Thanksgiving Networking Challenge – Take the challenge and enter to win an Eller Swag Bag!

Are you up to the challenge? At the Professional Development Center, we challenge you to network with 1 – 3 people over Thanksgiving break and tell us about it in the comments below. Three random comments will be selected to win an Eller Swag Bag. Contest ends midnight on Friday, Dec. 4.

Thanksgiving Network Challenge

3 Easy Steps to Networking While Home 
Thanksgiving and winter breaks are, no doubt, a great time to spend with family and friends, catch up on sleep, and take a relaxing break from the chaos of school. However, the holidays can also present valuable opportunities to get ahead in the career search process. Below are a few tips that you can do to take advantage of your time at home for Thanksgiving break:

  1. At the dinner table talk to your family about your career goals. Ask your parents and cousins or aunts and uncles about their career paths. Maybe you didn’t even realize your aunt works for a Big 4 accounting firm, or has a good friend in the entertainment industry.
  2. As you meet up with friends back home, talk about your career goals and upcoming internships. Maybe they (or their parents) have a connection.
  3. From the comfort of your computer – Thanksgiving is a great time to send greeting cards or emails to contacts in your network. The messages can mention some of the things you’ve been doing while in college and academic achievements that could lead to potential internship opportunities. While you’re at it, clean up your LinkedIn profile, and connect with your extended family.

Comment below for your chance to win an Eller Swag Bag! Tell us what you did to expand your network over Thanksgiving break. Contest ends midnight on Friday, Dec. 4.

Student Spotlight- Leila Shevins, Walmart Stores, Inc.

Leila Shevins is an MIS, Operations Management, and Retailing and Consumer Sciences junior who interned with Walmart Stores, Inc. in Arkansas this summer.
Leila Shevins

What was a typical day at your internship like?

There was no typical day in my internship. I was the only intern on my team, as opposed to other teams with over 30 interns in the same function. I was fortunate to have been assigned a mentor in a different department because I was able to work with my team in Innovations and then switch buildings to hear more about what the Marketing area was focused on. There were days where I would come into work, and I would have a few small assignments that needed to be completed within the first few hours. There were other days where I would solely focus on my project. Some days were spent entirely in our labs, some in Home Office, and others in the David Glass Technology Center. My team also held offsite meetings where we would spend a couple of hours bonding through a fun activity in Bentonville. My team kept us moving around to keep creativity flowing, which helped to make each day unique.

What was your favorite part of the internship?

I really enjoyed being given the creative freedom to build my own project. I was responsible for identifying the companies that I wanted to learn more about, contacting them, working with our lawyers to draw up NDAs (non-disclosure agreements), bringing technologies into our labs, and developing walk-throughs and presentations about the technologies. My manager and my team had a lot of faith in me from the start which provided me with the opportunity to show what I was capable of accomplishing without even being told what to do. My team was extremely supportive throughout the entire summer, and they were happy to help me whenever I did have questions. Above all else in my experience, I enjoyed the company of the people I worked with because they were the ones who made my internship at Walmart so great.

What advice do you have for other interns?

The biggest piece of advice is to network. Everything that you do involves your network. At one point in the summer, my manager was looking for more information on a product sold in stores. He was having difficulty finding the information, but I had remembered speaking to someone at a University of Arizona lunch who worked in the product’s department. I was able to utilize my growing network to locate the information for my manager, which, needless to say, impressed him. Another strong suggestion is to stay active wherever you are. Reach out to those near you to see if anyone needs help with their projects. This is another way to effectively grow your network. This extra bit of effort can go a long way in showcasing your skills and attitude in a professional environment.

Student Spotlight- Morgan McDevitt, Liberty Mutual Insurance

McDevitt_MorganMorgan McDevitt is a Business Management and Entrepreneurship senior who interned with Liberty Mutual Insurance this summer.

Tell us a little bit about how you landed the internship:

I landed the sales internship at Liberty Mutual at the Eller Career Showcase. Erica Alitiem recommended their internship program so I introduced myself to the recruiter and went through the interview process. I made sure that I did research on the company and was familiar with their program.

