Interview with an Intern
Posted By: E. Moss on October 31, 2012 |
By: Elynor Moss & Chuka Konrad
HBCUConnect.com and Chuka Konrad got together to discuss what life of an Intern is like.
Check out his experience and gain insight on how to get an Internship and its benefits!
HC: Chuka tell us a little bit about yourself.
CK: I was born in Abia State, Nigeria on May 23, 1991. I was accepted to Voorhees College, Denmark, SC on a Deans scholarship and on January 6, 2010, I made my first entrance into the U.S. I've had a great HBCU experience at Voorhees College. Denmark, SC on a Deans’ scholarship and on January 6, 2010, I made my first entrance into the United States. I’ve had a great HBCU experience at Voorhees College which is full of life changing history. I was one of the founding members of Rotaract Club which is the premier community service organization in the Denmark community. I am the current president of SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise). I am a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. where I serve as treasurer. I currently have a cumulative GPA of 3.93. On September 21, 2012, I will be crowned Mr. Voorhees College! I enjoy playing soccer, tennis and ping pong. I also love graphic and clothing designing.
HC: What is your major and what career do you plan to pursue and why?
CK: I am an accounting major with a minor in business administration. Upon graduation from Voorhees College, I plan to pursue a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in International Business and Economics from a good business school. Part of my career goals is to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) for the World Bank. I chose this career path because I want to help develop poverty reduction strategies for poor countries. As an entrepreneurship minded person, I hope to set up my own personal businesses especially in the energy, clothing and hospitality industries. I started working on my own line of cheap tailor-made blazers and suits this summer and in the next couple of months I will kick it off with full force.
HC: Where did you intern this summer?
CK: This summer I interned with the Food and Beverage department of the Marriott Grand Ocean Resort, one of the premier vacation resorts of the Marriott Vacation Club International. Grande Ocean is located on the Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
HC: What do you think is the best way for HBCU Students seek & secure an Internship?
CK: That is a very important question. Based on experience, a lot of students have difficulty searching for and securing the right internship. The most important factor in searching for an internship is the hunger for it and that hunger comes from realizing that an internship can launch you into a great career for life. There are several means of getting internship information. One good source of information is the career office. I suggest that students befriend the counselors at the career offices at their schools and supply them with personal information so that as soon as opportunities come up they can be contacted. I also recommend frequent visits to the career office to see what is new. Another way of getting internship information is through fellow students especially those in the same area of study who have already had a good internship experience. Websites like hbcuconnect.com and uncf.org provide great internship information and I encourage fellow HBCU students to visit these websites, register and if possible subscribe to their emails. It is good to start searching as early as December or January. On the other hand securing an internship requires a little more effort. Most internship opportunities have limited slots and are therefore very competitive. A well prepared resume, cover letter and essay along with a good GPA can help one secure a good internship. I encourage freshmen in every HBCU this fall to work hard towards an excellent GPA. It comes in handy when things get tougher along the way. It is also necessary for students to research on the firms they are applying to so that they can comfortably answer questions if they make it to the phone or video interviews. You don’t want to make it to the final stage and get disqualified for answering the interview questions poorly. I personally have my essays and resume reviewed and corrected by two or three professors each time I apply to an internship.
That way I am confident that the hiring team will be impressed with my work. A lot of patience is also required as it may take a while before companies make their decisions.
HC: What are the top 3 benefits you received from your Internship?
CK: I received a lot of benefits from this internship. First, as an accounting major, people always asked me what led me into applying for a position in Food and beverage as it doesn’t directly relate to accounting and the answer to that is that the position has granted me a balanced perspective to business, which is something many accountants never get a chance to acquire. As an accountant, we sit more in the office and work with figures and rarely get a chance to see what goes on with Operations. This internship has given me the opportunity to work directly with Operations and gain the balance I need for my career. Another great benefit of this internship is that I added another certification to my name. I received a ServSafe Food Handler certification. It is quite a great achievement for me. Last year when I interned at Dominion Resources and Service, Richmond, VA as a gas transportation analyst, I ceased the opportunity to obtain a Six Sigma Blue Belt Certification. Certifications and license put you a step ahead of your contemporaries in the job market and a student can stack up a lot of them through internships. Finally, through this internship, I learned how to cook and prepare different types of dishes and meals. Coming from Nigeria, all I knew how to cook were traditional meals from home but through this internship I have learned how to make some popular American delicacies.
HC: What was the most challenging aspect you had to adjust to or overcome?
CK: The most challenging aspect of my job was its fast-paced nature. I had never been placed in a position where I had a lot of tasks to perform within a very limited time frame with little or no allowance for errors. It was quite challenging catching up with the speed but with the support of my manager, Time Albert, I started getting more and more comfortable with the pace. Severally, I was needed at three different locations at the same time and I had to devise ways of attending to those three locations without having any of the parties waiting. Before the internship was over, I was doing way better than I thought I would at first.
HC: What type of work were you given and what new skills did you learn?
CK: The Food and Beverage team covers three main facilities; the marketplace, the grille and the pool bar. My job ranged from receiving and confirming deliveries, stocking goods, hosting activities and festivities on the resort and the actual preparation of meals ordered by guests and owners at the resort. The most important skill I learned was multitasking. Even though I had prior experience with multitasking, I learned to function at a higher level of expectation. I also improved my people skills as I had to work with people of different nationalities; Filipino, Jamaicans, Vietnamese, Mexicans, Indians and Americans of course. I also made a lot of friends and created relationships that are going to last for a long time. I learned how to decorate an event arena to meet the high taste of the guests and owners vacationing on the resort. I also learned some good cooking, baking and grilling skill which happened to be the most fun part!
HC: What do you think is the key to having a successful Internship Experience?
CK: The key to having a great internship experience like I did is being open-minded, receptive and tolerant. Due to the fast-paced nature of my job, once in a while a coworker responded out of frustration and pressure and I had to learn not to take those reactions personal. Companies recruit interns that they see as potential full time employees after college; therefore the managers are always watching your work ethic and carriage. It is important that an intern carries him/herself in a good manner. This will determine if the company will want you back for another internship or if your current internship will be your last. Feel free to throw in ideas, ask questions and even challenge some of the ideas that you don’t quite agree with. That is the reason they hired you. In summary, make it as fun as possible. Make out time to bond with fellow interns by going out to games, movies, the beach and anything you can do to create great memories.
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