It is the age-old question for many students sitting in class: Why am I learning this? It often hits during particularly long lectures or maybe the class late on Thursday afternoon keeping you from the weekend. However, I can attest that I not only used what McIntire taught me at my summer internship, but also that it helped me to distinguish myself.
In the third year of McIntire, students engage in the Integrated Core Experience or ICE. Through ICE, students take courses that cover seven areas of concentration: communications, management, finance, strategy, systems, quantitative analysis, and organizational behavior. In addition to taking courses that touch these concentrations, students are placed in groups and work on a strategic advisory project for one of McIntire’s corporate sponsors. AB InBev challenged my class to help them tackle issues of sustainability, competition with wine and spirits, and e-commerce.
My ICE group worked rigorously over the semester to brainstorm, develop, and project out our proposal. In the process, we strengthened our analytical, design, financial, and presentation skills. While in the weeds of the ICE project that semester, I did not fully appreciate what I was learning. However, this summer, I worked as an Investment Banking Analyst at a bank in New York, and it quickly became apparent to me that McIntire had given me important hard and soft skills to excel at my internship.
First and foremost, I knew how to collaborate because I had spent so much time working (and practically living) with my ICE group. At my summer internship, I constantly worked in groups. These groups sometimes consisted of fellow interns but more frequently, were with full-time analysts, associates and VPs. Therefore, I benefitted greatly from having concrete experience navigating group work and ultimately was a more valuable team member as a result.
Second, I knew how to communicate. While this may seem trivial, it is an invaluable skill for interns. As interns, we need to learn quickly, and this relies upon knowing how to best ask questions that will get right to the answer and not waste your team’s sparse time. In addition, at one point in the summer, I had to coordinate and present on a conference call with senior staff at my firm, and I was grateful for the previous experience in my second semester in ICE hosting a videoconference.
Third, I had developed the skills to think critically and creatively. At Guggenheim, the interns were tasked with a strategic advisory project not unlike the ICE project. We were placed in groups and had to think of strategic ideas for a client. My group and I were able to quickly generate innovative new ideas that we could present to the client. We then presented to the senior managing directors at our firm, who then chose two Summer Analyst intern groups to present to the actual board of the client—which brings me to my final skill.
With ICE, I learned how to present. Having presented to an actual client before when my group presented to AB InBev, I had concrete experience engaging an audience and handling Q&A. Ultimately, this proved to be an invaluable asset, because my group was among the two chosen to present to the CEO and CFO of the client company. Not to mention, in the other winning group, there was a fellow McIntire fourth-year!
Ultimately, I walked away from my summer internship with a renewed gratitude for the rigorous and rewarding McIntire experience. Now heading into my fourth and final year, I am excited to see what else I can learn before starting my career next year.