Where the Wildcats Are: Three recent NU alums land jobs at WMS Gaming

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Learn more about WMS Gaming, including the Leadership Development Program, co-ops, and internships, at WMS Gaming‘s information session Friday, Oct. 11 from 12 p.m.-1 p.m. in Norris, Armadillo Room (check CareerCat the day of the presentation to confirm time & location).

Rose Gruenhagen:

“Welcome To Da Neigh-ba-Hood.”

That’s what the sign above my cubical says. My coworkers made it for me for my birthday. And that’s how I know I belong here.

In June, I graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Four years of nights and weekends sitting in tech with my notebook and my calculator had earned me this degree but I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had narrowed my interests but I wasn’t ready to choose just one. WMS allowed me to continue to explore my talents and my passions. Over the next year I will be working in manufacturing, procurement, and new product introduction. Currently I am working in the For Sale Value Stream department. I work with the assembly line to make sure our product is produced as quickly and as accurately as possible. I have gotten the opportunity to work with executives as well as assembly workers, and everyone has taught me something important about topics including business finance, part numbers, the value of a 401k, and even more notably, the location of the bathroom.

In the next year and beyond, I anticipate experiencing many more adventures and meeting many more welcoming and supportive people.

Rosa Zhang:

Recent NU alums Rosa, Rose and Mike each work in different functions at WMS Gaming.

Recent NU alums Rosa, Rose and Mike each work in different functions at WMS Gaming.

“Hey Rosa! Did you graduate yet?”

I hear these six words, a running gag, almost anytime I see an old friend in Evanston, or at any NU-related event. I spent five years in school, pursuing dual degrees in Bassoon Performance and Communication Studies, and I tacked on IMC just for good measure. By my last year, I was known as the eternal student, someone who had been at Northwestern just about forever, and it felt like that to me too. I had spent 82% of my life in school, and had no idea what I was going to be. After casting a wide net job-searching (mostly via CareerCat) and a few offers that I didn’t feel entirely solid about, I found a great fit for me at WMS Gaming, a company focusing on slot machines, video lottery and online gaming. I am currently on the marketing team and learn more about the casino industry every day, an exciting world I was completely unaware of before. I’ve even introduced myself to the sound department and informed them of my musical background – so if you’re walking around a casino in the near future and hear a bassoon soundtrack coming from a slot machine that might just be me.

I never pictured myself in the gambling industry, but I couldn’t be happier with my choice. I’m glad I waited for a company that had the right “feel” to it, and would offer the same advice to anyone job-searching.

Mike Mazur:

As your graduation day approaches, the pressure to find a full time job grows each day.  I felt the same pressure to find the proverbial “good job” as my graduation date approached, and I was able to find it a few months before I graduated with a company called WMS Gaming.  As an HR Associate at WMS, I work closely with Talent Acquisition to recruit highly skilled employees at every level of the organization—from entry level to senior management.  I have gained valuable lessons from working with the Talent Acquisition team that are applicable to anyone searching for a career.  First, be specific on the type of position that you are looking for.  It is not the employer’s responsibility to figure out what you would like to do with your degree; you have to figure that out first and then apply to the appropriate positions.  Second, identify four to five organizations that you would really like to work for and that you can see as a cultural fit for you.  Don’t forget, this is a place where you will spend 40 hours a week at (not including your commute) therefore it should be a place where you feel that your personality fits.  Be as specific as you can be with both the type of position and the organization that you are looking for and you will be much more successful in your career search.

Rose Gruenhagen is a 2013 graduate of Northwestern University with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.  Rosa Zhang is also a 2013 graduate of Northwestern University with dual Bachelor’s degrees in Bassoon Performance and Communication Studies.  Michael Mazur is a 2013 graduate of Northwestern University with a Master’s degree in Communication.  Rose, Rosa, and Michael all work for WMS Gaming.

About Where The Wildcats Are
University Career Services’ alumni blog series “Where The Wildcats Are” features the career experiences and advice from Northwestern University alumni of all ages and stages. Learn where your fellow Wildcats are post-graduation and how they reached their career goals. Are you a Northwestern alumni interested in sharing your career development process with current students? Email careerservices@northwestern.edu and include “Alum blogger” in the subject line.

Employer Spotlight: Q&A with Jaime Swartz, ’11 NU Alum & Derivatives Trader with Belvedere Trading

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Belvedere Trading is hiring! Check CareerCat to apply for the following positions: Trader Trainee (resume drop deadline: Oct. 8), Software Support Analyst, Jr. Software Engineer (SQL), Jr. Software Engineer, Business Analyst and Automation Engineer (resume drop deadlines: Oct. 14).

Describe your role with Belvedere. How long have you worked with Belvedere Trading?
I have worked at Belvedere for almost two and a half years.  Currently, I am a derivatives trader at the CBOE (Chicago Board Options Exchange), trading options and futures on the Russell 2000 and Nasdaq 100 indexes.  I am a mentor for our new hires, which involves one-on-one periodic meetings to track their progress and address their concerns.  I am also an instructor in our new hire theory education program, which is the backbone of their initial training.  Recently, I became a part of the recruiting team and will be conducting some information sessions and interviews this fall.

