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Gaining a competitive edge in the job search

CBE seniors (l-r) Krista Reinfeldt, Avi Uttamchandani and Alexandra Silvestri say landing internships was critical to their success in finding employment after graduation.

To most business students, graduating with a job offer in hand is an important measure of success. Historically, three-quarters or more of Lehigh’s business students have received offers of employment within six months of graduation. Last year’s 2010 graduating class was no exception.

Although the path to full employment is varied, many students credit their success to their internship experiences.

Krista Reinfeldt ’11, an accounting major who will work in the Chicago office of KPMG, says the process starts early.

As a sophomore, Reinfeldt sought help from Lehigh’s career services in lining up interviews with the Big Four firms for a position in one of their Summer Leadership Conferences. KPMG offered her the opportunity to attend its “National Fast Forward Leadership Program” in California.

During the fall of her junior year, as a result of her participation in the KPMG leadership program the previous summer, Reinfeldt received an offer for an internship the following summer. She received a formal job offer on the last day of that internship and will start after graduation. 

“It was the best feeling ever to come back to school for senior year knowing that I had a fantastic job waiting for me [after graduation],” she says.

A critical role for networking

Avi Uttamchandani ’11, a finance major, worked as an investment banking summer analyst with the technology, media and telecom industry groups in the investment banking department of the Bank of Montreal. Networking was a key element in his efforts to land an internship and subsequent job offer.

“I leveraged my network and tried to create as many contacts at the bank as possible,” he says.

Uttamchandani experienced a tight-knit corporate culture at the bank and appreciated the daily individual meetings with managing directors. Like Reinfeldt, he was rewarded on the last day of his internship, when he received one of the few job offers extended to summer interns.

Alexandra Silvestri ’11, a finance and marketing major, converted a summer internship as an assistant buyer for Ross Stores into a full-time position. After Silvestri received a YMA Fashion Scholarship, Ross Stores contacted her and offered her the opportunity to intern in their New York buying office.

“My internship experience at Ross confirmed that it was the career path for me,” says Silvestri, who got a full-time job offer just before the holiday season.

Crucial support from alumni

The career services office works closely with students as they begin to formulate their career aspirations.

“It is always important for students to gain experience in their fields of choice through internships,” says Donna Goldfeder, director of career services. “In these economically tougher times, internships are even more crucial than ever before.”

Krista, Avi and Alexandra are just three examples of students who converted internships into full-time jobs.

“As business graduates continue to face tough competition for fewer jobs, the challenge is to make sure they are provided with every opportunity to differentiate themselves in the marketplace,” Goldfeder says. “An internship often provides the competitive edge.”

Top firms continue to recruit Lehigh students for internships. Alumni are instrumental in this effort. Those who are interested in providing internships should contact Goldfeder.

 

Story by Kathleen Mattare

Posted on Thursday, March 24, 2011

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