Hello from Jenny, a senior at Brandeis who just finished her summer internship. As a marketing intern at a corporation in a New York City office, I truly felt like I was coming from another dimension the first day I met my intern cohort—as the background I’m coming from is so different from everyone else. Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, NYU … list all the big Ivies and pre-professional vibe schools you could think of. Those were where everyone else was from. Almost everyone was a business or marketing related major. As a social sciences and art major coming from a small non-target school, if you ask me to use one word to describe how I felt, it would be “overwhelmed.”
Let’s move the clock back to my junior year. Starting my recruitment process as early as the winter of my junior year, I immediately felt what the adults were saying that the US economy has gone to its worst this year—with the economy going downwards, there were less job openings but the competition over the limited slots was still very saturated. I applied for more than fifty jobs, but I barely got a few interviews.
There came the importance of networking, because in today’s economy, connections work better than soft and hard skills at passing your resume to HR and getting you to the first round of interviews. All I did in the winter and spring was browse through LinkedIn for every possible internship opening, reach out to alums or whoever could help me in the application process and see if I could have a coffee chat with them before I applied. I didn’t realize how hard this process was until I actually got my hands on it. A big majority of Brandeis alumni specialize in the medical/health care field or the law field, given our strength in scientific research and a social-justice-based founding mission. Compared to kids from those target schools with a reputation in business-related industries, my biggest challenge was to expand my alumni network.
When I first received and accepted my job offer, I was so excited to text all my Brandeis friends, asking what they were doing for the summer, and seeing if I would be able to see them in Boston or New York during the summer (I studied abroad last semester so I missed my friends). However, the bad news I got was that the majority of them were heading home this summer—either studying for GRE/LSAT/whatever test they needed to take for further education, or doing research remotely or at some far-away lab. Only very few of them were on the track I was planning to do: interning on-site at a large corporation with the goal of either getting a return offer, or applying for a full-time job during senior year and starting work immediately after graduation. With no acquaintances on a similar track, I felt a little bit lonely, or even left out, because the best friends I would share my accomplishments and struggles with would not be able to share the same feelings with me this summer.
Now looking back at my summer internship, I actually felt quite accomplished and unique as a marketing intern with a not-so-marketing background. It was definitely overwhelming at the beginning, but ultimately, I am proud of my Brandeis foundations and what I can do with such a distinguished background. Using my liberal arts foundation, my storytelling skills and critical thinking abilities, I was able to bring not only diversity, but also the ability of thinking outside the marketing box onto my team. I never regretted going to Brandeis, nor choosing this business path as a non-business major. I believe that is what differentiates me from everyone else. One piece of final advice to those who want to intern at a corporation? Start networking as early as you can, and don’t limit yourself to the bubble of Brandeis.