What is your work and education background?
I graduated from Northwestern in 2011, with a degree in Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics from McCormick.  I had a summer internship before my senior year at Simplex Investments, a small proprietary trading firm, where I was exposed to the trading industry.  In the fall of my senior year, I interviewed almost solely with proprietary trading firms and thankfully found Belvedere.

What’s a typical workday like for you?
I get to the Belvedere office around 7:45 AM and have a brief meeting with the other trader in my group and our clerk about what goals we have for the trading day.  Then I walk to the CBOE trading floor, where I am an open outcry market maker.  This means I make markets, or provide a bid and an offer, on options and option spreads out loud.  I trade mostly open outcry, but can also trade electronically from the trading floor.  After the market closes, I go back to the Belvedere office to have a brief end of day wrap-up meeting.  Then I attend mentor meetings, teach classes, or proctor quizzes/tests.  I usually leave the Belvedere office between 5:00 and 5:30 PM.

What does your workspace look like?

JaimeWorkspace

I have a full desktop computer, with 2 monitors, a keyboard, and a mouse.  The Russell 2000/Nasdaq 1000 pit has roughly 10-12 market makers, 8 brokers, and 8-10 clerks.  The picture shows another pit on the CBOE trading floor that looks and functions very similarly to mine.

What’s the best thing about working for Belvedere?
The rewards for success.  The expectations at Belvedere are very high, and it can be extremely stressful while you are training and learning new concepts.  But after you prove your proficiency in certain skills, the managing partners push you to higher job roles with more responsibilities and advanced learning opportunities.

What professional advice do you have for job-seeking graduating students, or for students who are early in their college careers?
Do your research about companies you think you’d like to work for.  Sometimes the job description and online information about a company do not accurately represent the work environment or employees.  Make sure you prioritize the culture of the company and your work environment ahead of salary.  You will spend too many hours at your office to sacrifice quality of work environment for higher pay.

What makes a candidate stand out to Belvedere recruiters?
The best candidates have passion for the trading industry, commitment to continuous learning, and strong communication skills.  We find many candidates who are very technically qualified, so we differentiate those candidates based on their “fit” to Belvedere.

What gadget, office tool or program can’t you live without?
Lyft, a ride-sharing program that is exploding in Chicago right now.  I use it all the time instead of cabs, because you can request a ride at any time, and a driver comes to your location.  It’s a great transportation choice for my morning work commute if I’m running late and can’t take the train or walk, and it’s cheaper than using cabs.

What’s the best advice you’ve received?
1. Be confident, but not arrogant.  If you “do your homework” and master job skills, you should confidently prove your hard work.
2. You should know the information you use for your job well enough that you could teach it to someone who knows nothing about it.

Jaime

My name is Jaime Swartz, I am 24 years old, and I am originally from Des Moines, IA.  I have always had a strong interest in math and developed an interest in finance at Northwestern. I have played volleyball since I was 12 years old, and I currently play and coach competitively. 

About Employer Spotlight
Employer Spotlight offers participating on-campus recruiters the chance to share their career tips and experiences with Northwestern students. Employer partners interested in guest blogging are welcome to contact Kelli Conkey for more information.

Views from the Cube: Human Rights Campaign Intern Brennan Suen

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Interning in the Youth and Campus Outreach department at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization in the country, was a once in a lifetime experience and opened doors to a future career in social justice.

What's the view from Brennan's cube? The Human Rights Campaign in Washington DC. (Bottom far right)

What’s the view from Brennan’s cube? The Human Rights Campaign in Washington DC. (Bottom far right)

I spent a significant amount of my time there recruiting interns for the fall and creating a comprehensive guide on intern recruiting. I contacted dozens of university “intern in DC” programs asking them to send our information to their students. I sent hundreds of Facebook messages and emails to campus LGBT groups and resource centers. I also mastered job posting on LinkedIn, Idealist and university career services websites and was able to orchestrate our social media advertising, including posts on the HRC Facebook page (liked by nearly 1.5 million people), Twitter and Instagram.

After all the applications were submitted, I helped in the intern hiring (which was very surreal as an intern myself). I had to organize and keep track of hundreds of applications through a system called Wufoo. It ended up being a really good way to interact and work with staff from all across the HRC. It was also helpful to see and read hundreds of resumes and cover letters so that I could continue to perfect those essential skills for myself.

In addition to helping with the intern recruiting process, I did extensive research (including policy research) relating to youth and campus issues. I did preliminary research for a guide on youth entering the workforce for the first time, looking at things such as coming out in the workplace, company nondiscrimination policies, domestic partner health insurance benefits and transgender-inclusive insurance coverage.