What was a typical day at your internship like?

A typical day at my internship was making connections with current and potential customers to ensure we were meeting their unique needs for insurance coverage. I made calls and worked on quotes for home and auto insurance. I also went to on-site events and did presentations to educate different groups about insurance and Liberty.

What was your favorite part of the internship?

My favorite part of my internship was going to headquarters in Boston for Senior Forum. I competed in a sales competition and ended up winning. It was a great experience, and I loved seeing Boston as well.



Student Spotlight- Nadine Merheb, BlackRock

Nadine Merheb is an accounting and business economics major graduating in December who had an internship with BlackRock in New York City this summer.
Nadine Merheb
What was a typical day at your internship like?

Everyday was different. While we may have had reoccurring meetings, I worked on at least five projects throughout the summer, and everyday changed as projects progressed. One day could be back-to-back team meetings while another was more independent work at my desk. As part of the Corporate Development team, I shadowed the progression of a live deal and learned how to create, interpret, and present DCF models. On the Corporate Strategy team, I helped develop new-hire database training manuals and did research for upcoming strategy initiatives.

On top of all the day-to-day team work, the company held many events for all the interns. For example, each week I attended at least one presentation from a senior member of the firm. We were exposed to events held by the company’s diversity networks, participated in a community service initiative, and competed in a portfolio case competition.

What advice do you have for other interns?

Be curious. Ask many questions and make sure you understand what you’re tasked with. It’s important to know how someone wants you to do something, but it’s also necessary to know why you’re doing it. What’s the bigger picture? This is a huge factor to your success because you are able to contribute to something that will last beyond your internship.

Also, give 100% to every project and task you work on. The people around you notice everything, and they appreciate working with those who have a great work ethic.

How did Eller prepare you for your internship?

The three areas that Eller prepared me for the most were teamwork, presentations, and time management. Not only was I part of a team for our portfolio case competition, but I was in several groups for projects throughout the summer. On one project, I had the opportunity to collaborate with intern in the London office.

One of the most important facets of my work was presentations, both formal and informal. I felt that Eller put me at an advantage in understanding how to construct PowerPoint decks, present in front of people, and anticipate questions. Lastly, with the amount of projects and small tasks I had over the course of my internship, time management was key to helping me get my work done quickly and efficiently. With all the group work in Eller classes and the encouraged club involvement outside of classes, I have definitely learned how to prioritize my time.

Student Spotlight- Romina Ceceña, Teach for America

Romina Ceceña is a marketing major and global business minor graduating this December who interned for Teach For America in Phoenix this summer.

Romina Cecena

What was a typical day at your internship like?

That’s what I loved most about it. Every single day was very different from one another. I was part of the team that was in charge of how the whole event ran from beginning to end, so every day would range from doing something extremely vital, to doing little, unimportant tasks. Overall, my typical day started mostly when the teachers got back from their school site. Troubles were communicated to me, and I had to resolve them right away. Since I was in the Communication Department, I spent a couple hours a day working on TFA’s weekly newsletter, IGNITE, as well as social media and other communications.

What was your favorite part of the internship?

My favorite part about being an Operations Coordinator for Teach For America has been being able to see how, in such short time period, a space was built. We welcomed over 500 teachers-to-be as they become prepared to make a difference. I was amazed on how organized all the logistics were and felt well prepare at the end of the training. The operations team was from all over the nation, with a wide variety of diversity and skills, making it a great team to work with. I truly believe in TFA’s mission, and you can see that in each person that is involved with the mission. I enjoyed working for a company that truly cares about a critical issue and works towards the solution every minute of it.

What are some things you learned?

I learned that Teach For America is a corporation that not only focuses on its employee’s professional development, but also personal development. During the first day of training, they asked us to write down our goals for the summer – both professional and personal. Each week, we would have a one-on-one with our manager, where we received feedback on how we were doing, where we can improve on, and were specifically checked on if we were also working on our personal goals. They are also very greatly focused on promoting diversity everywhere, which you don’t see often inside companies. They had special meetings called “Infinity Groups” that were created to provide an open space for each diversity group to talk about current topics and issues and have a intellectual discussion about it. Overall, this summer was an amazing, unique experience that I wish to recommend to everyone.

