Fitting In: My College to Corporate Internship Experience

“Am I a right fit?” This is the question that I continually asked myself throughout my initial interview at Vanguard for the College to Corporate internship. There I was, conducting an interview at one of the largest asset management firms in the world, without any other type of internships to my name. Talking to the other students being interviewed, I started to hear the names of some highly reputable internships that other potential candidates have completed. At this point, I realized that I may have underestimated the caliber of the students who were selected to interview for the College to Corporate internship, which made me doubt my own achievements.

You see, prior to this interview I had no experience working in the financial sector, unlike many other applicants for the internship. My professional experience consisted of research in a biology and physics lab, a mentoring position on campus, a teaching assistant position, and a science-based leadership role on campus. For a smaller-sized company, this would be excellent…but for a financial firm that has more than 4 trillion dollars in assets, I felt that my experiences made me an outlier compared to the other candidates, and not in a good way. All I could think was, “Why would they interview someone with no financial experience to take an internship at a financial company?” But as the interview progressed, I started to realize that although Vanguard is a financial company, having a strong financial background wasn’t all that Vanguard looks for in its applicants.

Although having a working knowledge of finance is necessary for working at Vanguard, the company values another element just as much as the knowledge of finance. This trait has many names, but here at Vanguard it’s called a “rotational mindset.” The crew members here at Vanguard have the opportunity to not just work in their role and follow that career path, but potentially move to another role that requires a completely different skill set than the previous role did. To be successful in this new position, you must be able to adapt to new changes, and use your transferable skills, whether it is leadership, analytical, communication, or something else entirely, to be able to take on the new challenges of this position. With this information I started to understand why I was interviewing with the rest of these candidates.

Throughout my tenure in college, I worked in a variety of disciplines. Although none of them were finance-related, all of my involvement required a different set of skills to tackle and solve the various problems in each of these disciplines: meticulous patience, strong analytical skills, and emotional intelligence among other things. This helped me develop the rotational mindset that Vanguard values in all of its crew members, from the new hires to the most senior leaders in the company.

Now, with 10 days left in the internship, I see why having this rotational mindset was so important to have while working at Vanguard. For my projects, I have had to work and learn from people across many different departments here at Vanguard, and having a wide variety of skills that transferred to each project helped me understand the avalanche of new information over the course of the internship.

So when you are developing your resume for the College to Corporate internship, ask yourself “Why Me?” Don’t try and just build the typical finance internship resume, because chances are there are other people doing the same thing, and Vanguard is more than just another “finance company”. Try something outside of your comfort zone, and show Vanguard, and the world, that your skills are not limited to just one field.

– Edeki O.

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