I also researched the LGBT campus climate in 10 states (looking at over 100 universities) to help determine what opportunities and roadblocks the HRC faces there. This involved researching nondiscrimination policies, employee domestic partner benefits, LGBT student organizations and resource centers, current news stories involving LGBT issues (such as firing teachers, votes on various policies, etc.) and any other relevant information.

Brennan with his fellow Youth and Campus Intern and supervisor, Candace Gingrich-Jones, at the "Networking with GenEQ"

Brennan with his fellow Youth and Campus Intern and supervisor, Candace Gingrich-Jones, at the “Networking with GenEQ”

I planned our quarterly “Networking with GenEQ” event that was held on July 31st. This included advertising the event to various progressive organizations across the DC area. After many phone calls, emails, social media plugs and conversations with friends, 60 people showed up for light refreshments, an open bar and a networking activity. It was one of the highlights of my summer to host such a fun, successful event with such a great turnout.

The HRC provided us with a lot of awesome educational opportunities, such as getting to spend an hour talking to Chad Griffin, the HRC’s president and the man who orchestrated bringing Prop 8 to the Supreme Court. We also had a Q&A with Natalie Sade, the head of the Aguda, Israel’s HRC equivalent, and I had the opportunity of attending a lunch speaker series at the Gay and Lesbian Task Force, where Mara Keisling, the founding Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), spoke. Each of these speakers gave insight into the equality movement, where we stand and where we have to go from here.

I also lobbied congress with NCTE for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and LGBT inclusion in Comprehensive Immigration Reform. This was definitely one of the toughest, most educational and worthwhile experiences I’ve had in DC. Alongside three other Arkansans, I spoke to staff members from Senators John Boozman and Mark Pryor, as well as Congressman Tim Griffin himself.

Brennan and two friends at the rally outside the Supreme Court when DOMA and Prop 8 were repealed.

Brennan and two friends at the rally outside the Supreme Court when DOMA and Prop 8 were repealed.

Certainly the most exciting part of working for the HRC was the Supreme Court decisions on DOMA and Prop 8 on June 26th. I got to stand at the front of the Supreme Court when the decisions were made, which was one of the most emotional and powerful moments of my life. I was watching history while working for the organization that made it. The eruptions of the crowd, tearful and joyous hugs from friends and the feeling in my heart that things are getting better for me and all LGBT people – it was a powerful moment in civil rights history. I can’t believe I was lucky enough to experience it firsthand.

I will be continuing to work with the HRC in the fall, campaigning for marriage in Illinois and Senate votes for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in Arkansas. In addition, I am volunteering with HRC’s Chicago Steering Committee, working on the media and communications team for their Chicago Gala, at which I will be volunteering. Finally, I will be volunteering at the HRC National Dinner on October 5, which President Obama, Lady Gaga, the cast of Glee, Mo’Nique, Sally Fields and more have all attended. I am excited that my internship was just a beginning and that I can take the valuable skills and connections I made this summer with me as I move towards my future career goals.

Brennan Suen is a rising senior (graduating in December 2013) majoring in Psychology, Theatre and IMC. He spent his summer interning at the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. You can find his website and blog at brennansuen.com.

About Views from the Cube
Views from the Cube offers an inside look at what it means to be an intern from Northwestern students who are interning across the country and internationally for companies and organizations in all industries. Would you like to share your experience? Please contact careerservices@northwestern.edu.

Employer Spotlight: Q&A with Victor Shao, ’13 NU Alum & Brand Specialist at Amazon

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Amazon is hiring for its retail & services undergraduate programs! Login to CareerCat to apply. Learn more at Amazon’s information session next Thursday, Oct. 3 from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. in Tech, L251 (check CareerCat the day of the presentation to confirm time & location).

Describe your role with Amazon. How long have you worked with the company?
I’ve worked at Amazon for almost two months now as a Brand Specialist on the Tools & Home Improvement team. I manage Amazon’s relationship with two vendors, a top-tier power tools manufacturer and a top-tier ceiling fan company. With the goal of growing each company’s sales on the Amazon platform, I help enhance the customer experience by expanding each brand’s selection, optimizing the supply chain, and managing site content and promotions.

I was hired as part of the Retail Undergraduate Program along with 40 other amazing students from universities across the country. Most of these RUPs are also in Brand Specialist roles, covering vendors in categories such as consumer electronics or apparel.

What is your work and education background?
I just graduated in June with a major in economics, minor in business institutions, and a certificate in leadership. Outside of the classroom, I was heavily involved in the Associated Student Government, my fraternity, and Camp Kesem.

In terms of work experience, I previously interned at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a futures and options exchange, and Shore Capital Partners, a boutique private equity firm in Chicago. Private equity taught me that I most enjoy growing businesses, and that’s a big reason I ended up choosing Amazon.

What’s a typical workday like for you?
There’s never a shortage of issues that come up and different things to learn, especially when you’re starting off, so the cliché would be to say that no two days are the same.

