Nicole Dahlgren ‘20 is one of the first of her peers to land a full-time job offer before her upcoming graduation in December! While pursuing her bachelor’s degree in marketing, Nicole has also worked in several summer internships with companies such as Phoenix Marketing International and Dell EMC. With her last semester at Merrimack underway, she joins us to chat about her latest internship, her advice for fellow students and what’s next.
Hi Nicole! Thanks for letting us chat with you about your experience with Dell EMC! Can you tell us about the process of finding and applying for your internship?
NICOLE DAHLGREN: Thank you for reaching out! When I heard of the position through a current Dell EMC sales employee, I applied and went through the interview process last fall. I had three different interviews. The first one was interesting; I had to record a video of my responses to five different questions, and then I was interviewed over the phone by two different managers. It was such a relief to land this internship after spending so much time searching for positions online and preparing for these interviews — I was so excited! I felt like the work I put into the search was well worth the time.
Glad to hear it all felt worthwhile! The search has been time-consuming for everyone, with the ongoing pandemic. With that in mind, how did COVID-19 impact your internship?
My internship program was moved entirely remote by the time the summer came around, as was the case for so many people. It would have been awesome to have experienced the office setting in Franklin, MA, but I feel like the internship program was incredibly well-executed online. It felt as close to an in-person experience as it could because our managers kept us very engaged; we had meaningful interactions with a ton of different people.
How did going remote impact your responsibilities? Take us through your day-to-day experience.
The program ran through June and July, and every day was structured down to the hour. For the first 4 weeks or so, we had pretty intensive training sessions to learn different tech products in the EMC portfolio, and the product stories to tell to customers. During the latter half of the summer, each intern was aligned to a team of sales associates, and we were given metrics to hit, including 50 dials a day to cold call customers. Our goal was to get as much information around the customers’ data centers as possible, and identify if there was an opportunity for Dell EMC to work with them. Later on, we were assigned to shadow another team, inside sales reps — and throughout the summer, we had testing points called “hot seats” and mock calls. The program gave us a feel for what a full-time position would look like when starting out, and also for the next role after a promotion.
Now that you’ve got a feel for the job, which of your skills are strengths to it? Are there any skills you’ve developed since you’ve started?
I went into the internship wanting to learn and be exposed to as much as possible. I’ve always thrown myself into whatever I’m involved in, and I noticed that other interns brought this same curiosity which helped them succeed as well. Our managers preached to “get comfortable being uncomfortable.” A skill set in and of itself was learning technology through every facet, from data storage to the cloud. I’m now able to understand key elements of the data center, which will give me a solid foundation for starting full-time in February. I feel like I’ve personally grown so much, and the confidence I have now is loads higher than it was when I started in June.
That’s awesome; the confidence is well-deserved, considering your full-time offer! How do you feel your internship helped you secure that?
Thank you! I was given the opportunity to see exactly what my day-to-day would look like in a full-time role, because the internship program was designed for that. I always tried to visualize myself in the employees’ shoes, to understand if I could see myself pursuing this. By the end of the internship program, I knew that I wanted to come back full time, mostly because of the culture, and how invested I felt as an intern. Going through this internship program was definitely eye opening for me to see the skills needed to succeed in the full-time role, and it became clear to me what I had to do to secure the offer.
And secure it you did. Congratulations! Pivoting to your time at Merrimack, you’ve met with several career advisors before. Can you speak to the importance of meeting with your career advisor and what you gained?
Meeting with career advisors always made me feel like I was getting a hold of my life after college. Four years goes by fast, and I felt more prepared to tackle post-grad life after speaking with my advisors. It’s important to meet with them because they provide you the tools to find internships, career fairs, and other networking events within your major.
Besides direct advising, how else was Merrimack able to prepare you? Any shoutouts you’d like to make?
Although I didn’t find this position through Merrimack, the school was incredibly supportive and helped me actually land the internship. Everyone at the O’Brien Center was genuinely excited to help me prepare for my interviews back in the fall, and I was even able to book private rooms in Arcidi to interview in. I always appreciated how these people made me feel — it wasn’t like they were just doing their job. They truly wanted me to succeed, and were invested in my journey. Merrimack has always made me feel important and valued, and never just a number in a crowd of students.
In terms of professors, Joe Stasio is one-of-a-kind. I’ve learned more from him about succeeding in the business world than I have from anyone else. He’s taught me even more about living a meaningful life, and the power my mind has to achieve great things. Professor Stasio made me feel like the possibilities are endless, and I thank him for the impact he’s had on my life — professionally and personally.
Is there any advice you can pass on to fellow Merrimack students with regard to career development, interviewing or applying for positions?
Search and apply early! If I hadn’t spent the first semester of my junior year grinding to find my internship, I would have been scrambling to find something while companies were shutting down due to COVID. Some solid advice: you never know when something like a global pandemic is going to strike and mix things up. Do something today that will positively influence your tomorrow.
That’s great advice, and pretty topical! Thanks again, Nicole, and good luck with your last semester!
Are you ready to secure an internship or employment for the fall and beyond? The O’Brien Center for Career Development is here to help you! Visit Handshake today to search for open opportunities, meet with your career advisor, and more.