually teaches new Analysts all the technical skills (Statistics, Excel, R, SQL, etc.) they need to succeed. This is done at our training center in Austin, TX for 8 weeks before you join a project team.

For the Decision Sciences industry itself, I would encourage students to grow comfortable working with statistics and basic programming. Classes in data analytics from departments such as economics, statistics, and computer science would be valuable to take advantage of. Courses that emphasize data visualization would also be very useful.

What does your work space look like?
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What gadget, office tool or program can’t you live without?
Definitely Microsoft Outlook. From exchanging emails, to sharing project documents, to scheduling meetings, Outlook is the central hub for all work that gets done. It’s tough for me to imagine how people even got things done before email and the internet!

What’s the best career or life advice you’ve received?
Be inquisitive. Question your superiors to understand their expectations, question your clients to help them clarify their problems, question the status quo to see if there is room for change, and question the world around you so that you emerge knowing more today than you did the day before.

Views from the Cube: Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey Intern Sandie Xu

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What's the view from Sandie's cube? The Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey.

What’s the view from Sandie’s cube? The Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey.

I had been involved in Girl Scouts since third grade, earning different badges, selling Thin Mint cookies, camping and traveling, and participating in service projects. I had even earned my Girl Scouts Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. Girl Scouts has always provided me with valuable experiences which built my courage, confidence, and character. Before this summer, I never really thought about the force behind the organization or what made all my experiences possible.

This summer, I worked as a Fund Development and Communications intern at Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey, which serves more than 31,000 girls and 16,000 adult volunteers throughout five counties in New Jersey. GSNNJ’s many departments – from Fund Development to Communications, from Volunteer Services to Finance – are the gears that together operate the Girl Scout machine. Throughout my internship, as I learned about corporate partnerships, departmental responsibilities, company branding, and more, I gained a better understanding of nonprofit organizations.

Working in the Fund Development department, I learned about the various methods of soliciting contributed funds for the benefit of Girl Scouting. I worked on a variety of tasks, and every day was different. A large portion of my job involved researching. I did due diligence on possible grants, potential donors, and corporate prospects. I also conducted research for fundraising events and alumnae networking activities. Additionally, I helped produce marketing materials for different campaigns. Through the Fund Development department, I learned about the importance of building relationships with individuals, foundations and corporations. I even enhanced my personal network by working directly with the Chief Development Officer, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, and Director of Special Events & Alumnae Relations at GSNNJ.

In the Communications department, I developed my writing skills and analytical skills. I helped write press releases, volunteer profiles, and internal newsletters. One of the most difficult aspects of my job was learning to write in the correct tone. Sometimes, I had to convey a more serious and formal tone; at other times, the message needed to be more fun, inviting, and casual. Most importantly, the writing needed to reflect Girl Scout’s brand. Working at a respectable organization, I had to ensure that my writing also created a positive opinion of Girl Scouts. Additionally, I analyzed GSNNJ’s press coverage, internet marketing, email campaigns, and social media presence. Throughout my internship, I learned more about Girl Scout’s internal and external communications.

My summer internship gave me insight into nonprofit organizations, in general, and Girl Scouts, in specific. I learned that behind every Girl Scout, there is a powerful managerial team. Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey has dedicated employees and volunteers who work diligently to provide meaningful and exciting experiences to inspire and encourage every girl. Through my internship at Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey, I was able to give back to an organization that has had a positive impact on my life.

Sandie Xu is a rising sophomore majoring in Economics. She is part of the Summer Internship Grant Program.

Employer Spotlight: Accenture and Me by WCAS ’13 alum Zach Von Eschen

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Meet UCS Corporate Sponsor Accenture at an info session this Thursday, Sept. 25 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. in Norris, Northwestern Room (log in to CareerCat > Events > Info Sessions to RSVP or for more information) as well as at a networking event on Friday, Sept. 26 from 6-9 p.m. at Prairie Moon in Evanston and a culture night on Friday, Oct. 3 from 6-8 p.m. at Koi in Evanston (log in to CareerCat > Events > Info Sessions for more information). Also, don’t miss Accenture on the first day of our 2-day Fall Internship & Job Fair on Tuesday, Sept. 30!

