Each summer, students from the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics gain valuable professional-level exposure through internships. This year, young scholars were able to traverse the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic by pursuing an array of internships, externships and other professional development opportunities. Each profile of this series will detail a Lerner student’s experiences working on business-oriented projects.
Lerner: How did you find out about this internship? Why did you choose it?
Zhang: I saw this job posting online on the Amazon website and decided to apply on a whim. The job description fit everything that I wanted in an internship (data analysis, visualization, etc) and I felt like I could really grow my technical skills within such an innovative company.
Lerner: Did the coronavirus impact your internship search and working experience? If so, how?
Zhang: Because of the pandemic, I was pretty flexible during my application process in terms of company location since I was pretty sure it would be virtual. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Amazon offered a hybrid option where I was able to fly out to Seattle, Washington and complete most of my internship in person. I had the amazing and extremely lucky opportunity to meet most of my team outside of just virtual calls! There were also many other interns that chose the hybrid option, so we were able to safely meet up and share all our diverse internship experiences with each other.
Lerner: What did you learn from this internship that you think you would not have learned elsewhere?
Zhang: Because of Amazon’s role as a large tech and consumer company, I got the chance to interact closely with both business development and sales teams as well as solution architects and software engineers during my internship. It was super interesting to see how business professionals were able to collaborate with technical analysts to launch a product despite their different areas of expertise. There were many times as a business analyst that I served as a liaison between the two groups. Through this experience, I learned how to communicate technical components, such as the coding behind a dashboard to business individuals while also bringing many important marketing and finance concepts to the technical teams. It was an extremely unique experience and I am grateful that I was able to gain exposure to both sides of the company.
Lerner: What is the most exciting task or project that you have done or are currently doing in your role?
Zhang: One exciting project that I got to work on during my internship was conducting user acceptance tests on a company-wide metrics dashboard. This dashboard was considered my business’ one-stop-shop tool for all their key performance metrics and goals, but no one had done a deep dive into the dashboard’s user experience and functionality. I conducted many user interviews to gain qualitative feedback from partner development managers and solution architects while also supplementing my data with quantitative results from a company-wide survey. I was able to build my own dashboard visualizing the results from my research and identified key areas of improvement for the business. I consolidated all my recommendations in a document that was presented to leadership, and they have been using my research to develop a roadmap for future iterations of the new dashboard.
Lerner: What is an example of a time where you were able to apply what you’ve learned at Lerner to your role?
Zhang: Lerner taught me the importance of networking, a skill that I put to good use during my time at Amazon. I reached out to many different kinds of individuals during the internship and gained important insights into the different roles within the company. It was awesome getting the chance to share my internship projects with business professionals and technical experts, and they all provided diverse perspectives and advice towards my future goals.
Lerner: How do you think this internship will aid you with your professional goals?
Zhang: I think this internship has really taught me to set my goals high, especially when it comes to learning new skills and solutions. I would have never expected to work on so many projects at Amazon, and there were definitely times when I was unsure if I would have the technical capabilities or business expertise to complete my tasks. But with the support of my team and my own inner drive to succeed, I saw a huge growth in my confidence and leadership. I have walked away with so many important lessons and I am eager to approach new opportunities with an open and curious mindset.
Lerner: What are your plans or next steps in your career once your internship is over?
Zhang: After my internship is over, I’ll be finishing up my last year at college before entering the workforce full time. I’m excited to get back on campus to take new classes and get involved in my clubs/extracurriculars! As for my post-college plans, I really enjoyed my experience this summer integrating my coding and technical skills into a business setting, so I’m hoping to find a full-time role that utilizes those data analytics skills.