Student Internship Improves Customer Service
Senior Finance Major
Joe Ciliak says that one of the most attractive aspects of studying business at Eastern Illinois University is the small class sizes which enable students to connect with professors on not only an educational level but also a personal level. Joe says, "I find that the connections I have made with my professors are very valuable. Because a lot of professors have worked in their respective industries, they have a good professional network that they can then pass on to students."
Joe secured an internship with JPMorgan Chase after the EIU Career Fair during his junior year. Joe says, "After the career fair, I started applying online to any and every financial institution I could think of. I applied to small private firms, big commercial banks, and everything in between. I tried to apply to at least five different companies every day. I continued to apply online and pursue some other personal leads for the rest of the semester and into the spring semester. In early February, I got an email from JPMorgan Chase about being selected to begin the interview process. About three weeks later, I was interviewed a few times. Once with an HR person, which was basically a screening interview where they asked me some general information about me. I then interviewed with two different managers, one of whom actually ended up being my manager for the summer internship. I was asked in detail about my education, work experience, and some situational questions. Two days after completing my last interview, I received a call from a recruiter congratulating me and offering me an internship position."
At JPMorgan Chase, Joe worked in the Vendor Management Office (VMO) under Consumer and Business Banking. He says, "I dealt with vendors who had direct customer contact. My main focus and work effort went towards customer complaint tracking." Joe also helped to prepare for an Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) audit during his internship, "I had to assess the current state of customer complaint tracking. I was looking to see how vendors were keeping track of customer complaints and then how those complaints were brought into Chase's internal systems."
Joe's internship experience provided him the opportunity to use the skills he had been developing in the classroom. The most important of these skills for Joe was time management. He says, "As the summer progressed, I was given more and more responsibilities, all with competing deadlines. However, I was used to this from taking a full load of classes for three years, and I knew how to handle it. I created a list of my tasks and assigned priorities to each. For example, creating PowerPoint decks for meetings takes priority over regularly scheduled database cleanup and updating. By prioritizing and tracking my progress on of all of my tasks and objectives, I was able to manage my work load efficiently and meet all of my deadlines."
Joe notes the importance of completing an internship, as doing so prepares students for their careers. Specifically, completing an internship allowed Joe to adapt to the vocabulary of the business world, "The biggest challenge for me was to adapt to Chase's acronyms and business style. One my first day, it was almost like everyone was speaking a different language. Sometimes sentences consisted almost entirely of acronyms. I was able to overcome this by doing research through the company intranet and by not being afraid to ask my manager or mentor questions about acronyms or what something meant."
Looking back on his internship, Joe says, "I learned a lot about myself over the course of my internship. I learned that I am capable of succeeding in the professional world. I surprised myself by how quickly I was able to learn and adapt to a new business environment. Being confident is something that I realized is crucial in the business world. In order to be taken seriously, especially as a young professional, being confident and projecting that confidence to whomever you are communicating is very important. I learned that things almost always take longer than you expect, so be flexible, set realistic timelines, and plan for the unexpected. I also realized how important teamwork is in the professional world. Being an athlete my entire life, I have always understood the importance of teamwork. Teamwork translated seamlessly to the business world and is critical to success."
Joe has a wealth of advice to share with current students: "Get the most out of your classes by participating in class discussions, going the extra mile when doing homework and projects, and making an effort to get to know your professors. If they see you taking a serious interest in your classes, they will be more than willing to help you with your schoolwork and to develop you as a young professional. Take advantage of all that Eastern has to offer. Join registered student organizations, and participate in things around campus. Get your name out there and network with other students. Utilize EIU's Career Services for resumes, cover letters, mock interviews, career fairs, and more."