At a high level, my workday usually involves a couple of meetings with various team members, a lot of email communication, and data analysis either in Excel or the large number of proprietary Amazon systems. I am in constant contact with my vendors and we also have weekly sales calls and operations calls.

What’s the best thing about working for Amazon?
What initially sold me on Amazon continues to reinforce itself in every conversation I’ve had at work—the people that I get to interact and work with are incredible. People on my team are extremely smart, hardworking, and passionate about their jobs. They’re also very approachable and eager to teach. For many people at Amazon, the product or category is important but still not as important as the people.

What professional advice do you have for job-seeking graduating students? For students who are early in their college careers?
For job-seeking students, my advice would be this: don’t wear a suit to an Amazon interview. Our most dressy days consist of jeans and button-down shirts, and suits stand out like a sore thumb. I also say this in a more philosophical sense—understand the culture of the company and accommodate accordingly. Much like how each of Northwestern’s student organizations has a distinct culture and students join groups based on their interests and fit, companies are the same way. The best way to gain this understanding is by doing your research; talk to as many employees (alumni are easy targets) and read as much as you can. Along the way, I’d also recommend reading Professor Bill White’s book: From Day One.

For students early in their college careers, the best thing you can do is seek out opportunities to learn, whether that is an unpaid internship or coffee chats with people in industries of interest. What’s important is exposing yourself to different experiences so that you can learn more about yourself—what you’re good at, what you’re not good at, what you like, and what you don’t like. A bad internship can be just as valuable for your future decision-making as a good internship.

What makes a candidate stand out to Amazon recruiters?
A candidate who can think well and articulate his or her thoughts clearly is one that stands out. We prize business judgment and instincts to a large degree because, generally, industry knowledge is teachable and technical skills are trainable. Balance is also important—Amazon values those who are comfortable both with diving deep into data and with extrapolating that data to tell a story.

What does your work space look like?

We work in open aisles grouped by teams. And as you can see on the top right, we have lots of samples lying around our workspaces. My standing desk comes in next week.

What gadget, office tool or program can’t you live without?
I would have to say Excel; Amazon is very data-driven and we use it all the time for everything from reports to project trackers. I’d highly recommend learning Excel without a mouse for any job that requires data analysis.

What’s the best advice you’ve received?
If I had to pinpoint a specific piece of advice that I try to live by, it would probably be something along the lines of, shoot for the stars. I grew up in a family that cares deeply about education and learning, which I think is common among Northwestern students. We all embrace education as a transformational opportunity that lets us unlock our dreams and reach our stars, wherever they may be. We’ll never know what we’re fully capable of unless we continually test our limits and expand our horizons in every direction.

About Employer Spotlight
Employer Spotlight offers participating on-campus recruiters the chance to share their career tips and experiences with Northwestern students. Employer partners interested in guest blogging are welcome to contact Kelli Conkey for more information.

Views from the Cube: Molly Crane on teaching in Zambia

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This summer it was my honor to intern at two schools for orphans in Zambia, Africa. I cannot even begin to describe what a privilege and joy it was to work with the students and teachers there! The first school was Mercy Ministries in rural Lusaka, and the second was in the Ng’ombe compound called Chikumbuso (a compound is basically how Zambians describe a slum). At Chikumbuso my main responsibility was helping students who struggle in the classroom prepare for their government exams, and at Mercy I spent time teaching grades 5, 6, and 7 as well as instructing the teachers.

What's the view from Molly's cube? Zambia.

What’s the view from Molly’s cube? Zambia.

While teaching I definitely learned a great deal about the variety of issues faced by students and instructors in Zambia. School fees, proximity to schools, and sexual abuse and violence are extremely prevalent struggles for students, especially for girls. On the instruction side, teachers can be paid $20-$40 a month if they receive compensation at all, and may need to teach multiple grade levels in a single one-room class. It really is different that extreme poverty isn’t simply an idea or a statistic examined in a classroom, but it’s the issue faced by real people, strong people, that I know by name and face. Truthfully, the need in Zambia is overwhelming and very present and there’s so much for which I’d love to advocate. But if there’s anything I can attest to, it’s the life-changing difference of education, healthcare, and nourishment. The living conditions in the compounds cultivate an environment of hopelessness especially in the lives of children; it is a victory to make it past five as a child, and many kids don’t anticipate living long enough to grow into any aspirations. One day at Chikumbuso the teacher asked all the students of the class to introduce themselves and say what they would like to be when they grow up. I almost cried with excitement seeing these children who live in the slum and who were receiving the gift of education, food, and healthcare, stand up and say they want to be pilots or nurses or teachers or pastors, to hear them giggle when others spoke, and to see their joy about completing their education. These kids have hope. And as I look to the future I see many opportunities for research and long-term, sustainable partnerships to assist the people of Zambia. Donald Miller in his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years said “when we live [our story], we are telling the people around us what we think is important.” I want to live out my education, my career, and my life, showing that these people are important. And this begins by transforming myself; as Leo Tolstoy articulated, “everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themself.”