Accenture is a big company.  It’s fast paced, interesting, demanding, rewarding, fun, and an all-around great place to work.  Accenture employees perform many different functions, but I personally believe we all work toward the same goal: to make things easier for others.  I’m part of the Management Consulting practice and am aligned to work with our Health and Public Service clients.  I’m currently working for a health insurance client based in Philadelphia, traveling weekly from Chicago.  I’ve outlined some of my experiences below, to give you an idea of what it is like to work for Accenture.

I joined Accenture after graduating from Northwestern in 2013.  While at NU, I studied Economics with a minor in the Business Institutions Program.  I went through on-campus recruiting at NU and completed two separate interview days in the process – both comprised of a case interview and a confirming interview (think behavioral).   My biggest piece of advice as you go through the interview process with our firm is to place yourself in the shoes of your interviewers. Make sure that from their perspective, you act, speak, and think like someone they would be comfortable placing in front of a client immediately after your interview.  If you are clear, concise, and comfortable, you’ve already mastered the hard part.

I’ve worked at the company for nearly 16 months and have already worked for three different clients in five different cities.  What most drew me to Accenture was the ability to work on distinct projects in different industries, all within my first year or so as an employee.  To date, I’ve worked with a pharmacy benefit management company, a national grocery store chain, and currently with a health insurance company. I’ve created training and communications, worked on process improvement, and gathered business requirements for a technology implementation. The ability to pick up new and useful skills is something that Accenture values.  Accenture encourages you to explore new areas you may not already be comfortable with so that you can expand your experiences and identify your area of true passion and capability.

A typical workday for me begins in Philadelphia, where I walk among the many food carts that line the streets as I make my way to my client’s downtown office.  Once there, I review drafts of documents and PowerPoint presentations that I have created, hold meetings with our clients to gather necessary insights, and ensure our team’s deadlines are met.  Oh yeah – I also make sure to grab a cheesesteak for lunch.   I personally enjoy the travel that can come with our projects, but the people that work at Accenture are truly the best part of the job.  If you are lucky enough to begin your career at Accenture, you’ll be working with thousands of people who are probably just like you.  This makes for fun travel weeks and enjoyable times when you go out to dinner or grab a drink with your teammates.

For those that are considering consulting, whether you are currently seeking a job or the field has merely piqued your interest, I would advise you to think about what you would like to work on, but also to be open to areas or industries that may not immediately come to mind.  I believe staying open to new types of work is an attribute of the most successful employees. These people are always willing to try something new and expand their area of expertise which ultimately can make all the difference.   I was once told by a more experienced coworker that a willingness to go with the flow and learn new skills will not only make you a better employee, but will also help you advance your career at Accenture  – it’s a piece of advice I try to live by.

Accenture certainly wants to succeed as a company, but more importantly, Accenture wants you to succeed. With unparalleled resources, committed colleagues, and a tremendous breadth of opportunities – Accenture can help you in the pursuit of your goals. It’s a people helping people type of thing.

Views from the Cube: Deloitte Intern Priya Kumar

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**Meet our UCS corporate sponsor Deloitte at an information session on Friday, Sept. 26 as well as on the first day of the 2-day UCS Fall Internship & Job Fair on Tuesday, Sept. 30. More details in CareerCat. Please note: If you are unavailable to attend due to the holiday, please reach out to Sara Kobaissi (Recruiter) at skobaissi@deloitte.com to discuss other opportunities to meet the Deloitte team!**

What's the view from Priya's cube? Deloitte in Chicago!

What’s the view from Priya’s cube? Deloitte in Chicago!

As an Economics major at Northwestern, I’d seen and heard the term “consulting” everywhere — on info session flyers taped all around campus, during early morning runs to class on Sheridan and late nights in Norbucks. I’ve been lucky enough to get an opportunity to explore what the field is really all about through my experiences with Deloitte.