Las Vegas Outreach Trip

Last semester the PDC Career Coaches visited major US cities on outreach trips to connect with alumni and build relationship for future opportunities for students. This is the fourth blog in the series. (Previous posts: St. Louis; MinneapolisDenver)

Companies Visited: Zappos, MGM, Interop

Along with two company visits, I attended the Interop Convention, the leading independent technology conference and expo designed to inspire, inform, and connect the world’s IT community on April 29-May 1st, 2015, held in Las Vegas, NV.


Zappos’ primary selling base is shoes, which accounts for about 80% of its business. There are currently about 50,000 varieties of shoes sold in the Zappos.

In 2007, Zappos expanded their inventory to include clothing, handbags, eyewear, watches, and kids’ merchandise, which currently account for 20% of annual revenues. Zappos expects that clothing and accessories will bring in an additional $1 billion worth of revenue by 2015, as the clothing market is four times the size of the footwear market.

I met with the 2 University recruiters at their headquarters which is downtown Las Vegas.

Zappos renovated the previous City Hall. Currently the University of Arizona career services and Computer Science have a partnership with these university recruiters. The recruiters attended the hackathon challenge at University of Arizona and hope to participate in activities such as those in the future. That said, Zappos’s company policy is that the recruiters do not go visit or attend career fairs at universities. They post jobs on company website and university website and then applicants are given a “challenge” example:

What is the best mistake that you have made in your college career?

If someone was to write your biography, what would they title it and why?

The results of this challenge involves creating a video response. Typically 28-32% of original applicants complete, although all are given the chance to respond. At that point the university recruiting team reviews ALL videos and funnels to appropriate department. Zappos is not concern as to what major or GPA the student was or had. That is not important to them. Finalists are then offered a trip to Las Vegas where they spend the weekend and learn about the unique culture and of Zappos to determine if it is a fit for them. After the weekend of activities and learning about Zappos, offers are presented to those that are selected.

Zappos is undergoing a transition to Holocracy style management which evolves around self-management and governance. Those employees that did not wish to participate were given the choice to adapt or have a buy-out based on number of years with the company.

I toured facility and my impression was that it was very relaxed and upbeat. There was food/drink available. There were lots of games and a very young and lively culture.

Zappos does not hire sophomores or international students.

Zappos core values are as follows:

As we grow as a company, it has become more and more important to explicitly define the core values from which we develop our culture, our brand, and our business strategies. These are the ten core values that we live by:

Deliver WOW Through Service

Embrace and Drive Change

Create Fun and A Little Weirdness

Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded

Pursue Growth and Learning

Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication

Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

Do More With Less

Be Passionate and Determined

Be Humble

MGM ITMy second stop was the MGM IT Corporate headquarters where I met with Montreal Green (Management Associate-Information Security) and Anne Hanson (Executive Director Planning & Strategy – Information Technology) at MGM Resorts International.

MGM Resorts International is a hospitality Company. The Company’s primary business is the ownership and operation of casino resorts, which includes offering gaming, hotel, convention, dining, entertainment, retail and other resort amenities. The Company operates through two segments, namely wholly owned domestic resorts and MGM China. The Company operates 15 wholly owned resorts in the United States. MGM China’s operations consist of the MGM Macau resort and casino (MGM Macau). The Company’s casino resorts offer gaming, hotel, convention, dining, entertainment, retail and other resort amenities. All of its casino resorts operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year, with the exception of Grand Victoria which operates 22 hours a day, every day of the year. At its wholly owned domestic resorts, the Company’s primary casino and hotel operations are owned and managed by the Company.