I already miss the people a crazy amount. I miss Ruthie calling me Auntie Molly, I miss walking into class to an excited group of students chiming “Good morning Madam!” I miss praying with the widows, I miss laughing with my friends during lunch. It’s definitely an understatement to say that I had a few snapshot experiences…climbing at Victoria Falls, eating impala, making friends with an ostrich, drinking Coke on a ledge over the Zambezi…but most of my time consisted of relationship building, breathing blackboard chalk dust, and trying to learn to live on Africa time. I wish I had the words to say how thankful I am for these moments. And as I left and students and teachers posed the question, “when will you return to Zambia?” I hope the answer will be very soon.

Molly Crane is a rising sophomore at Northwestern University, majoring in Urban Studies and International Studies. She loves working with the homeless in Evanston and Chicago, heading the community outreach branch of NU’s diabetes club, tutoring, and travelling abroad whenever she can.

About Views from the Cube
Views from the Cube offers an inside look at what it means to be an intern from Northwestern students who are interning across the country and internationally for companies and organizations in all industries. Would you like to share your experience? Please contact careerservices@northwestern.edu.

Views from the Cube: CARPLS Intern Lena Gryaznova

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CARPLSLena

What’s the view from Lena’s cube? The Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services in Chicago.

On the first day of class last winter quarter, my professor Steven Harper handed out our first assignment. We had to write a paper on what being a lawyer meant to us. As I sat pondering over the prompt, I realized that my associations with lawyers were the movie “Legally Blonde” and unrealistically dramatic television shows such as Suits. I did not actually have any idea what being a lawyer meant.

This summer, I embarked on my journey to figure out what being a lawyer is all about and whether it is the right path for me. I know there is so much more to the profession than what I get to see in the two months of interning at CARPLS, but this summer has been my first taste into the world of law.

CARPLS stands for Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services, which is a convoluted way of saying that they provide legal advice and referrals to individuals who cannot afford to hire a private attorney. Clients can either call CARPLS’ hotline or come in to speak to a live attorney at the aid desks we have at the Richard J. Daley Center and the City of Chicago Central Hearing Facility. The people that contact CARPLS are often not only overwhelmed by the sheer volume of court dates, papers, and appearances to keep track of, but also confused about how they got into the legal conundrum that they are currently facing. And for good reason.

My main job as a summer intern was to write client intake case reports, which consisted of looking at past client intakes, extracting the needed information from them, and then based on the results I found, making calculations and conclusions that reflect CARPLS’ clients and services. The first case study I worked on was on CARPLS’ disabled clientele, since this was a topic no one else had yet researched at the company. After sifting through hundreds of client files and extracting over 30 pages worth of Excel data, I concluded that though disabled clients make up a large part of the “people with legal problems” pool, there are not many organizations that assist them. Society tends to forget that disabled people have the same legal issues the non-disabled population faces and that they need assistance for those problems as well.

The next case report that I looked into was the effectiveness of our help desk at the Central Hearings Facility in decreasing the monetary amount of fines that clients charged with car impoundments or housing violations had to pay. Even though I did not complete the whole study before my time with CARPLS was over, I did conclude that the end result of the case proceedings was often due to luck, such as a police officer not showing up to testify or a defendant being 5 minutes late to trial because they could not find parking. In a system that seems to be governed by a strict order and regime, much of the outcome is decided by chance.

Although I spent most of my time working on the case reports, I happened to fill in performing intake at CARPLS’ Municipal Court Advice Desk at the Daley Center for about a week while the usual gal was on vacation. That is where I had my first face-to-face encounter with how little I actually knew about the law. As the intake person, you serve a bit like a receptionist, signing people in to speak to an attorney and running conflict of interest checks. However, clients often begin to tell you their whole story not realizing that the intake person is not in fact the attorney who will address their woes. It is during those stories that I realized how completely clueless I was about anything law related. The client sitting in front of me was lamenting about a collection notice that she received from her bank, all her court documents spread between us as she haphazardly pointed at dates and monetary values printed on the papers. As she told me her tale, all I could think about was how I had no idea what any of the documents meant. Questions swirled through my head as I gathered myself and did the only thing I knew to do: I told her to sign her name and that an attorney would be with her shortly. As the days went on, I began to get the hang of things, asked questions about what exactly everything meant, and paid attention to what advice the attorneys gave their clients. I may still be clueless when it comes to law, but at least I now possess enough knowledge to fake my way through an interaction with a client or to complete their intake form.

This internship left me with a good amount of general legal life advice. Some of the most interesting things that I learned during this internship are: a) see a lawyer or get legal advice ASAP. Do not put it off until the last moment because that leads to missed deadlines which leads to more woes, b) do not sign anything until a lawyer has looked at it and advised you. Or next thing you know you just agreed to vacate your apartment in 3 days during a snowstorm with nowhere else to go, and c) if your only source of income are benefits, that is non-seizable money. I also learned that I still have quite a ways to go in my quest for legal knowledge. I still am not positive that a legal career is what I want, but thanks to my summer internship at CARPLS, I am one step closer to figuring out what exactly a legal career holds in store for me.