During my freshman year, I was accepted to the Deloitte NextGen Leaders Program, a program that brings together students around the country who are interested in leadership and consulting. Through the program, I had the opportunity to attend a 4-day conference last summer at Deloitte University, and in the process met a tremendous number of driven, passionate individuals, learned more about consulting as a field and Deloitte as a firm, and enjoyed bottomless cups of coffee!

Through the NextGen program, I was offered an internship in the Strategy & Operations Consulting division this summer, based out of the Chicago office. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed my experience this summer, developing a strong skillset and also building a great community of friends and mentors.

When asked what consultants’ day-to-day work looks like, the typical answer is “it depends, on the project, on the client, on the team.” I’ve been fortunate to get a glimpse into defining what “it depends” really means by working on two very different projects this summer. The first was a Mergers & Acquisitions project in the Healthcare Industry. My team was tasked with demonstrating that the merger of two health systems could benefit the community at large by increasing the access to and quality of care. I performed a variety of roles, including researching and analyzing extensive data on health measures in the affected counties to show how the merger would help close gaps in treatment, as well as developing client-ready material on leading practices in the healthcare industry. In my just 12 days on the project, I became a mini-specialist on healthcare! Then, I shifted gears entirely, and worked on a strategy project at a retail client. My team was tasked with revamping the client’s entire customer and coworker experience, and my role was primarily to help synthesize the team’s strategic recommendations into plans that the client could implement.

Beyond building my skillset through client engagements, I also developed several meaningful relationships that spanned all levels of the firm. I met several leaders and learnt more about what they do, why they love it, and how they’ve been successful at Deloitte. And while members of both my project teams were my biggest mentors during the workday, they were also great friends afterwards — talking about anything from our dentists to my social media posting habits! But, my summer would truly be incomplete without my two fellow S&O interns. Even though we were all travelling during the week, we got to know each other really well through Fridays in the team room, Cubs games, and post-work Chicago events and sushi nights.

My 10 week internship at Deloitte has flown by, and I’m leaving having had the very cool opportunity to get a glimpse of it all — the 6 AM flight from O’Hare, the late night finishing work before an important client meeting, the technology tricks I never knew existed, three different states, two different service lines and industries, and last but certainly not least, many delicious team dinners!

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see http://www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

Views from the Cube: MicroLink Devices, Inc. Intern Monica So

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What's the view from Monica's cube? MicroLink Devices, Inc. in Niles.

What’s the view from Monica’s cube? MicroLink Devices, Inc. in Niles.

As a graduate student in the chemistry department, I spent my last three summers doing research in the lab. This year, I did something different. I participated in an internship. For 14 weeks, I interned at MicroLink Devices, Inc (MLD), a small private company in Niles focused on manufacturing semiconductors for defense and space applications.

As the solar cell engineering intern, I specifically worked on four research and development programs to improve the performance of multijunction III-V solar cells. The responsibilities I had included fabricating, characterizing materials, processing cells, analyzing data, and reviewing the literature. Of course, I did not do this alone. At the company, I was paired with two full time Ph.D.-level researchers who acted as my mentors. We worked together to evaluate data, discuss, and recommend future steps for each project. When I was unsure about how to execute a task (which was often!), I discussed and asked them questions. This research and development process in industry was closely related to the way I conduct research in graduate school.

If you’re a graduate student in the physical sciences, you might be asking, “What are the benefits to taking an internship?” I’d say that you can gain:

  1. Practical job experience. I had many opportunities to learn more about other parts of the solar cell company outside of the engineering group. I got to work on a bit of everything. As a result, I helped with producing solar cells from designing the cell architecture to packaging the solar cell arrays for delivery. Even though I did not know everything, it was important that I quickly adapted and regularly learned new things in the company.
  1. Network with professionals in your field. The internship program at MLD was not just about working. It was an invaluable opportunity for me to interact with the scientists there. If you’re considering a job at that company, you have a unique chance to experience the culture and decide if it is a good fit. In fact, a fellow summer intern, who was searching for a job then, accepted a job offer from MLD!
  1. Gain mentorship. What I’ve enjoyed most about this internship is the people whom I met. The PhD scientists were excited to talk about their journey from graduate school to their current career. Their advice has helped direct me as I start to look for jobs in academia and industry. They connected me with new and interesting people in the field.

