Navigating the “New Normal”: Making the Most of an Unusual Summer

In 2020, finding an aspect of life that has not been significantly affected is far more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack — with higher education and summer jobs no exception to this trend. As the pandemic forced countries to shut down, college students flocked home to live out their spring semesters and summers. No stranger to that pattern, I had to find new ways to maximize my productivity over the summer break. In April, I began to look to alternative options to capitalize on my summer. I ended up with three distinct resume-worthy experiences that would allow me to develop my professional skills and interests.

Experiential Based-Learning Through Research

After recognizing this common dilemma, CMU put together a list of summer classes that students could enroll in for free. In order to maximize development, all of these classes were based on professors’ research projects. The class that I enrolled in was with Professors Sunkee Lee [TSB] and Christopher Olivola [TSB], and involved determining correlations between CEO facial characteristics and their M&A attempts. Throughout this experience, I was able to gain more insight into utilizing photo editing software, qualities that positively correlate with CEO success, and developed my own hypotheses in a group for what I believed would lead to positive M&A outcomes. Overall, this experience was a great way to refine my research skills and offered me an interesting project to expand upon in future interviews.

Virtual Financial Modeling Internship

While scouring online job boards, I came upon a virtual financial modeling internship that would be like a training module. Gutenberg Research’s platform aims to bring Wall Street models to the homes of average citizens. Through their intern program, they teach anyone willing to learn these technicals and apply them. Although the internship was unpaid, the skills that I learned were useful in brushing up on my valuation technicals. In order to value Facebook’s stock, all interns developed a DCF model and read through management guidance to make assumptions. Despite this internship being only a few weeks long, it was a valuable experience for me to attest to my finance-expertise in the future.

Covid-19 Innovation Project

In addition to its Experiential Classes, CMU also launched the Covid-19 Innovation Project. Similar to a startup incubator, the 9-week program would allow students to tackle society’s pressing challenges in entrepreneurial ways. After recruiting three of my high school friends (Sohil Shah [Emory ’22], Nicholas Schenk [Rutgers ’22], Lawrence Xing [Cornell ’22]), we decided to tackle the mental health of college students. First, we conducted surveys and identified pain points of quarantined college students to determine how we could help them. After learning more about UI and UX design, we developed a prototype for an app: Psyche (image above). Psyche is a challenges-based app that offers you weekly personalized objectives so that you can explore new interests or hone your skills in your favorite activities. Although we have not yet pursued the app further, I found this experience to be very productive since I learned a completely new aspect of business that I had no prior experience with.

 

Overall, I made the most of my summer from home and definitely magnified my experiences. I hope that in the future I can approach similar challenges with the same level of determination and continue to grow, professionally and personally.

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