When Sandra Plamondon was in high school, she was drawn the the increasingly important area of environmental sustainability. She dreamed of combining business and environmental issues by working for a company like Patagonia. The outdoor gear and clothing company is as an innovator in environmental practices. They have led revolutionary efforts in developing more environmentally friendly water proofing technology and sustainable and ethical supply chain management. Most recently, the company has sued the President Trump administration regarding public land issues.
However, Plamondon, a senior at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, thought it would be a good idea to round out her business chops by first working as a finance intern at Capital One, which she spent ten weeks doing this past summer.
It was clear early on at Michigan Ross that networking was important and Plamondon says that went beyond just landing a coveted internship. “While on the job, I did a lot of networking which really enhanced the experience as I was able to meet new people in different parts of the business and learn more about Capital One,” she recalls.
THE BEGINNINGS OF AN INTERNSHIP
Plamondon says she was first drawn to Capital One because it seemed unusual for a bank to brand themselves as a tech company and having a non-hierarchical structure. When she attended the BBA recruiting kickoff event at her school, Plamondon says that while she didn’t speak with the person present, she took some information and decided to attend their corporate presentation.
Prior to applying to Capital One, Plamondon had chosen to engage in numerous work experiences to broaden her portfolio, including time as a crew member as McDonalds, an accounting intern and human resources intern for OMT-Vehyl in Holland, Michigan, working in food service with the university’s dining services, and even as a marketing and communications intern for a firm in Tokyo, Japan.
After a 45-minute case interview on campus, Plamondon says she was invited to an onsite interview in Richmond, Virginia, where everything was paid for by the firm. There, she took part in three interviews including case and behavioral questions.
Just three days later, she received the internship offer and accepted it.
ONE COVETED INTERNSHIP, TWO FULL-TIME OFFERS
Working at the Capital One headquarters in McLean, Virginia, this past summer, Plamondon says that she was assigned a “buddy” for any day-to-day questions she had to help her get the hang of things. Her days usually began at about 9 a.m., often with an early meeting or coffee chat with other staff members, and regularly ended at 5 p.m. During the “busy season,” more deliverables were expected of her and she says she put in more hours, but the longer hours were not expected or normal at all. Outside of work, Plamondon says the firm also organized a three-day trip to Disney World with all the interns, where they got to build stronger relationships and know one another better.
The experience has already paid off. Plamondon says she has re-interviewed for a business analyst role and has locked in an offer. She has also received another full-time offer for a position with a consulting company, but has yet to decide as both options feel equally enticing.
“The culture and work life balance (at Capital One) is great,” she says. “It truly is a collaborative culture and their work in the tech space that they are doing is exciting.”
ADVISE FOR CURRENT AND FUTURE BIZ MAJORS
While she is not certain where she may be or what she could be doing in five years, the Japanese-language speaker, also the President of the Japan Student Association at her university, says she would like to be working on her masters degree, whether an MBA or in another area. The go-getter added that working abroad or with a startup is a possibility as well.
Having a work resume with nine positions at her age, Plemondon says that if she could start all over, she wishes she hadn’t applied to so many jobs while in her junior year that she wasn’t genuinely interested in. “Applications get competitive, but don’t waste time on jobs that you would never consider accepting,” she advises.
For business students with ambitions like hers, Plamondon says it’s important to practice independence and learn not to depend on others for things to happen.
“Everyone has different interests and their own goals, and it’s easy to either get stuck in the crowd or not take the initiative yourself. So if there is something that you want to do, go out and do it,” she says. “Nobody will start it for you.”
The other skill she says she has developed is the wisdom to know how to make use of the resources people around have for her.
“People have advice and ideas to help you, especially those who are older,” she says. “They’ve made mistakes and if you can learn from them, it saves a lot of time and helps you develop great relationships.”