You might also be wondering, “How can I secure an internship at a local semiconductor company?” The most useful advice I can give is to be proactive, let people know you are looking, and ask questions. There will be hidden opportunities you didn’t know about. In my own case, I had co-organized a company tour to MLD in Spring 2014. At the end of the company tour, the CEO announced that MLD was seeking summer interns and encouraged us to apply. Rarely do students in the physical sciences participate in summer internships. Even though I had not intended to do so, I was curious, so I followed up with an e-mail. The directors at MLD asked for an electronic copy of my resume.  A couple of weeks later, I got called in for two rounds of on-site interviews, and the rest is history.

Monica So is entering the fifth year of her Ph.D. program in the chemistry department. Advised by Prof. Joseph T. Hupp, she is an NDSEG fellow researching the light-harvesting and energy transfer behavior of metal-organic framework materials for incorporation into photovoltaics.

Views from the Cube: The Wedding Planner Becca Smith (Plan It With Me Intern)

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Becca

What’s the view from Becca’s cube? Plan It With Me in Dallas, Texas!

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved planning and organization. Additionally, I’ve always been a hopeless romantic, spending hours browsing Pinterest “wedding” boards or watching romantic comedies with my mom and sister. So naturally, friends and family have constantly joked about my possible future as a wedding planner; however, I never thought I would actually experience that opportunity through a summer internship just after my freshman year of college.

When my former Spanish teacher contacted me to “unofficially” help plan her wedding, I decided to reach out to multiple wedding or event planning companies in my hometown, Dallas, for any opportunities to gain exposure to the industry and better assist her on her big day. Shortly after, I received a response from Plan It With Me, a wedding planning and event management company. After an interview, I immediately began to plan my former teacher’s July wedding as my internship training before summer started.

During my training, I held weekly conference calls with the bride, along with follow-up calls with the company’s owner, updating her and receiving constructive feedback. I kept track of the running budget and vendor payments. Moreover, I contacted vendors, such as the caterer, florist, DJ, and venue coordinator to confirm various details of the wedding. I constructed a comprehensive wedding timeline, with all of the specifics from the rehearsal dinner to the “sparklers” exit after the reception.

Once I returned home for the summer, I began to work on other aspects of the company that greatly enhanced my knowledge of the wedding industry. I attended bridal shows and expos, in addition to bridal appointments and venue site visits for upcoming “Plan It With Me” weddings. I worked on an extensive preferred vendor list, updating contact information and taking notes on various services and websites. I continued to create and update different brides’ timelines, as their wedding dates grew closer. Furthermore, I frequently updated the company’s Facebook page, and I created an Instagram account and posted tips, quotes, and pictures every few days. Among these several other tasks of the internship, I still continued to plan my teacher’s upcoming wedding, attending her venue site visit, staying in contact with her vendors, and updating her timeline.

The day of the wedding was exciting, overwhelming, stressful, and wonderful all at the same time. From the early afternoon set up to the reception clean up past midnight, I was constantly running around and checking on different aspects of the wedding. However, the bride, groom, and guests were extremely pleased with the evening, and I felt very proud of my months of planning that had finally come to fruition.

Working with a smaller company definitely provided me with maximum exposure to the wedding industry, as I was given a great amount of control and responsibility over the wedding I was planning. In addition, interacting with the bride and vendors from almost 900 miles away for three months significantly developed my communication and organizational skills. My internship definitely piqued my interest in wedding and event planning, and through the upcoming year, I will continue to update the company’s social media accounts, work on Plan It With Me’s approaching weddings, and attend bridal and event expos in the Chicago area.

Becca Smith is a rising sophomore, majoring in Communication Studies with a Spanish minor and also pursuing the Integrated Marketing Certificate.

Views from the Cube: JETS Swimwear Marketing Intern Abigail Reisinger

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Abigail

What’s the view from Abby’s cube? JETS Swimwear in Australia!

