Wow. The BRIDGE Externship with Cornerstone Research exceeded my expectations by miles.
To name SOME of the highlights of my three-day experience, we shadowed several analysts and managers, participated in Stata/Excel/Reporting workshops, and analyzed and presented real cases. I was blown away by the diversity of this office; the employees all have unique backgrounds and interests, which enhances the dynamic culture here. There are employees who are either pursuing an MBA, PHD, Law school, or have a CPA/CFA, you name it. Because litigation consulting covers such a broad range of topics, having such a wide span of talent truly benefits the company.
I had the pleasure of learning about Cornerstone Research as well as develop useful business skills that can carry over to any professional related to the finance, consulting, or general business. Furthermore, it was great getting a glimpse of the real work force. The only thing I would change about this externship is to extend it from three days to five days! Other than that, it was very well structured and organized. Our host demonstrated great enthusiasm and passion for his work throughout the entire experience, which made it more fun and exciting for the externs.
I cannot thank USC and Cornerstone Research enough for establishing such a great program for Marshall students to gain hands-on experience in the work force. I am glad that I had the privilege of being part of this opportunity and I definitely recommend the BRIDGE Externship Program to anyone looking to apply.
Wednesday was the second and last day of the externship program. We were able to go to the Nestle office in Glendale and shadow a KPMG auditing team on site. The day started with a cool tour of what is known as “The Nest”. It is basically a store in the lobby of the office that sells every product that Nestle produces! Think candy, ice cream, and snacks, etc. And yes, it is as awesome as it sounds.
Following that, we had a quick tour of the Nestle office, and then settled down to get to know the audit team. Speaking with them was such an eye-opening experience, because I was able to see firsthand what their work and lifestyle was like. What’s unique is that their work is done almost completely outside of the KPMG office. Instead of going into their office every morning, they work from their client site, because they are working directly with the client departments to request files, documents, etc.
The externship experience was very short, but sweet. I learned a lot over the course of it, and it definitely helped to reaffirm my decision in pursuing an accounting career. Thank you to the Bridge Externship Program for this amazing opportunity!
I can’t believe it has already been almost a week since I ended my externship at Strategic Partners! I do not even know how to start to describe this amazing experience. First of all I wanted to express how grateful I was to have received the opportunity to extern at Strategic Partners and also getting to meet you and learn more about what your department does within this company. The complexity of the company and every single department really surprised me, because they all really work like little gears in a clock and it is so true that one cannot work without the others.
In this whole week long program, I got to completely immerse myself in each department and get in depth descriptions about what every single one of them did. This was really important to me because it opened my eyes as to what departments I fit in and which ones I don’t. This has definitely been an invaluable opportunity that has helped me decide more clearly what career path I want to take and I would recommend that everyone participate in this program. Apart from that it was a really good opportunity to network and meet a lot of amazing people.
I am very thankful for Marshall and the countless opportunities it offers to have hands-on experience and interactions with the business world. The Bridge Externship Program was a very unique opportunity for me to explore a different industry of business that I originally never would have considered.
From my time externing at TJX Companies, I was able to observe the corporate, buying-side of the retail industry. This experience allowed me to discover that the industry is unique in the way that it requires both creativity and attention to detail. The retail industry requires a lot of personal interaction between buyers and vendors and buyers are allowed a lot of freedom to take risks and exercise their judgement in buying products for their company.
In addition to the work performed in the retail industry, I learned about the importance of a good work environment. The work relationship between the buyer, manager, and merchandising assistant, Marcia, Sandy, and Emily was a very healthy, dynamic relationship from which all participants benefited. As an individual who prizes relationships with people I work, I hope that in the future, I may have the same experience with my managers and colleagues. I believe the fun work environment at TJX allows for the expansion of creativity and passion about the work that each individual does and produces greater results.
Having had this externship, I now know that the retail industry is an option that I would like to explore in the future. Although it was brief, this externship has been a very valuable learning experience.
School is back in session, but we’ve only got a little over 5 weeks of classes until finals. That means summer is near! Reflecting back on spring break, I am so proud of how productive my break was. Spending those 4 days with Toyota allowed me to learn the ins and outs of the company while still being able to relax at night and the weekend. I made connections and started relationships that can only be an asset to me, especially after I graduate. Most importantly, I also learned what I could potentially do further down my career path.
