Internships lead to unusual jobs, challenges

Summer interns are usually tasked with errands and coffee orders, but one Norwich University senior accounting major was, “dealing with millions and millions of dollars every single day,” as part of his internship.

“I was overlooking multi-million-dollar invoices, allocating money to their appropriate accounts, building accounting packets and basically verifying that our company’s money was going to all the correct places,” said Brandon Beal, 21, a senior accounting major from Quincy, Mass.

Beal spent his summer working on the “accounts payable” team as an intern for Advent International, a global private equity firm, that has $40 billion dollars of investments in more than 300 companies world-wide.

As an intern, Beal was mostly responsible for confirming employee travel expenses, making sure that employees received reimbursements for expenses during business out of the office. When he wasn’t overlooking things in the expenses paid department, Beal was tasked with looking over multi-million-dollar invoices that were to be sent out to businesses world-wide.

Working in partnership with big accounting firms like Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), Beal would give careful inspections of accounts that Advent International held with businesses all across the world and made sure that everything “added up” so that the money would be ready to be sent out.

“I was a part of a team [double checking] to make sure that all the money was going to the correct places. Monday and Thursday were pay cycle days, at two o’clock all the invoices we had verified and processed would be automatically sent money from our banks, so we had to make sure that everything was perfect,” Beal said. “There were four managers, two full time employees and me as an intern that made up the team.”

Acquiring an internship with such high responsibility is not an easy thing to do alone, and Beal made it clear that Norwich assisted him greatly in landing such a great job.

“Norwich has great alumni, I’m really close with the Board of Fellows for the business department and I have been working with them personally on a project,” said Beal, who had connected with a former Norwich accounting major whom he met through his accounting class last year and was nice enough to help him get his summer internship.

Knowing the right people may help in acquiring an internship of such a magnitude but Beal also said he possessed the “basic accounting skills” needed to get the job done right. With the accounting knowledge he has built up while studying at Norwich, he was able to perform at a level impressive enough for the VP of the company to take notice.

“The VP heard how well my work was and met with me personally, she is even talking to the chief financial officer of the company to try to work out a time-line and possibly hire me next year,” said Beal. As if a regular nine to five work week wasn’t enough, Beal took on working overtime hours to prove his worth to the company, showing perseverance, a quality he says he learned at Norwich.

In today’s society, it is just as important for a business to manage its money as it is for them to manage their image. One junior communications major did just that, when he worked as a marketing communications intern, this summer for Carpet Co-Op of America (CCA) Global Partners.

“I was working in the ‘Savings for Members’ team as part of the marketing communications department. Our job was to limit the operational costs for small businesses so that they could save the most money possible,” said Ethan Hagstrom, 20, a junior communications major from Bedford, N.H.

Hagstrom expressed his passion for his job, explaining that his work helped save businesses save money so that they can stay in business for years to come. “Sixty percent of small businesses don’t make it longer than three years, and they are the backbone of our economy,” Hagstrom said.

All businesses, no matter the size, have expenses to be paid to be functional, Hagstrom was a part of the team, “making sure businesses have everything they need to stay in business (with focus on) lowering their operational costs.”

Making sure businesses were getting the best deals possible for their expenses was the main goal for Hagstrom and his team. Whether it was getting them better deals with telephone bills or buying the cheap office supplies in bulk, companies rely on people like Hagstrom to “stay afloat” in the business world, without saving money on expenses they could go bankrupt.

“We’d come up with offers, deals and promotions that we offered to these businesses to help them save money,” Hagstrom said his day would start with a meeting with his supervisor. “I would keep her up to date with projects I was currently working on and after that keep to myself really and work on projects independently, which was nice.”

“Going to Norwich definitely helped prepare me for this job, in fact being in the journalism class was even more helpful. My job as a marketing intern, I had to interview vendors that we would work with, like regional managers at Exxon Mobil and Sprint, so I couldn’t be incompetent. Knowing how to ask the right questions and conduct a good interview was a huge help for me,” Hagstrom said.

When Hagstrom wasn’t working on independent projects he was a part of a four-man intern team that worked together on divisional projects, including marketing design work and generating content for social media.

“I enjoy marketing, I think it’s very important to recognize needs and what a business needs in order to look attractive to the market,” Hagstrom said. It’s a sad statistic to see so many companies struggling to survive in the market, Hagstrom was happy to work to help make that percentage lower.

The Internet rules most of the marketing world in the current age, “Joe the plumber might not know how to create an online ad for his business, and there is so much client potential missed out on because of that. These are the types of businesses that outsource to people like us, so that we can help market their product or service and reach more clientele,” Hagstrom said.

As much as modern business relies upon software and computers to run things, without someone to maintain their hardware things would literally fall apart. A junior communications major worked as a radio engineer and maintenance worker for his internship this summer.

“I worked as an intern in the engineering department, fixing equipment in radio stations. Within a week of working there they also hired me to be maintenance, which was cool because I got to repair and maintain transmitter sites for Vermont Public Radio,” said Hussein Kanaan, 21, a junior communications major from Natick, Mass.

Like the other students, Kanaan was offered a part time job after his summer internship concluded. “They wanted to keep me on part time, but the workload was getting pretty heavy, sometimes I was working over 60 hours a week,” Kanaan said.

As a member of the Marine Corps Reserves for the past three and half years, Kanaan had previous experience fixing, maintaining and operating radio equipment,. Being a part of the communications program at Norwich helped further his knowledge and land him a job at a real radio station this summer.

“I’ve been a field radio operator in the Marine Reserves for a few years now, which involves me programing and maintaining radios on multiple frequencies, both encrypted and non-encrypted as well as radios with antennas,” said Kanaan. “Professor Smith, who teaches the radio class here at Norwich and runs Dog River Radio helped me a lot. He put me in touch with the people at The Point and I got to sit down with them in an interview to get this internship.”

Kanaan worked well enough at his internship to be invited to come back both in the spring and summer of this upcoming year. “They want me to come back and intern again so that they can really tailor me to hopefully be their next official engineer,” Kanaan said.

Kanaan, in a way, worked as an apprentice for the current radio engineer. “That guy knew a lot, and basically mentored me on how to do everything. I got to follow him around and really learn a lot about stuff I wouldn’t be able to learn without this experience,” Kanaan said.

Kanaan also utilized his maintenance skills on the job, doing anything from fixing stairwells to insulating pipes for the winter at the station.

Winter preparation is a big deal at a Vermont radio station. Something as little as a frozen pipe could leave a station immobilized for days, Kanaan made sure that everything was working properly.

No matter what the job is, all the interns agreed on one thing: “Murphy’s Law,” where everything that can go wrong will go wrong eventually. For these students, who were all cadets, they felt they were educated and molded to tackle any challenge and persevere in the face of adversity, giving them an advantage when they eventually join the workforce full-time.

Perhaps Kanaan said it best. “I would come over-prepared for every task at hand. If you don’t have the right equipment or (skills) for the job, it’s not only detrimental to your work. but also a waste of precious time,” he said.

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