The most important asset for any graduate student seeking an internship isn’t something you learn in class.
It’s your network.
That was a key takeaway for about 100 master’s business students at Stevens Institute of Technology, who came to learn from a panel of six students who completed summer internships at some of New York City’s most impressive companies.
“Everyone here encourages you to network — and everyone should do that,” said Ankur Morbale, a student in the Business Intelligence & Analytics program. “But it’s also important that you remember that each of you here has a network of your own already, which is important as well. I can’t emphasize enough how knowing the right people at the right time can be helpful.”
And it’s not the kind of thing you stop doing once you’re hired, said Mahak Golechha, an Information Systems student who worked in machine learning at Quantiphi.
“Getting your internship doesn’t mean you stop networking — it’s a great way to make your presence known,” Golechha said. “You have to network while you’re at work.”
Golecha’s story — which ended with her getting an offer to join Quantiphi upon graduating from Stevens — involved starting in a business intelligence role, “but I really wanted to work in machine learning, so after a week, I spoke to my manager and got on a project where I had the chance to work as a machine learning engineer.”
Morale had an interesting story, too, which he shared in urging students not to be too narrow-minded about the field in which they work.
“Finance was not something I was interested in — yet look what I am doing right now,” said Morale, who interned in risk and financial advisory at Deloitte. “I would suggest you not limit yourself to just one domain.”
The panel also consisted of graduate students Aditya Gade, in the Information Systems program, who worked at Nomura; Kunal Sarak, Information Systems, Millennium Management; Kanika Ghocha, Finance, Deloitte; and Nayana Pillai, Information Systems, CME Group.
Some of the other suggestions and strategies from the panel included:
- Use Stevens services. “Some students overlook things like mock interviews or résumé guidance, but these are very important,” Pillai said. “The Career Center also helps you think about how a position matches with your skills set — or doesn’t — which may get you to think about the places you’re applying to.”
- Own the interview. Each student talked about their interview preparation, from how to research a company to using the STAR method — situation, task, action, result — of answering questions. Gade said that within the first minutes of the interview, the employer has made an impression of you. “You have to make the interview a two-way conversation, not one way,” he said. “Drive the interview so you can talk to your strengths.”
- Don’t stop learning. Students on the panel mentioned the classes that helped them get hired — from classes in database, machine learning and web analytics came up often — but it’s just as important to learn on the job. “Technical skills are always changing,” Golechha said. “Even after you get the job, new advances are always happening. You should always keep current and keep learning those new technical skills.”
Students in the audience asked a number of insightful questions, like how to present technical experience on an interview or in a résumé, and how to handle rejection — a topic that inspired quite a bit of conversation among the panelists. Gade pointed out that each internship posting attracts hundreds of applicants, which means rejection is unavoidable.
Pillai encouraged students to be proactive in working with a recruiter to identify areas for improvement.
“There’s nothing wrong with asking where you went wrong, in an email, and asking you can improve,” she said.
Ghocha, meanwhile, preached patience after admitting she felt stung by early rejections.
“It’s not something I was used to,” said Ghocha, president of Stevens Graduate Women in Business, which hosted the event alongside the Stevens Career Center. “Our first instinct is to overanalyze about what you did that didn’t work, which didn’t help me. I had to learn to be patient, which was my biggest challenge. But in the end, it works out.”