Being at Toyota reaffirmed that I fit a corporate culture the most and want to work in one after I graduate. I can also see myself at TFS after I have established myself in the work force because Toyota does not have many entry level positions besides the management training program. The people were awesome, the work is respectable, and the benefits are competitive as well. On that note, I also learned how critical different aspects of business need to really collaborate effectively in order to maximize profits and satisfy customers. Working with the marketing team has really opened my eyes because I got to see a new side of the business whereas all my past experiences lie within financial services.
Thank you USC and Marshall for this wonderful opportunity. I was able to experience a lot during these four days that would not have been possible if it was not for this program and the great alumni that are part of it. I highly recommend the Bridge program even if you know what you want to do after you graduate. This truly is a rare experience that every Marshall student should take advantage of.
It’s been a week since my externship at Strategic Partners and the memories that I made with the people there, the company itself, and my USC friends still leave a remarkable impression in my heart. As I come back to my busy student life, I find myself becoming a more knowledgeable and confident person. After many talks with the employees at the firm, I realize that, if compared to an employee’s life, a student’s life is not hard at all. Most of my friends, including myself in the past, share a misconception that work life is way better than school life. Surely most of us find projects, homework, meetings, and extracurricular activities stressful, but at least we have breaks and our mistakes are often tolerable. In contrast, some employees have to work over the weekends and a small mistake from an employee can cost the company substantially. Thus, it was not a big surprise when an USC alumni at the firm shared with me that, “if someone pays me to go to school again, I would absolutely do it.” Thus, while we are still at school, we might as well take this opportunity seriously and be optimistic that the better we prepare in school, the better our futures will be. I thank you USC for giving students like us so many tools to prepare us well, and this Externship Program is definitely one of them.
In terms of my career path, I begin to have a few basic ideas of what kind of company that I would like to work for. Strategic Partners is a slow-paced, quite, and comfortable place to work. However, I would imagine myself being more productive in a fast-paced, dynamic, and challenging workplace. Also, I have witnessed the power of net working. Most of the people whom I talked to at the company told me that they get to where they are today because of the people whom they interacted in the past. Overall, it is not too exaggerated to claim that “your network is your net worth.”
I can’t believe that it has already been two days. Time has flown by in a whirlwind of meetings and appointments. Desmond had warned us that Wednesday would be a long day as we would be driving to Claremont to see some clients. Despite his hand injury, Desmond insisted on driving the entire stretch. It is remarkable to see how his dedication and passion towards his job. Our first meeting was with an elderly gentleman regarding his health insurance plan. However, upon reaching his home, we discovered that he had been taken to the hospital. This demonstrates the nature of the business and the need for flexibility. Desmond wasn’t dissuaded and simply finished up some paperwork before the next appointment.
Our second meeting was with a couple regarding their pension plan. Since it was a quick meeting, we sat in the car while Desmond had a brief chat with the client. We then proceeded to Starbucks for our last meeting. It was with a divorcee who wanted Desmond’s help with her settlement. She was the niece of one of Desmond’s loyal clients and had consulted him upon receiving a glowing recommendation from her uncle. This really drove home the importance of good word-of-mouth publicity and superior service. She was very pleased with the meeting as Desmond walked her through the process and explained how she could better manage her investments. She was so impressed with Desmond’s preparation that she enlisted him to help her plan her future finances as well. As the day finally ended, I realized the rigor and grind of the job and the need to keep an open mind if things don’t go as scheduled.
Thursday was packed with great learning experiences as we accompanied Desmond on several meetings. In the morning, Desmond introduced us to the AXA Advisors portal through which we could take virtual lessons. He provided us with his login and password and encouraged us to explore the site. As we navigated the database, we learnt several interesting concepts such as the eight key steps of a successful financial sale. Towards noon, we headed to the café downstairs for our lunch meeting. Desmond had been kind enough to organize a lunch meeting with Vishal, a USC alumnus who was a computer forensic expert. Vishal was more than happy to offer advice on school and career and spoke about how he had gotten to his current position. It was fascinating to learn how one computer forensic accounting class at USC had led him to pursue his career in the field. He discussed the travel component of his job that was both demanding and exciting. He shared his journey starting from India to community college to USC and advocated the importance of being a go-getter. He also gave some great suggestions on how we can make ourselves stand out from other applicants. He was more than willing to keep in touch and even gave us his contact information. It was truly gratifying to learn how strong the bonds of the Trojan family truly are.
