Every student dreams of landing an internship opportunity that allows them to gain knowledge and exposure within their particular industry while simultaneously enjoying every minute they spend working for a company. For Finance and Marketing major Alison DiBiase, Class of 2020, securing her first internship as a Cloud Finance Intern in the summer of her sophomore year with Kronos Inc. met exactly that aspiration. In fact, Alison’s first internship with Kronos Inc. would soon become one of many positions she would secure with the company throughout her time at Merrimack College, subsequently tackling positions as an International Finance Intern and an Accounting Revenue Recognition Intern. As her sophomore year at Merrimack College commenced, Alison found herself pondering whether a Finance concentration truly suited her career interests, a plight most students face at some point during their undergraduate experience. With the resolution to explore all that the field of finance had to offer beyond those elements presented in the classroom, Alison began to apply to internships on Handshake as well as utilize her personal network in order to venture out into the working world.
After observing the company culture firsthand through a job shadowing opportunity, Alison found herself drawn to Kronos Inc. as the perfect company for her to explore her career development, especially due to the company’s frequent recognition as the “Top Place to Work in Massachusetts” by the Boston Globe and several other sources. Alison applied for the company’s open internship positions and reached out to a personal connection employed at Kronos Inc. to request a recommendation to accompany her application. As her phone and in-person interviews with Kronos Inc. approached, Alison headed to the Lucey Center to practice her interviewing skills with her Career Advisor, Morgan Phipps. She reflects, “I definitely used the Lucey Center for all my interview preparation. I met with Morgan Phipps probably seven times before the first interview, and it was really helpful, because she taught me how to talk in an interview setting. She especially really helped me to be prepared to answer a question that I don’t fully know the answer to during an interview, which is really helpful because sometimes [the interviewer] will throw a curve ball in there that you didn’t expect.” With her newly refined interview skills in tow and recommendations supporting her candidacy, Alison rose to the top of the applicant pool and secured her first position with Kronos Inc. as an International Finance Intern.
As Alison’s initial internship experience began, she received the exact insight she so desired regarding the clarification of her career direction and the nature of the working world. She affirms that her exposure to the realities of the Finance industry in her internship alleviated her angst of whether a Finance concentration suited her interests, as she recalls, “I remember thinking, ‘I’m not sure if I really like Finance or not’, until I got my first internship with Kronos, and I was like, ‘oh my gosh, this is amazing.’ I finally realized that the area of Finance that I really love is Financial Planning and Analysis, because [my internship allowed me to] get hints of all areas of Finance, and it was just so eye-opening to realize that just what you learn in the classroom isn’t all of what Finance is.” She even recalls a weekly “Lunch and Learn” event hosted by Kronos Inc. to provide an opportunity for employees to converse with the company’s Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, a scenario in which effective networking is an expectation and an absolute necessity. She states, “it’s really all about knowing people and getting recommendations to get bumped up in the application process, and to use all of the connections you have, because that’s how you really get places in the working world. You’ll hear it at the Professional Development Retreat, you’ll hear it everywhere, but I can’t stress it enough: network, network, network!”
Beyond the pivotal increase in her command of imperative networking skills and a gain in a more profound understanding of her ensuing career development, Alison additionally obtained an appreciation for working in an environment in which a company places the utmost value on the satisfaction of its employees and the role it plays in the quality of work produced. She especially stresses the importance of finding a company culture that values passing real-world knowledge onto its interns, and enabling them to fully benefit from their experiential learning opportunity. Alison comments, “I’ve heard so many experiences where interns only do small ground work or coffee runs, and don’t really learn much from their internship. I was able to do work that actually mattered and people would look at it and use as the data for the company, something that I actually just applied to a project in one of my classes. I even learned so much about Excel that I was asked to give an Excel training session for other interns. As long as you ask questions and show that you’re engaged, someone will help you to learn.”
As Alison progresses further into the working world as an Accounting Revenue and Recognition Intern for Kronos Inc. this fall semester and reflects on her development as a professional in the Finance industry, she asserts the importance of a simple yet crucial gesture in order to benefit from any internship: asking questions. Alison reveals that, no matter what her position entails, she never fails to seek out her managers to serve as mentors, and learn how they developed their careers and views on the workplace environment. Alison offers her own strategy to navigating her career development stressing that, “I always ask my managers: ‘How did you get to where you are today?’ Hearing what they wish they’d done or didn’t do can really help you to know what to keep a lookout for when you’re going through exactly what they went through. They’ll be more than happy to meet with you, and they’ll want to see you succeed.”
Alison’s growing personal and professional network serves as a paradigm for students seeking to command the course of their own professional progression. An internship is more than an addition to a resume; its true merit lies within the opportunity it presents for students to receive the necessary skills and proficiency to navigate the professional world, while still at the undergraduate level. While accessing the necessary career resources on-campus serves as the first step towards career development, it’s essential to consider those additional resources around you that may also aid in your career advancement. Deriving the utmost experience as well as enjoyment from an experiential education opportunity need not seem an anomaly – the opportunity you seek may just be an inquiry away.
Written By: Kerry Reynolds, Class of 2021