My Internship to Employment Success Story:
My internship and current career exist mainly because I had someone open the door for me. If you take the time to realize the network you have created for yourself, that is where you can really find out who/where you want to be. In my case, I considered a family friend who is the CEO of the bank that I now call my current employer.
During my sophomore year, I wanted to find an internship back home that would be both beneficial for my career and also help me financially with my junior and senior year. I applied to the Opus Bank internship program and entered into the Income Property Banking Division; this was an extremely rare and lucky opportunity because the bank at the time was only nine months old and was starting from the ground up. Throughout that summer, I learned about many different aspects of banking—from the lending process to how a bank is run, to what kind of person I can be in an office environment. I fell in love with the banking life (not normally an answer heard)! This is largely because my internship was more than getting coffee and making copies, I learned the ins and outs of a bank. Skipping forward a year, it was time for my second internship and I was asked back for another summer internship, but I wanted a change of pace, and with knowing the majority of divisions, I looked to work in the Retail Banking Division. Retail Banking is the depository side of a bank that is in charge of the physical branch locations, deposits, deposit account rates, and overall management of the offices. Throughout my summer in Retail, I absolutely loved performing all kinds of analytical work to make the offices more efficient, bringing new forms of data to the executives, and even holding meetings with the CEO, other executives and the chairman on information that I had gathered. When I finished out that summer, I was told that when I am looking for a job, be sure to check back. So with that thought in my mind, I started my senior year anxious and excited for what was to be an exciting year but also knew that I was determined to have a job before a certain date and that goal for me was Christmas Break.
Since I was planning to move back home to Orange County, I knew I had to get a head start on looking for a career, considering the competition from local schools like University of California Irvine & Los Angeles, University of Southern California, Loyola Marymount, Claremont Schools, and more—all fighting for positions in this area. Realizing the challenge ahead of me, I wanted to think about what was right for me at Opus Bank, but when looking online at the positions available, I only saw “Senior” “5+ Years in Banking Required” and so forth. I had to change my focus, and asked myself what position I could create for myself that I knew they needed. So I wrote down notes and called people I had worked with and asked questions to get more insight into that perfect job for me. The week before Thanksgiving break, I emailed the CEO and the President of Retail Banking to set up meetings with them for the day before Thanksgiving. I went to lunch with the President of Retail Banking and explained the position that I had created for myself, asked if she would need/want that position, and if I could become a candidate. After that meeting, I had her approval; up next was the CEO of the Bank. I met with him and pitched my concept for my future career, while answering questions like “How would we benefit?” “What can you bring to help us?” After answering such questions, he asked “So if I make this position, do you want it?”… with little hesitation I said “of course!” It ended with a congratulatory handshake and a welcome to the team. I had my first career/job out of college the day before Thanksgiving, a month before I had planned!
My advice for an internship is to remember that it’s a test-drive; you aren’t tied down to anything. I realized that after my first summer working in Income Property; I was not as sales-minded as I thought. So when I returned to the same company, I applied for a different division and that turned out to be the best change I did for my career. My internship showed me the kind of environment I wanted to work in, gave me insights into things like commuting, even revealed the hours I liked—it was a little taste of the real world for only three months. My internship was a full-time job; we were all treated as real employees, attended the managers and sales meetings every week and had to present our weekly work. I was trusted and privileged to attend meetings that were extremely confidential. I knew this was the lifestyle I wanted for myself after having worked in it for two summers.
To find your own path of success with an internship, then career, network and gain experience in real life situations; don’t assume everything you hear is exactly how it goes. During my freshman year someone pointed out that I had no experience. I took that and it was motivating, it was my chance to push myself—taking the time to create networks through friends, parents, family friends, professors, other people involved in the University, and just people you meet throughout your life. These are the people that are going to help you, mentor you, and maybe even hire you. I took a chance on creating a job for myself at a bank and now I am happily employed. It is never too early to start looking and contacting companies. In fact, the companies I contacted during the fall of my senior year are still calling me (nearly a year later) and asking for interviews and making offers. If you are proactively looking for what you want, you will find it; don’t expect anything to be set on your doorstep.
Qualities from Gonzaga:
Some of the best qualities I learned through Gonzaga were through my involvement in athletics and in my leadership role. I was a member of the Men’s Rowing Team all four years, actively participating the first three years until I became injured. I wanted to make sure I stayed involved with my team but also by making a visible difference. I was elected President of the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAC), which deals with the school, WCC, and NCAA with student-athlete related activities, events, and policies. Through rowing, I learned so many different characteristics about myself like determination, leadership, and the willingness to help others. In my role as President of SAAC, I learned more about leadership and how my style works with the 40+ members of the committee. I was honored to receive such recognitions as Zag of the Month and Gonzaga University Student Leadership Award, which awards a student on his/her involvement and excellence with their team, the classroom, on campus and in the community. The overall impact that Gonzaga has had on me is to be my own person, live the life I want to live, and do not let anyone establish this life for me. I became my own person at Gonzaga, because I had the ability to grow and establish myself through athletics, the classroom, my faith and myself.
Opus Bank, Retail Banking Business Analyst - Laguna Beach, CA
Class of 2013 - B.B.A. in Finance and Marketing