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: Mark Weiss
Graduation Year: May 2021
Major(s): Accounting / Finance
Hometown: Bethel, Connecticut
Intern Company/Title: PepsiCo– Accounting Control Intern
Describe your position and some of your daily tasks?
I was one of three accounting interns at PepsiCo’s global headquarters in Purchase, New York. We were divided into three different areas of control. These three areas were external reporting, internal reporting and technical accounting. I was placed under the internal reporting division where my daily tasks were executing testing plans of cyclical application controls related to periodic, quarterly and annual schedules. On top of that, I also spent a large amount of time performing an additional review of government reporting forms. I spent the majority of my last month at PepsiCo on a peer-company benchmarking analysis project, where I eventually presented my findings and recommendations to the corporate controller for future 10-Ks and 10-Qs.
How did you land your internship?
I landed this internship by attending the fall Whitman Career Fair in 2018. When I saw the PepsiCo table I remembered that I already knew two people who had accounting internships there. Maeve Maloney ‘19 and Thomas Knortz ’19 interned at White Plains, and told me stories about how great the company culture was there and how much they took away from the internship. I decided to talk to the wonderful people at the career fair table and apply for an internship. A few weeks later I was informed that I received a video interview opportunity with two employees. I completed the interview and heard back with an offer soon after.
What did you learn from your internship experience?
I genuinely couldn’t have asked for a better first internship experience. I learned how to perform benchmarking analyses, communicate professionally via email or telephone with coworkers, and how to prioritize my work to get everything completed. I learned that at some point you may have slow periods with little work, and other times you could have 3-4 projects dropped on you due within the next couple of weeks. It’s all about time management!
Another thing I learned was that sitting at a desk for 8-9 hours a day is a lot different than school. In school or at home you never have such a large chunk of time where you are consistently doing work every day. I learned to appreciate the time I had every day to get work done and learn how to manage a long workday.
Has your experience changed your plans or career choice when you leave college?
My experience has not changed my plans or career choice. My overall plan is to work at a Big 4 accounting firm for a few years and see where my career path takes me. With that in mind, next summer I will be interning at EY and seeing where my future in public accounting takes me.
How will your internship experience help you after graduation?
This internship experience helped me immensely. Next summer and moving forward in my career, I will be interning/working as an auditor. Auditing is vastly different than controlling, which is what I did during my PepsiCo internship. Having this internship experience showed me that I can try out different positions to see what I like the best.
Another way this internship experience has helped me is by gaining a ton of connections that I can use as mentors in the future. Everyone in the control department successfully took the same path that I will be taking in the coming years, so there is nobody better to ask for advice. I also made great friends with other interns. Being in such a small group, the three of us became very close and I know they are people I can rely on in the future as we all go down relatively the same path.
How has the Whitman School prepared you for your internship?
Whitman prepared me for my internship by teaching me with the basic accounting principles. It was nice to learn that PepsiCo didn’t expect accounting interns to know everything and were every open to teaching us when we needed to understand. Our supervisors understood that we’ve had a limited number of classes, so most of it was learn on the go.
Knowing the flow of a balance sheet or income statement was important in my role with the tasks I had to perform, and my professors prepared me for that task. At times I did feel a bit behind in my role as the other two interns were rising seniors and I was only a rising junior, but that’s where I was able to use my support system to catch up and grow professionally.
What did you enjoy most about your experience?
The thing I enjoyed the most from my experience was the involvement interns were able to have. I mean, both employees and interns received the same company-wide information and we were allowed to attend many panels throughout the summer. I was able to hear from the Chief of Human Resources, the CEOs of all the different divisions within PepsiCo and even the CEO Ramon Laguarta himself.
Something small that stuck out to me was how PepsiCo emphasized the environment and how I would frequently see Mr. Laguarta eating lunch with the rest of the employees. At such a big company, that’s something you never really expect to see. PepsiCo made me feel at home with the other employees and I never once felt out of place.
Do you have any advice to students who are looking for an internship?
My advice to students looking for internships is to network as much as you can and apply to everything that suits you. During my first year at Whitman, I was hesitant about going to the career fair because I wouldn’t receive an offer as a first-year student. I give a lot of credit to my dad who told me to just go regardless and practice my networking skills because I will need it later in life. My dad was right as I felt very comfortable walking around to all of the tables my sophomore year speaking to professionals. I also ended up joining the professional business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi and the accounting honors society Beta Alpha Psi, which thoroughly helped me gain more connections to lean on moving forward in my career.
I do admit though, that I got lucky with my internship. I applied to PepsiCo not expecting to have a chance to land the position, or anywhere else for that matter, at this point of my academic journey. I’ve learned that as long as you are within the desired age range, you always have a chance.
Lastly, I want to offer the advice of doing your research and preparing a lot before interviews. This doesn’t only mean knowing why you want to work there. You should also know the company’s vision and mission statements, what they do for community service, an understanding of the morals of the company and what they stand for. Answering basic interview questions becomes so much easier when you know your values and the company’s values align with yours.