Lena Gryaznova is a rising junior double majoring in Legal Studies and Slavic Languages & Literature, with a minor in Sociology. When she is not contemplating the possibility of a future legal career, she is dancing up a storm in Steam Heat and BLAST.

About Views from the Cube
Views from the Cube offers an inside look at what it means to be an intern from Northwestern students who are interning across the country and internationally for companies and organizations in all industries. Would you like to share your experience? Please contact careerservices@northwestern.edu.

Views from the Cube: Karla Otto Los Angeles and WhoWhatWear.com Intern Abigail Reisinger

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Working in Los Angeles for three months (after 19 years in the Midwest) will, no exaggeration, change your life. If you’re me, you’ll learn to surf, rethink your style and become a bit of a hippie (the words “it will really connect you to the earth and mellow you” have come out of my mouth since moving here). Most importantly, however, it will bring you closer to your career goals and create learnable moments at every second of the day. I had the very great privilege to work with Karla Otto Los Angeles, a branch of the international public relations company and WhoWhatWear.com, a fashion forward, highly followed online magazine.

Abby Reisinger spends her summer in Los Angeles interning in the public relations and fashion industries.

Abby Reisinger spends her summer in Los Angeles interning in the public relations and fashion industries.

At Karla Otto Los Angeles, the entire focus is on VIP Services, which means providing prominent entertainment figures with samples from our clients (who are luxury brands) to wear and carry at events. My work includes creating send-outs for the VIPs stylists, clipping articles from online sites where our clients are photographed or written about, maintaining the showroom (a glorious, open room with floor to ceiling windows and racks upon racks of our clients’ creations—I could spend hours there) and generally assisting the office. While I do not think public relations is my future, the work is undoubtedly valuable—most people tend to forget that fashion is, in fact, a business and that in fashion, there must be a focus on visibility for the brand, the image of the brand and the success of a brand. From this work and from my talented bosses, I’ve learned to consider what it means when a specific brand is on one celebrity versus another (making the brand seem youthful or edgy, classic or avant-garde) and how to make decisions that will benefit the brand. This skill is essential—even on the creative side of fashion (styling, creating editorials), there must be a focus on the business side of things. Karla Otto has taught me that my best dreams are rooted in reality—and that is endlessly valuable.

At Who What Wear, working in the fashion department was an education in unexpected ways: my knowledge of brands expanded immensely, as fashion closets receive samples from brands all over the world. Interns, who are in charge of checking in and checking out these samples, quickly learn where to find the best premium denim, similar styles of high-end shoes, unique jewelry and so much more. While this may be detrimental to my bank account, this is endlessly beneficial to the knowledge of the industry. When I (hopefully) officially join the ranks of a fashion department after graduation, I will know a wide breadth of brands to request from in order to create the best editorials and product stories that are consistent with the publication’s aesthetic. Researching trends and brands has also increased not only my knowledge of many brands, but also the aesthetic and basic pulse of brands. I am much better at identifying brands just by looking at the piece and knowing that if a product story calls for a Navajo print piece (for example), that Ralph Lauren probably isn’t the first place to look.

Abby is now an expert in brands, thanks to her summer internship at WhoWhatWear.com.

Abby is now an expert in brands, thanks to her summer internship at WhoWhatWear.com.

There are three things that I have learned this summer, however, that trump all other lessons. The first: despite being educated at one of the finest universities in the nation, there is no job beneath me. Taking out the garbage, sweeping up after a long shoot, or even driving across Los Angeles when you have the stomach flu to check on a 1500 dollar missing jacket that wasn’t even missing (all with a smile on your face and your hat in your hands) will prove something more important to your supervisors than a great eye or a certain panache—it will demonstrate humility. Second: Let real life inspire your work. I have the bad habit of allowing my favorite editorials to inspire my own style and the pieces I choose to offer up for product stories or sendouts, but the best work (styling, sample choices for VIPs, etc.) comes from looking at the world around you. Case in point: the fashion director at Who What Wear, when creating looks for the ‘Look of the Day’ feature on the site, once used the outfit of a freelance market editor as inspiration for a look, and when choosing samples to send to a VIP, my boss at Karla Otto always asks about past looks of the VIP: “does she wear anything above the knee?” “Does he wear lighter colored suits?” Root your work in real life and you’ll create honest, inspired work. And third: Never, ever, ever expect that just because you are working in the industry (any industry at all!) that you can stop learning. Continue to dig, to ask questions, to look for learnable moments. Don’t rely on the job to educate you—read memoirs, keep up with magazines, read blogs, pay attention to the choices of the editors and directors around you. Learn something everyday.