I toured the IT facility. The building is about 15 minutes off the strip. It is a relatively new building. The culture is very traditional and corporate. The environment is very sterile, quiet and serious. The main control center room, where all transactions from every casino are monitored, has massive screens that identify all transactions guests make during their stay. We discussed disaster recovery, risk, security and the critical nature of their business and what any outage might cost them. They don’t have the control they would like for hiring university candidates although they do. All hiring must be approved through corporate. They have development program for internships and we do have a University of Arizona students who are participating this summer. They have later offer timeframe than most.

A student must be 21 to work for MGM and therefore they do not hire sophomores or international students.

InteropThe INTEROP Convention which was held at the Mandalay Bay Resort was lively and active. I attended lectures and toured all the exhibition center. Below is the summary of the lectures attended:

Women in Technology Panel Discussion

To Lean In or not to Lean In, that is the question. Or is it? How different are IT career paths and opportunities for men and women in 2015? Join your peers for an open forum discussing how to advance in an IT organization, keep your skills sharp, build fruitful relationships with colleagues, learn effective dispute resolution techniques, and build a mentoring network. Bring your questions, war stories and great ideas.

During this program, Interop and NPower have teamed up to host 20 special young women from Las Vegas East Tech High School. Immediately following the luncheon, our panelists will meet with the students for a Q&A and unique mentoring session.

Harper Reed, CEO, Modest Inc.

Harper Reed is a US-based technology engineer, innovator and entrepreneur. He has been called a “tech pioneer”, a “digital wizard” and “hard to miss in a room”. He is fascinated by how technology continues to shape, transform and empower human behavior. He is currently the CEO of a funded mobile commerce company in Chicago called Modest, Inc. In 2012, Harper was responsible for delivering Barack Obama’s online campaign and get-out-the-vote program. As Chief Technology Officer at Obama’s campaign HQ in Chicago, Harper was the man who was responsible for engineering perhaps the most sophisticated political campaign of all time. From 2005 to 2009, Harper was the CTO of Chicago-based clothing company Threadless, one of the first successful crowdsourcing companies, and helped increase revenue tenfold during that period. From 2009 to 2012 he consulted for companies like Rackspace, an innovative cloud-based website host, and Sandbox Industries, a forward-thinking venture capital company which funds hundreds of tech projects in their early stages and then launches the best few. Harper has also developed a number of community-based apps in Chicago. Find Harper on Twitter: @harper

Brian Shield, Vice President-Information Technology, Boston Red Sox What Does it Take to Be a Championship Caliber Player in IT?

The most successful professional sports teams have developed a rigorous and time-tested process of identifying, evaluating, recruiting, cultivating and retaining talent. Prospective and current players are assessed both physically and mentally before they are offered incentive laden agreements that call for continuous improvement and attainment of key milestones.

In business and within IT organizations there are no combines or the level of scrutiny that you would find in professional sports, but what lessons can be learned and applied to IT professionals? What does it take for a player or an IT professional to advance in their career, overcome career limiting obstacles, differentiate themselves from their teammates and hit it big? For those that are managers of your teams, what would your line-up look like if you managed your talent like a championship-caliber professional sports team? How do you cultivate your talent or encourage continuous improvement in yourself and your “players?” What does your farm system look like? What is the role of free agents (i.e. IT consultants) in your line-up? With the war for IT talent only going to become more difficult in the future for companies, how can you find, retain and become an all-star caliber IT player?

SDN First Steps

While SDN promises to transform the network through increased automation, operational flexibility, and new applications, the transformation won’t take place all at once. The most likely step is to start with one or two use cases built around an SDN island (whether logically segmented or designed as a standalone system) that will reside within the traditional enterprise data center. This approach minimizes capital investment, lets IT get comfortable with new processes and tools, and serves as a beachhead from which to expand further into the enterprise. Our keynote panel assembles SDN experts who will identity likely use cases for initial deployments. We’ll also discuss the skill sets organizations should prioritize as they move forward with SDN projects, and share advice on how to manage the disruption – and exploit the opportunities – SDN brings to traditional operations and engineering disciplines.