In the summers in between your years at Northwestern, there seem to be two options: find an amazing, resume-changing internship or go abroad and expand your cultural horizons. Always indecisive, I decided to do both, which is how I found myself in Sydney, Australia, writing trend-copy, deep-etching images of scantily-clad women, creating photo shoot briefs and generally working a dream job.

I have the very great privilege to be the Marketing Intern at JETS Swimwear, a swimwear brand in Australia known for innovative design, premium fabrics and an accessible high-fashion aesthetic. As a Marketing Intern, my work is focused on communicating the JETS brand and the JETS aesthetic in a specific, tailored way, as well as finding new avenues through which to reach customers. In my day-to-day, I can be found doing any number of things: writing a rough draft of the brand kit for retailers who carry our collection, creating fashion edits blog posts about Couture Week Street Styling, merchandising department store floors, wrestling with the office espresso machine, picking up lunch from the best-kept secret café in Alexandria, deep-etching web images or building boxes in the company warehouse. But my favourite assignments are those that involve long bouts of sitting at my desk, writing any number of things,  zoned in on trying to find the perfect synonym for ‘chic’ or trying to craft succinct prose about the unforgettable work of Patrick Demarchelier. I often tell friends and family stateside that I had no idea that this job existed: a professional position, outside the strict box of fashion journalism, that allows me to exercise both my love and reverence of the fashion industry and my passion for writing simultaneously, day in and day out. Importantly, though, my job is not all creativity:  In the eyes of the JETS team, there is no job too big, too small, too simple or too challenging to become a teachable, valuable moment and because of this, I have learned more in eight weeks with JETS than I could’ve ever learned in a full summer stateside. My time with JETS and in Australia has taught me three valuable lessons that I truly believe would have been impossible to learn anywhere else in the world.

  1. Getting to know every department of a company makes for better, stronger, more impactful work. Sure, it is simple to create genuine copy about a collection when you have seen it, read the inspiration notes on it and understand what the designer is attempting to communicate. But it becomes so much simpler when you understand how the garment is actually, physically crafted, how it has to be shot and edited for publicity imagery and how many pieces are made according to demand. JETS places particular focus on following a garment from its conception to the customer’s hands and it is a valuable lesson: watch a tree grow from the ground up, and you’ll be more appreciative (and knowledgeable!) about the leaves at the top.
  2. Be a person. During my first interview with JETS back in March, my supervisor said, “We’ll want to know what you’re up to over the weekends—we’re quite nosy,” and I instantly knew that this company was interested in hiring Abby, the college student/fitness instructor/classic literature enthusiast/fashion blog addict, not in clean-cut, black-and-white resume Abigail. My co-workers and supervisors are interested in my work and my learning at JETS, but they’re also interested in the yoga class I took after work, the finer points of the American university Greek system and funny stories from my childhood—in other words, being a person rather than just an employee creates a stronger bond with my colleagues and creates a work environment that is more enjoyable to be in and therefore, more productive because I want to come to work and contribute to the JETS community.
  3. Say “yes” more than you think you should. There have been many tasks that I’ve taken on in my time with JETS that scared me—projects that involved learning Photoshop and InDesign, dressing models for retail showings, being an important link in the behind-the-scenes work of updating the website. Normally, I would tout my inexperience as a reason not to involve me on these projects, but instead, I simply said, “yes.” Yes, I will learn, I will jump off the deep end into something I don’t understand, I will stick out my neck for the sake of new skills and contribution to the company that has nurtured me. And thank God I did—the more I said yes, the more responsibility I was given and the more I was able to learn about the industry in an experiential way.

Maybe you don’t have to go overseas to learn professional lessons that give your career path shape, but it has certainly made the difference for me. Being removed from your regular environment makes you more apt to try new things and be open to every possibility in front of you, not just the ones that look the best—and that’s something we could all learn to do a little more of.

Views from the Cube: South African Human Rights Commission Intern Sarah Watson

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What's the view from Sarah's cube? The South African Human Rights Commission!

What’s the view from Sarah’s cube? The South African Human Rights Commission.