Abigail Reisinger is a sophomore Communication Studies major who writes for multiple student publications and works with several public relations teams on campus. She enjoys surfing and almond milk lattes.

About Views from the Cube
Views from the Cube offers an inside look at what it means to be an intern from Northwestern students who are interning across the country and internationally for companies and organizations in all industries. Would you like to share your experience? Please contact careerservices@northwestern.edu.

Views from the Cube: Brillstein Entertainment Partners Intern Antonia Yang

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This summer I had the privilege of interning at Brillstein Entertainment Partners, one of the oldest management agencies/production companies in the entertainment business, one with a very, very impressive lineup of stars and shows from Brad Pitt to Natalie Portman, SNL to The Muppets. What’s really special about the Brillstein internship program is that the internship is meant to be educational, meaning that speakers were arranged to speak to us about their experiences in the entertainment industry. These speakers ranged from talent managers to studio & network executives, to top entertainment lawyers, and even actors. While their paths in the industry vary, the advice they’ve given to us all revolve around being kind to everyone you meet, pursuing what you love, and working real hard at it.

The view from Antonia Yang's cube? Hollywood!

The view from Antonia Yang’s cube? Hollywood!

Of course we didn’t sit around all summer being educated by really successful people. My main duties at work have been script and book coverage, which in the movie business means reading and writing about new material that’s sent to the office. I admit there’s been some gruesome reads but overall, the experience has been very educational for an aspiring writer like myself in teaching me what’s good and bad. In addition, I have also gotten the chance to read some scripts that are in the process of being made, giving me an inside look at the different types of films in demand.

Besides script coverage I’ve also done some breakdowns for TV shows as well as compile lists of directors and writers for the talent managers, and sort out fan mail for the A-list stars from all over the world. As interns, we also attended live tapings of Conan, Chelsea Lately, Real Time with Bill Maher, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and a Grown Ups 2 screening.

While in LA I lived in Westwood, the Evanston equivalent of UCLA. It’s homey, safe, has a lot of cool eateries, and a few more Boba shops to choose from than Joy Yee’s. It’s also a good hub for celeb sightings and film premieres. Since I’ve been here, I’ve managed to spot Russell Crowe at the local In-N-Out, and saw the premier for The Smurfs 2 and Elysium (though I was too lazy to stick around to see the stars like Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Matt Damon, and of course the lovely Jodie Foster).

Of course Brillstein is famous for its line of talent. While at work, several including James Van der Beak (yes ladies that’s Dawson), to Rob Lowe (one of our guest speakers), David Spade, and even Randy Jackson have all causally strolled in. Evidently Brad Pitt and Eva Longoria were also spotted at some point in the office but I was unfortunately not at the right place at the right time. Even though most of the work I did at Brillstein was on the developmental side of the business, I also learned a lot about what the management of stars entails. I had the opportunity to arrange some of their schedules and helped wrap and deliver some packages as well. Even though I didn’t get the opportunity to take part in the production side, being here and getting the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people has been eye-opening enough for someone with so little knowledge of Hollywood. To see the business side of things from the talent management’s point of view has made me realize what a well-oiled machine Hollywood is. But if you’re still curious, I suggest you go to LA and get an internship yourself — that is, if you’re really interested in learning about the entertainment business. If it’s not what you expected, you can always hit the beach!

Antonia Yang is a rising senior studying RTVF and MMSS. This summer she interned at Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

About Views from the Cube
Views from the Cube offers an inside look at what it means to be an intern from Northwestern students who are interning across the country and internationally for companies and organizations in all industries. Would you like to share your experience? Please contact careerservices@northwestern.edu.

Views from the Cube: Breakthrough Manchester Intern Laura Stoughton

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Breakthrough Collaborative’s mission is to launch high-potential, low-income middle school students on the path to college while inspiring high school and college students to pursue careers in education. It carries out this mission at 38 sites across the country. I applied for the site in Manchester, New Hampshire, which allowed me to commute from home (though the program does offer free home-stays to out-of-town teachers).  Breakthrough’s “students teaching students” model made the program stand out. Applicants do not need previous teaching experience to be accepted, and teachers go through a rigorous eight-day training to ensure that they are prepared to teach. Because the age gap between the students and the teachers is relatively small, the students really do look up to the teachers as role models, which gave me a chance to make an even larger impact in students’ lives.

Laura Stoughton performs a lamb heart dissection with her 6th grade students during an internship with Breakthrough Manchester.

Rising junior Laura Stoughton performs a lamb heart dissection with her 6th grade students during an internship with Breakthrough Manchester.

At Breakthrough, my primary responsibility was teaching two sections of 6th grade biology. I worked with a team of 2 other biology teachers to prepare our lessons. Although we were given a curriculum to work with, each week we made extensive revisions of the lesson plans and accompanying materials. It was a joy giving my 13 students their first taste of a real science class. My favorite—and most nerve-wracking—day of teaching was the day we performed a lamb heart dissection. My students were so brave and mature about it! I was impressed, especially considering that I didn’t do my first dissection until I was in 9th grade, and even then, I was terrified!

