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How To Excel At Showing Your Skills

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If you’re an undergraduate student, you’ve probably thought once or twice about what you’ll do when you’re ready to apply for internships. Haven’t gotten there yet? Maybe you’re considering a career in marketing? Follow along on this series to read more experiences by students who have completed their internships. Learn about the student of the week: Shyama Sukharamwala, a student from Waco, who worked her way up to finding her desired career path and gaining the proper experience for her field.

Meet Shyama Sukharamwala. A marketing major at the Naveen Jindal School of Management, Shyama chose to focus her career on sales.

Originally from India, Shyama grew up in beautiful and sunny Los Angeles. However, six years ago Shyama’s family decided to move to Waco, Texas, to grow their businesses. A senior, Shyama came to UTD last year, after first earning an associate’s degree at a community college.

Q: What made you decide to pursue a career in marketing? What made you think “Oh, I should do marketing!”?

A: I chose marketing because it allows you to use the practical knowledge that you gain from school… books…, but at the same time, you’re also allowed to use your creative and communication skills. I really enjoy talking to different people, meeting new people all the time, and I enjoy the challenges that come with sales. That’s why I chose both of these fields.

Q: How did you decide to pursue this career at the Jindal School of Management? Did you know about UT Dallas beforehand?

A: I actually didn’t! I was talking to a career advisor at my college, and she told me to do some research and narrow down my choices to 10 schools. And I chose UTD partly because it’s closer to home, but also to come to Dallas. I also chose UTD because the Jindal School of Management is one of the best. It’s a nationally ranked school in Texas. There are professors from all over the world. So, I thought it was the best place to go.

Q: What were you doing academically before you came to UT Dallas?

A: I was pursuing an associate’s degree. However, at that time I was not sure what I wanted to get into. So, I decided to take a bunch of different classes: business, business law, a marketing class and surveys of business. This is where I got to see that I was fit for the business world.

Q: Does anyone you know, such as a family member or friend work on the marketing or sales field?

A: My family is in the field, but they have their own business. So they are more independent than I am. But I hope to own my own business some day.

Q: That’s interesting that your family was in business, but now you are working on the more creative side of it.

A: A lot of young students choose a field and then look back and say, “Am I really a good fit for this?” And then you start exploring other options, and it becomes confusing. I have a friend that is pursuing a degree in marketing, but then got approached for a recruiting position at an engineering company. I told her that she should try it! See if she likes it!

The best thing to do if you’re trying to is to join an organization or a program on campus that’s dedicated to helping students find a job. This is what our sales program does, although this is a class, so you wouldn’t have to spend your time outside class in order to participate in activities. It is not the same as the Career Management Center, where you go and attend workshops.

Within the JSOM sales program, there’s an event called Rookie Preview where you meet with multiples recruiters, and basically do your elevator pitch to them. This is where I got my internship.

So, if you are looking for some direction, you should definitely take a class like this.

Q: Tell me about your summer internship.

A: This past summer I worked at Active Network. I felt that this internship was really valuable for me, personally, because I learned how to use Salesforce. It’s really important when you’re in the marketing field. Whatever you pursue, it’s important to be able to manage the relationships with customers, and Salesforce lets you do that. So, I learned how, and I used it on a daily basis.

We were a team of seven interns — all from JSOM —Samy Maanani, Francisco Rodriguez, Manuela Jaramillo, Christian Garcia, Michelle Yang and Naveed Sultan. We trained for about three days, and after, we started working on the computer and began to do research. A lot of the work entailed researching customers and calling them and asking them about additional information on their business. At times, I was able to gain some information, but they were not always willing to help. This taught me how to handle rejection. If you’re someone who is not sure if sales is for you, such as if you are afraid to talk to people you don’t know, you should start with something that involves calling. You’ll talk to a customer over the phone, and throughout each conversation you’ll see if they are interested in you and if you’re able to carry a conversation. At the beginning, we were all a lot more nervous about it, but as time went on, we improved greatly.