The conference had several hundred exhibitors. I networked specifically with the following:

Ciena                                                    Lucas Films

Ping Identity                                         Great Identity

Schneider Electric                                  Great Bay Software

Citrix                                                    Sohpos


Student Spotlight- Tyler Worden, Citigroup

Tyler Worden is a finance and business economics senior who interned with Citigroup in New York City this summer. Tyler Worden 

Tell us a little bit about how you landed the internship:

Landing the internship was quite a difficult process, as 2% of students that apply for Wall Street internships actually receive offers. Recruiting at Wall Street firms is a bit atypical in that they rarely look at students from “non-target” schools. In order to overcome this, I worked tirelessly with Jeff Welter and the Professional Development Center to get in contact with alumni. After reaching out to various alumni, I would network constantly in hopes of having my resume pushed off to HR. I received a first-round screening interview in November and was then flown to New York City to interview in early February. At this “superday” interview, I had 5 separate 30-minute interviews with Citi employees and then was offered the position the following day.

What was a typical day at your internship like?

Every day, I would get in around 6am to start printing out the overnight reports for the sales team and the traders. After that, I would generally sit in on our “morning call”, a conference call with our international and regional teams where we would review the material from the day prior. From then on, I could be doing many different things. Most often, I would shadow traders and learn about the day-to-day aspects of their job. Other times, I could be working on projects, stock pitches, research reports, client meetings, etc. Occasionally, I would join in on roadshow presentations, where companies going through an equity or debt issuance would present their company to our team. This would go on until about 8pm, when I would go home and get prepared for the next day.

What was your favorite part of the internship?

My favorite part of the internship was receiving a full-time offer to return in June after graduation. Being able to come back to senior year with a job offer in hand was truly an unbelievable experience and made my summer that much better.

Alumni Spotlight – Kelly McShane, Vanguard

Kelly McShaneWhen did you graduate from UA Eller?  What was your major?

I graduated from the University of Arizona Eller College of Management in May 2013, and I majored in Business Economics.

Why did you choose to work for Vanguard?

Throughout my job search during my senior year of college, I was looking for a reputable company with strong ethics, a mission that I believe in, and is well known in the industry. I was fortunate to discover Vanguard, a company that met all three criteria. Vanguard is known for doing the right thing, has a core mission of taking a stand for all investors, and is a well-known industry leader in a variety of things, including investments. It was a perfect fit! 

Brief description of job/responsibilities and your title

I currently work as an investment analyst in the Vanguard Investment Strategy Group. The Investment Strategy Group (ISG) is a component of Vanguard’s Investment Management Group (IMG) responsible for answering the question, “What does Vanguard think?” about a broad range of topics. These topics include Vanguard’s view on global markets and the economy, retirement savings and solutions, and portfolio construction and asset allocation, to name a few. The outputs from ISG can take many different shapes, however I am currently writing several white-papers, as well as conducting research surrounding international retirement issues and portfolio construction for large institutional clients. Overall, I enjoy the work because it is challenging and dynamic and allows me to learn something new every day.

What do you enjoy most about working at Vanguard?

I truly enjoy the culture of Vanguard and the people who I work with. It is a great feeling to work for a company that is known for doing the right thing and is trusted throughout the industry as a leader.  

What is your fondest UA memory?

I have many fond memories from my time at the UA. However, some of my favorites include Saturday football games, the Wildcats making it to the Elite Eight in 2011 (Bear Down!), and the 2013 graduation ceremony. 

Can students connect with you on LinkedIn?  If so, what’s your URL?



Student Spotlight- Burton Bennett, Marriott International

Burton Bennett is a finance senior who interned at Marriott International in Tucson this summer.

Burton BennettTell us a little bit about how you landed the internship:

It was in Spring 2015 when I met Erica Alitiem, an Eller PDC Coach, on the 2015 Seattle/Portland Study Tour. I stayed in contact with her and gained insight of all the potential internships I would be able to perform over the summer while still taking courses. Erica connected me with the Director of Finance/Accounting from the JW Marriott at Starr Pass, where I was able to set up an interview and land the internship position.

What are some things you learned?