As a Breakthrough teacher, I had several other duties beyond my biology classes. Every teacher offers a 2-week long extracurricular, which gives students a brief exposure to areas they might be interested in exploring further later on, such as sports and languages. I got to teach Italian, in which I discovered that I enjoy teaching languages almost as much as I love learning them. On our last day, we had a feast, which involved me bringing in a lot of Italian food and the students having to “order” it using what they had learned in Italian. The hardest part about the extracurricular was that I had to design everything—lesson plans, worksheets, powerpoints—from scratch.

Each Breakthrough teacher also serves on a committee (I was head of the Team Events committee) and acts as an advisor to 3 students, working with them during an advisory period on developing non-cognitive skills and setting goals. Each day concluded with a faculty meeting that could take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours.  All total, I spent about 60 hours a week at school, kept working when I got home, and went to bed around 9:30 or 10 so that I would have enough energy to wake up at 5:30 the next day and do it all again. It was exhausting, but there were moments every day that made it worth it. Breakthrough is an incredibly strong, supportive community unlike anything I’ve experienced before. And as someone at Breakthrough once said, now that I’ve found it, I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to recreate that type of community wherever I go.

Laura Stoughton is a rising junior pursuing a major in cognitive science, a minor in musicology, and the Integrated Marketing and Communications certificate. This summer, she was a teacher at Breakthrough Manchester in New Hampshire.

About Views from the Cube
Views from the Cube offers an inside look at what it means to be an intern from Northwestern students who are interning across the country and internationally for companies and organizations in all industries. Would you like to share your experience? Please contact careerservices@northwestern.edu.

Views from the Cube: Littelfuse Inc. Intern Leo Spornstarr

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Finding a summer internship can be a long and arduous process, but the internship I acquired at Littelfuse Inc. was well worth it.  As the Product Management Intern, I had two main tasks, to cleanup and improve the automotive section of the website, and to use my analytical and math skills to assist my boss, the Director of Global Product Management and the Product Management Business Analyst in a variety of tasks.

What's the view from Leo's cube? Chicago @ Littelfuse Inc.

What’s the view from Leo’s cube? Chicago @ Littelfuse Inc.

Before the work even started, there were several factors that enhanced the internship.  I had my first in depth experience with Outlook.  Although it was a little hard to navigate at first, I now have gained an appreciation for having an organized schedule, with reminders, and an assignment queue.  Moreover, the Office Communicator Software allows me to communicate with people from around the world through a chat system.  I talked to people located in the Philippines, Germany, and the third floor of my building, without ever having to leave my seat.  It is quite handy when you only have a short question and need a quick response.

I knew it was going to be an interesting internship from the first day when I had to wait until noon to have my laptop ready.  I ended up spending the morning familiarizing myself with the product catalog offered by my division, the Automotive Business Unit (ABU) – I know way too much about car fuses now.  After a day or two of training and meeting various employees, I began the less exciting part of my summer working on improving the website and product datasheets.  No one had this responsibility since the end of December, and my inbox quickly filled up with many changes that needed to be made ASAP.  After a few weeks when I finished making all the changes, I was ready to begin the second part of my internship.

This was the part of my internship that was extremely data and excel heavy.  The first thing I was assigned to do was to update some S&OP (Sales and Operation Planning) charts for one of their products. While this task may seem simple, it becomes much harder when several people provide you with several different sets of information all about the same thing.  It required me to sort through all the data and even make some of my own projections from time to time.  Another assignment was to analyze a Gross Product report and look for areas of potential margin improvement.  After calculating many numbers and creating many charts, my work was included in a presentation to the CEO and CFO of the company.  Even though I was not actually in that meeting, the fact that my work was used for this showed that my boss and the company thought of me as a full time employee and not just as an intern.

In addition to working hard, it is clear that one key aspect of the workplace was lunch time.  There was a group of about ten of us who ate lunch together almost every day.  It was more than just the few guys I work with; it was a mix of people from different departments and floors of the office.  The social interactions between employees helped me to understand why things ran so smoothly in the company.  It isn’t just the skills of each of the employees, but the way they interact with one another.  They were very welcoming and I didn’t feel like an outsider during their conversations.  It was something I looked forward to everyday.

The summer, although I still have a few weeks left, taught me a lot about the structure of a corporation.  Good coordination and communication between individuals located around the world can mean the difference between a satisfied and unsatisfied customer.  Furthermore, when employees can connect with each other on a personal level, everything runs better.  It was a great experience with a great company.

Leo Spornstarr is a rising senior in mathematics and economics.  He is hoping to become an actuary after college. 

About Views from the Cube
Views from the Cube offers an inside look at what it means to be an intern from Northwestern students who are interning across the country and internationally for companies and organizations in all industries. Would you like to share your experience? Please contact careerservices@northwestern.edu.

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