In this “Internship Experience” blog post series, we will be featuring the profile and thoughts of our students from Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management as they return from summer internships.
Name: Danielle Barenholtz
Graduation Year: May 2020
Hometown: Weston, MA
Intern Company/Title: Wayfair – Business Process Outsourcing Intern in the Global Merchandising Department
Describe your position and some of your daily tasks.
I worked cross-functionally with in-house teams and offshore vendors. My main project was to help onboard the offshore vendors onto Wayfair’s training platform. I would work with in-house teams to come up with training materials for tasks that vendors needed to complete, upload those materials to the platform and launch them to the vendors. Ultimately, this increased the efficiency of onboarding agents when taking on a new task.
How did you land your internship?
I applied to my internship on Handshake, initially for a supply chain position. I then had a phone interview and followed with a video interview, that included a case study project. After my initial two interviews, they suggested that I was more qualified for a merchandising position rather than a supply chain position and wanted me to move forward interviewing for merchandising. I had one more video case study interview after that and then was invited to their headquarters in Boston for Super Day. I received my offer during winter break, right before I left to study abroad.
What did you learn from your internship experience?
I learned a lot at my internship. One of the most important things being how to manage my time in a working environment. Wayfair is a fast-paced, growing company, so everyone is always moving. I learned how to manage my three projects and still make deadlines. I also learned how to communicate clearly and effectively through various mediums. I was in charge of running meetings (which was scary at first) with stakeholders, so I had to learn what information was important to mention and what wasn’t necessary.
Has your experience changed your plans or career choice when you leave college?
The experience that I had at Wayfair has changed my plans for post-graduation. Before starting my internship, I wasn’t sure as to what I wanted to do, what type of company I wanted to work for and what type of work would interest me every day.
After working at Wayfair, I realized what factors are most important to me when searching for a job – a big one being company culture. I truly loved the culture at Wayfair, and I was honestly sad when my internship came to an end. Although I did get an offer to work there post-graduation, I decided to decline it solely due to the location. (I wanted to experience working in NYC, but not live there). I know that the relationships I made this summer will last for a lifetime, and everyone there encouraged me to explore other options. I think Wayfair provided me with the resources and confidence to succeed in various positions post-graduation, and I now have a clear mindset regarding the type of work I want to be doing and the type of environment I want to work in.
How will your internship experience help you after graduation?
After my internship experience, I have a better understanding of what
type of company I want to work for and what kind of work I want to be doing. I learned that I enjoyed working with various departments within the company because you gain a greater understanding of what everyone does. I also enjoyed Wayfair’s culture. I know they pride themselves on it, but after working there I truly understand why.
How has the Whitman School prepared you for your internship?
I think Whitman prepared me in the sense of working on a team and managing my time. I also had to use Excel and Google Sheets a lot —my team was very impressed with how well I already knew how to use some of the functions, which I can credit to Whitman. At the end of my internship, I had to present my three projects to the entire Global BPO team, and everyone was impressed with how confident I was when presenting. I would credit Whitman for helping me in that aspect as well, due to the various presentations I have worked on in the past.
What did you enjoy most about your experience?
I truly enjoyed the people that I worked with and the culture. The internship program had about 300 interns in various departments. The program was very structured, which I enjoyed and was focused on providing interns with professional development opportunities. We had various networking events, assigned coffee chats, philanthropy events and even meetings with the two co-founders. Overall, I made many relationships that I hope will last.
I also really liked the fact that I was treated more like an employee than an intern. I wasn’t given typical intern tasks such as organizing different files, getting coffee, running errands, etc. Everyone treated me like an employee and emphasized that the work I was doing truly made an impact on the company.
Do you have any advice for students who are looking for an internship?
I know that looking for internships is very stressful during the school year, especially because these internships can ultimately help us land jobs post-graduation. Internships provide students with an awesome experience, as they allow students to figure out what they like and what they don’t like without having any long-term commitments. It’s the best time to try something new and explore various companies that you think you may be interested in.
Even if you don’t want to work for a specific company that has reached out to you, take the interview because it’s great practice! Always remember that during an interview, the company wants to know about you just as much as you want to know about them. Before interviewing, I would always come up with three different scenarios that I could apply to potential questions. You want to prove that you deserve to work at the company and that you did your research. Interviewers are impressed if you bring up articles you read about the company or even if you ask them difficult questions. Ultimately, I think that everything works out for the best and it is important to keep your options open and have an open mindset.