As a psychology major, accepting entrance into the MSTM program here at Illinois was a big step. I had no business experience and the closest I had to a class in business were two industrial/organizational psychology courses (hardly a solid business background). But before I did indeed accept my invitation into the program, I made sure to talk to Professor Dilip Chhajed. Professor Chhajed recommended that I secure a summer business internship which would count for credit in lieu of an introduction to business course. With an internship counting for credit and a paired online statistics course, I was afforded the ability to complete me summer semester from anywhere in the world.
As I began my search, it was already getting very late in the year to be looking for an internship. I had only a few leads but eventually got an interview with an accounting firm in Boston, Massachusetts. This interview led to an internship opportunity and I was moved in with family I have in the Bostonian suburbs less than two weeks later. I was to be working on a "software-as-a-service" risk management program offered through the risk management sector of the firm.
Over the summer I ended up working on a number of different tasks involved with the product I was associated with. I worked on sales documents in hopes of streamlining the sales process for better efficiency and accuracy. I also worked on creating checklists and workflows for futures product releases. My most important task however, was to help design screens for future products. Using Microsoft Visio, I had to create the look, the feel, and the underlying relationships between different screens for specific "modules" based off of barebones functional outlines. Though designing these screens themselves were not very difficult, it was difficult to understand the connections between them because I had no experience with any of the terms or how these things went together. Over time the terminology began to sink in and so did some of the concepts, but that wasn't the only thing I took away from my internship.
In addition to having explicit tasks with tangible outcomes and lessons, I learned quite a bit through simply being in a business environment. Included in the things I learned were how to hold meetings, train individuals on new technologies, and. Interface with clients. I also got experience around an experienced and enigmatic manager, whom I hope to emulate in the future. I also had to take statistic online course during my internship. This was beneficial for me because I have the choice to set up my schedule to finish assignments at my own pace. I can logged in anytime, the course was effective with dedicated teaching assistants and we were encouraged to discuss the materials over the course’s online forum, which helped me understand the materials faster.
Overall, my internship experience and online summer course were quite fruitful and provided me a great foundation for my upcoming year in MSTM. I look forward to applying what I learn in the classroom to what I experienced this past summer.