After this, Desmond and I proceeded to attend another meeting with a prospective client in Torrance. The client was interested in purchasing a health insurance plan for his wife and himself. It was fascinating to observe how Desmond molded his response to suit the client’s needs and concerns. The client was a wealth but extremely busy business owner. This also exposed me to the diverse profile of clients that Desmond deals with. The meeting was quite successful and the client scheduled a follow-up appointment. Today was a great blend of excellent advice and hands-on observation that helped me develop a well-rounded perspective. I am confident that whatever I have learnt from the experience so far will be of great help in all my future endeavors.
Day 5: Friday, March 21, 2014
As the final day approaches, I was filled with emotions of both happiness and sadness: happy that I had accumulated a great amount of knowledge over the week, but sad that this experience was coming to a close. On Friday, Desmond was kind enough to take us to a USC Marshall Alumni lunch in Newport Beach. I had the pleasure of meeting several alumni, learn about their careers, their time at Marshall and hear advice for the future. This was a great opportunity to begin networking with business professionals and gain a glimpse into various business industries. As the lunch came to a close, we had to say our goodbyes with Desmond and wish him luck on his upcoming surgery. Desmond was such a gracious and enthusiastic host and I could not be more thankful and appreciative of his time, expertise and passion. This externship has provided me insight into the financial industry that I simply could not experience from a textbook or in a classroom. Participating in this program has fueled my interest in finance and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for me. Thank you again!!
These past few days have been interesting! On Wednesday I continued to work on my vendor project and Marcia walked me through a week-end report that analyzed each department’s performance in TJMaxx. Marcia also showed me a purchase order template the company used to send orders to vendors. This template included things such as the product name, number, price, retail price, etc.
We closed the day with a vendor appointment! Sandy, Marcia, and I met with a business owner who displayed his jewelry which included rings and necklaces. The key piece of information the buyers wanted to know was whether the owner stocked his goods or made his products to order because a company of TJX’s size prefers their items to have a quick turn around for their stores.
On Thursday I shadowed the Merchandising Assistant, Emily, as she processed the Purchase Orders based off of the templates Marcia had showed me the day before. She can do as many as 100 a day depending on the vendor and their PO preferences. This PO information was sent to Planning and Allocation in Massachusetts for their operations.
After lunch with Marcia and the intern, Izza, I sat in on a meeting with Marcia and other employees in the product department. They discussed an exploratory trip into the wine country for home decorative accessories. Marcia emphasized having a global perspective when going on these trips and shopping for not only the US stores, but for Canada and the UK as well.
Marcia and I closed the day with some research on wine barrel accessory vendors that the exploratory team could visit. It was a rather unique business line so it was a search with few results - one that I would continue researching during my last day tomorrow!
My internship at TFS helped clarify some of my uncertainties about a career in marketing and reaffirmed that I truly do enjoy client-side marketing. Our host set up so many meetings with executive marketing managers that I was able to get a broad perspective of the challenges they face and how they understand marketing in the larger picture. I’m glad that I studied my business lectures well before this internship because I knew exactly every concept they talked about! My inner dork was tingling with excitement every time they mentioned a model I had studied.
Besides learning about my career path, I also learned how crucial the work environment and the people you work with is in making your work life enjoyable. The people at TFS are so kind but sharp and thoughtful. They are such a bright group and all my conversations with them were so intellectually stimulating. I’m glad that I could keep up with them and even challenge them further!
I also learned about the culture of Toyota and learned how I fared in that environment. Toyota is a very conservative/risk-averse and thus more slow paced in adopting innovation. The associates mentioned that if we thrive on progressive-ness and constant innovation, Toyota is not the place for us. I tried to test whether it bothered me that Toyota was like that and frankly, I don’t know. I think I would’ve appreciated if Toyota was more experimental, but at the same time, I appreciate certainty and well-tested models before adopting them too quickly. I would definitely consider Toyota as a future career choice because of my positive experience working with the people and the heart-warming culture they have amongst associates. Thank you USC for this wonderful experience! It has helped me make long-term relationships with associates and affirmed my career path!