In the summer of 2015, I was an intern at JW Marriott and performed similar duties to that of a general accountant. This included confidential account handling, guest folio processing, and compiling past/present data for future business forecast reports. I gained experience auditing and reviewing financial statements for compliance of all resort outlets, as well as aiding in the coordination of group billing, executive checks, and accounting journal entries.

Towards the end of my internship, I was asked to be interim General Cashier for over two weeks while the individual who held the position was on vacation. I agreed to the offer and was given the responsibility of managing a $100,000 account. The position required extreme detail and organization, while following procedures set in place by the Corporate Marriott accounting division. It also required a background check, as well as formal key access to the vault and banking office. In a very short amount of time I had to learn the best practices of managing and being accountable for a large sum of cash for change distribution to nine resort outlets. Tasks included retrieval/deposit of profits, foreign currency updates, bank management/accountability, and resort retail expense research.

What advice do you have for other interns?

The Eller College is definitely setting us up for success. It has prepared me to expected the STAR questions and how to articulate my thoughts and ideas when asked in an interview. The largest piece of advice I could share with other interns are two things: (1) Listen and be proactive about learning your trade. It would be best to carry a small notebook with you at all times (2) Excel is key to any business financial processing. Learn to love it. I truly enjoyed my internship with Marriott and learned so much through experience, and I appreciate everyone who helped me get there.


Student Spotlight- Scott Rossman Williams Jr., Grant Thornton LLP

Scott Rossman Williams Jr. is an accounting and french major graduating in May who interned with Grant Thornton LLP in Phoenix this summer. 

Check out a video he and other interns created about the experience:

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 11.02.50 AMTell us a little bit about how you landed the internship:

Originally, I had been planning to interview for internships during my senior year so that I could gain professional experience with an accounting firm immediately before beginning the Master of Accounting. I was surprised to find out, though, that having a double major was enough to satisfy the 150 college credits required for CPA certification. That meant that, so long as I took an extra upper division accounting class or three, I would not have to obtain a Master’s degree before working full time as an accountant. This fast tracked my graduation path, so I quickly stepped up my networking game, interviewed with several international accounting firms, and then found myself happily accepting an offer to be an Audit Intern for GT’s Phoenix office during the Summer of 2015.

What was your favorite part of the internship?

One of GT Phoenix’s Audit clients is PADLP, a limited partnership that contracts the use of the City of Phoenix’s downtown arena—formerly known as U.S. Airways Center, but now known as Talking Stick Resort Arena. Working at the arena meant that I had the opportunity to interact directly with the Controller and Executive VP of Finance for the Suns/Mercury, which was awesome from the perspective of both an aspiring accounting professional and an avid sports fan. Having that inside look at how the ownership and business models of professional sports teams and entertainment venues are arranged was really enjoyable, and made it that much easier to get excited about something as stereotypically boring as accounting. Plus, to top things off, the Controller invited another intern and I to play basketball on the practice court after work one day. I genuinely appreciated the opportunity to be involved with an industry that I never would have imagined that I’d step into as an auditor, and it made the internship that much better.

What advice do you have for other interns?

Have confidence in yourself, think critically, and execute every task to the best of your ability. Also, put yourself out there (tactfully) as someone who is willing and able to get the job done. You never know what sort of opportunities might come your way. Just by taking the time to go onto my company profile and update some of my skillsets, I had a woman from the San Francisco office reach out to me for help in the translation and assessment of financial statements and contracts for a med-tech company–all written in French! Had I not taken the time to completely update my employee profile (an optional task), I might not have listed my French fluency, and I would not have had such excellent exposure to international business transactions. And, even if understanding another language isn’t your forte, seeking out opportunities within your own office can be beneficial to your professional growth, too. Even though my internship was technically under GT’s Audit service line, I reached out to the Tax Partner in our office and received an international tax assignment that focused on the consolidation of mining operations in Namibia and Botswana under equity holdings in Canada and Arizona. I found it to be extremely valuable experience, and would certainly recommend that other students actively seek opportunities to gain similar professional diversity out of their internships. You won’t know what your options are until you’ve asked!