Q: What was it like working along side other students?

A: We worked as a team. Some of the interns worked fast and were able to get their work done quickly. Individually, we each had about 400 to 500 accounts to work on. Whenever one of us got done first, we’d help the others. Teamwork came in handy. That’s why it’s important to be able to work with others. If you can’t have a good relationship with those that you work with, then you will not excel at your job like you could. It was a great relationship that we all had.

Q: So you’re saying that the teamwork is directly correlated to the productivity of the group.

A: You have to learn how to be open-minded. You have to be open to hearing others opinions.

Q: Tell me more about Active Network.

A: It’s a software company that just moved here from San Francisco. It’s the headquarters office, so there are many opportunities to meet some really important people.

I was able to bag this internship because the person who interviewed me was also from the sales program here. They’re everywhere! The students who graduate from the program are extremely successful. Some are successful before they even graduate!

Q: How did this internship come together?

A: I learned about this internship from the sales coordinator from the sales program. I had let them know to keep me in mind if any internships were coming up. I was getting different emails from her, and I had not seen a position that would fit my skills and experience at first, but then one day I got an email about two internships. Active Network was looking for someone that had the experience of a usual undergraduate student, while the other was looking for someone with many more than five years of experience.

Q: That’s quite a lot of experience being requested of someone our age.

A: They want you to have experience, but you’re still in college! We don’t have that much experience, and it shouldn’t always be expected of us. That’s a topic that I’ve gotten better with. The great thing about being interviewed was feedback given after my interview. She told us what we could improve on.

Q: What was your goal in the internship?

A: We worked with the faith market, which involved doing research on churches. We were given a long list of churches and some information on their accounts. The best thing about the internship was that we were very independent. We weren’t supervised all day long. This helped us to be self-starters and gain confidence. We would call and follow up about their account information. Then we forwarded that information to their account managers, who would later go on and try to sell them some products. If we didn’t have the right information and background on them, the customer would not trust us as much.

When talking over the phone, it is hard to gain trust. The proper communication is key when maintaining that relationship.

Q: I know you said this internship made you feel much more independent. What are some other things you learned from this internship that you did not originally expect?

A: “I learned about the importance of networking. If you were not able to make a connection with the other interns or the supervisors, you wouldn’t be able to establish a long-term relationship.

Don’t stay in the intern bubble! Talk to others and people of higher authority. Try to shadow someone. They may be busy, but if they like you, they’ll allow you to do it. If you follow up with an authority afterward, they will realize that you went out of your way to stay connected.

Q: What are some of the struggles that you faced during this internship?

A: I had to keep my ears open and stay in relation to the group. Sometimes I would be in my own bubble working on the accounts, and I would miss out on some information regarding training or other matters.

True story — I once got stuck in an elevator because I didn’t know how to work my access card. Know your technology, people.

Q: Do you think that the internship prepared you for what you want to pursue? Or did it make you want to change your mind at all?

A: Doing internships and externships are a great way to see if you’re going to like a career. You’ll be working in that field for a long time, so it’s worth it to try and see if it’s what you want to do. Active Network is a really great place to work with a wonderful environment. The people that I met in the internship that I created good relationships with may be able to get me a job in the future. They also had lots of food…which was exciting.

Q: If you had any advice to offer to students who are now starting or are interested in a career in marketing, what would you tell them?

A: You have to get your foot in the door. Meet people, make connections and learn new things. Gain some hands-on experience if you are able to. Be exposed. Know which field you want to go into. Creative side or more analytic? Comet Careers has the World of Work — WOW — Externship, and they’re great. Look into those events to get started. And take your classes seriously! Be involved. Sell your specific skills when you know them!

Prithvi Persad

Originating from Toronto, Canada, Prithvi's perspectives on student life extends from her new adventures as a Marketing student at the Naveen Jindal School of Management. In her free time, Prithvi takes joy in traveling, expanding her experiences for her culinary blog, and loves teaching her furry friend new tricks. Read more articles

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