This summer I have had the pleasure of working in the Legal Services Department of the South African Human Rights Commission. Living in Cape Town, I’m stationed in the Western Cape Provincial Office. The office is separated into the Parliamentary Research Unit, and the Legal Services Unit. As a Social Policy major but someone who is also pre-law, I was having a hard time choosing which area I wanted to work in for the summer. I decided that having the legal experience would be great, plus they were shorter staffed in this area. I’m really glad that I decided to work in Legal Services. As a result, I have learned so much about myself, human rights work, and South Africa throughout my internship experience.

On a basic level, working in an office in a different country is extremely different. I’ve had to learn a very different office culture. Things are much more lax here. People come to work later, take smoke breaks frequently, chat often in the hallways/offices, and personal lives are often discussed. Getting to know the nuances of a different culture has been extremely interesting.

Adding on yet another layer, working in a government office has it’s own challenges. The head office is in Johannesburg, so any type of administrative things have to be handled through them. This means that when our server goes down, we have to wait for someone from Johannesburg to come fix it, or even just call us back. Being a government office also means we are subject to strict and routine audits. Files must be immaculate and there are numerous administrative steps that have to be followed for each action taken on a case. Reports on all cases have to be filed every month, and we are supposed to close 25% of our cases each quarter. Considering the Western Cape Office has one of the highest volumes of complaints, this can put a lot of stress on the office.

On top of all of that, is the actual work itself. In a country like South Africa, still recovering from the Apartheid era, there is still so much work to be done. Like the remnants of slavery and Jim Crow on disadvantaged populations in the United States, South Africa is struggling in many of the same ways. We deal with complaints ranging from unlawful evictions, hate speech, discrimination, housing/basic needs, and more. The work is plentiful, and extremely draining. Sometimes people have traveled hours from townships just to talk to us. Going on site inspections to townships has not only given me insight for our cases, but has also given me incredible perspective on my own life and privilege.

As far as my work goes, a typical day for me at SAHRC consists mainly of consultations. We don’t take appointments, so anyone off the street can walk in the office to consult with a legal officer. When not consulting, I spend a lot of time drafting correspondence with complainants that updates them on the status of their case. I also write allegation letters to respondents, which inform them of the complaint against them and requests a written response. I’m also often tasked with doing legal research for cases. As a culminating project I’m writing a final report for a case that outlines the facts of the case, legal framework, legal analysis, and a final decision.

Not only have I gotten extensive legal experience, but I’ve also had the opportunity to get to know and work within different communities. I’m so thankful for the 2 months that I’ve spent here at the SAHRC and hope that I can return some day.

Views from the Cube: CeaseFire Intern Molly Crane

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CeaseFire works to stop the cycle of violence in the city of Chicago through addressing the root causes of these outcomes. The CeaseFire team consists of individuals originally from the areas in which they work, and their task is to build relationships with “high risk” youth and adults. It is out of these relationships that CeaseFire can assist individuals with obtaining employment, remaining in school, locating emergency housing, and also directly preventing and interrupting violence. The staff typically possess similar life experiences to the clients with whom they work, which offers credibility to their messages of alternate choices and of caution. In the past six months, it has been my privilege to intern with this meaningful organization.

It is atypical to have a “typical” day of work with CeaseFire. A single day may involve visiting the hospital after a shooting, meeting with community organizations to leverage employment resources for the benefit of CeaseFire clients, meeting with police officers about recent issues, and doing professional development with the outreach workers themselves. It is truly a direct service in all senses of the phrase, and I’ve seen the ways in which CeaseFire truly changes lives. The workers enter unarmed into gun fights, and also work to prevent retaliations through peace treaties. As an intern at CeaseFire and an individual who is not a former gang member, most of my work is with community organizations and the staff instead of with clients. And yet it is extraordinarily inspiring to see the life-changing effects of my co-workers, and I am honored to play a very small part in the work they do. The more I learn from the people, the more clearly I see that violence emerges from a plethora of factors. It requires a holistic approach to target all of the root causes, and CeaseFire cannot do this work alone. But one thing I know for certain: Chicago would be a very different place without the presence of CeaseFire.

Molly Crane is a rising junior majoring in Sociology and Political Science and minoring in Global Health.

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