Professional experience is important in building a healthy resume, which is exactly why finance major Robert Leon began exploring internship opportunities for the summer. Approaching his junior year of college, he wanted the opportunity to intern at a small firm to gain some practical experience since his resume was somewhat bleak in the financial sector.
Leon’s search process led him to an amazing opportunity with financial giant JPMorgan Chase (JPMC). The worst thing, he thought, was that they would just say no. Not having high hopes, Leon was surprised to receive an email notifying him that his application had passed the first round of screening and he was selected as a candidate.
The next step was to write two essays, one that explained why he would like to intern with JPMC and one that shared his interest in the financial sector. Two weeks after submitting his essays, Leon received another email that said he was chosen for an interview. Leon describes the whole interview process as a surreal experience.
The interview was a two-day event in Dallas, Texas, which consisted of various meetings, seminars and a face-to-face interview. During the interview process, JPMC also offered advice on how to transition from the classroom to corporate America, information that will be extremely helpful entering the workforce.
Leon’s professors at Waynesburg spent a few weeks prepping him with mock interviews to better prepare him with possible questions and build his confidence.
“It was quite intimidating coming from a small school, but from sitting down and talking with the other students, I felt strongly about my preparation and the coursework that Waynesburg University has provided me,” said Leon. “I could go toe-to-toe with any of those students and I credit a lot of that to the diligence and constant challenges that Dr. Ola has given me.”
Leon competed against 19 other candidates from many high profile national schools. He was offered the position about a week after the Dallas interview event.
Leon’s acceptance led him to JPMC’s corporate offices in Columbus, Ohio, to serve as a two-month summer intern in the Chase Leadership Development Program, serving on the Consumer Bank Risk Management Quality Assurance team.
Much of his work included checking controls and running tests in different proprietary applications to ensure that fraud alerts are triggered in different transactions, which was a completely new area for Leon and presented him with some challenges along the way.
“Just within the first two weeks, I learned far more than I would have expected,” said Leon. “It wasn’t a job of making copies and getting coffee; I was [quickly] doing practical work to help add value to the team.”
In addition to learning the job responsibilities and managing his schedule, Leon was challenged by the international scope of his team, half of which was located in Mumabi, India. This presented Leon with a time zone and language barrier that he didn’t expect going into the internship.
“We have conference calls or telepresence meetings to get everyone together, but you can’t just walk down the hall to ask a question,” said Leon. “Patience and understanding were the only ways to describe how to handle those situations.”
Fortunately, Leon describes, everyone was very helpful with whatever questions he had. He shared that questions were encouraged because it shows that you are engaged in your work.
Overall, the experience was everything Leon had hoped for and more.
“The internship has shown me what corporate culture is like and what is expected on a daily basis,” said Leon. “You have to use a creative mindset along with a strong analytical framework to figure out the problem and a way to deliver what is expected.”
Waynesburg has helped Leon in learning this mindset for approaching problems and handling a professional workload. He has a new level of appreciation for the liberal arts education he is receiving at the University and realized it has allowed him to appreciate the views and ideas of others more easily.
Even through his participation on Waynesburg sports teams, he has built professional skills that are important in the work force, such as time-management and prioritization.
“In the professional world, the to-do list never ends; there is always work to do, but you have to set your priorities for each day,” said Leon. “My experience in managing school work and sports has been a great asset to rely on in the workplace and helped me to show a willingness to take on multiple projects at one time.”
Being able to have this experience at such an early age has been a blessing for Leon. The opportunities, both educationally and professionally, can be endless moving forward.