A few weeks into her position as a corporate treasury intern at Fidelity Investments, Cassandra “Casi” Nájera Castillo ’24 was tasked with leading a meeting. Though this is her first internship, she didn’t hesitate.
Presenting in front of co-workers could make even a seasoned professional sweat. Nájera Castillo called on her campus leadership experience, including as co-founder and president of Babson College’s Semillas Society chapter, to guide her.
“I’ve been leading a lot of those meetings (for Semillas), so when it came to leading a team meeting (at Fidelity), I have that experience in talking to people and explaining what needs to be done,” Nájera Castillo said . “In the corporate world, it’s a little different, as I have my manager there. If I get off track or if I have a question, because they’ve been working on projects since before I got there, my manager can jump in and explain.”
This opportunity in the Boston Fidelity offices has been a supportive learning experience for Nájera Castillo, one where she can pursue her professional interests with encouragement and guidance. Fellow Babson undergraduate students across industries are having similar experiences.
Summer internships have evolved over the past few years right along with the corporate world, whether it is switching to a hybrid or remote model or adapting projects and workstyles for a Gen Z workforce. What has remained strong is what makes internships so important: providing a professional environment for students and young professionals to gain skills, confidence, and experience.
An Adaptable Curriculum
A leadership role in a club or organization is not the only stepping stone for interns. The Babson undergraduate curriculum, with its emphasis on business fundamentals mixed with the liberal arts and sciences, sets up students to take on roles with resolve.
Ashley Lim ’23, a California native, is spending her summer at the IBM office in Austin, Texas. She has always had a passion for technology but never saw herself as a computer scientist, opting for the business side of the industry. That has led to her interest in technical product management, which involves working with developers to get products to market and manage them throughout the product development lifecycle.
“My (previous) summer internship was at a medium-sized tech company and was focused on sales, marketing, and finance, which are more applicable to go-to-market product management. So, my experience at IBM has not only proven that technology is what I want to work in but also has provided me with a different perspective on product management,” said Lim, who plans on pursuing the technology entrepreneurship concentration.
While performing her duties as the product manager intern for IBM’s Cloud Pak for Watson AIOps, she has called on what she learned from Babson’s Case Studies In Business Analytics course.
“It was a data science-heavy course; my professor had us actually doing code,” Lim said. “It was super helpful because I’m working on a project that involves ‘productizing’ two internal artificial intelligence tools that detect anomalies within datasets. Having a basic understanding of how such files are structured has allowed me to increase my productivity and credibility when speaking with data scientists and engineers building our website and improving the tools.”
“My experience at IBM has not only proven that technology is what I want to work in but also has provided me with a different perspective on product management.”
Ashley Lim ’23
Nájera Castillo likewise says her finance classes have helped her recognize industry terms in meetings. Also joining her at Fidelity (albeit a few departments and thousands of miles away working remotely) is personal finance and customer advocate intern Ann Pearl ’24, who sees her internship as a chance to pursue her passion for customer service and learn about personal finance.
Pearl is a Natalie Taylor Scholar, a program with an emphasis on social justice, and she has been carving out her community-building skills over her two years at Babson. “Through FME and clubs,” she said, “Babson builds you into a leader.” She also cites how important her math courses are, especially when it comes to analyzing data.
“In regards to technology (at Fidelity), we use a lot of apps to assist the customers,” Pearl said. “My background in technology at Babson, using programs like Risk and other platforms, has prepared me to succeed in this internship.”
A Strong Helping Hand
With summer internships, Babson students aren’t just getting a resume booster. Corporate internships are a chance to grow fundamental business skills, such as workload management, networking, technical and software skill building, and advocacy for yourself and your goals. Nájera Castillo learned that last part early in her interview process.
A recruiter had reached out to her on Handshake about a human resources internship at Fidelity. She spent over an hour talking to the recruiter but at the call’s end, she expressed interest in a position that was more marketing and finance-related. The recruiter worked internally at Fidelity to set up an interview for a role that fit Nájera Castillo’s interest, which turned into her summer internship. “I was nervous before the interview, but it went really great,” Nájera said. “Thirty minutes later, my recruiter texted me.”
Pearl also found her role, part of the Fidelity Aspire fellowship program, on Handshake. She leaned on Hoffman Family Undergraduate Center for Career Development (CCD) resources for help with her resume and interview. “They find little things to help me prepare and not be nervous for interviews,” she said. “They know what recruiters are looking for—they have that eye.”
CCD campus resources aren’t the only Babson tool students leverage either. Lim, knowing she wanted a specific type of experience, found her IBM position on LinkedIn. Her next step was an important one: She reached out to two Babson alumni currently working as product managers at IBM, Annie Sheil ’21 and John Wen ’20. Lim reflected saying, “The Babson network was amazing, I don’t think I would’ve gotten my foot in the door if it wasn’t for those referrals.”
Whether it’s crystalizing professional goals, gaining public speaking experience, or just discovering how the classroom applies in the real world, learning remains the crux of internships. For students such as Nájera Castillo, it means the class has just begun.
“I am taking this summer to explore that finance interest I’ve always had,” Nájera Castillo said. “It’s about exploring something new and taking my time to make sure I am where I’m supposed to be. I am in no rush to get a certain position.”
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