Securing Your First Business Internship as a Husky

By Matt Chard, third-year management information systems student

The first moment I stepped onto Michigan Tech’s campus, I became overwhelmed with emotion. It was an exciting time—balancing classes, joining student organizations, and making new friends—all while looking to secure my first summer internship. With so much going on, you may wonder where to begin to find that first internship. Let me share my story and help answer some of your questions.
Photo of MTU student Matt ChardMy first introduction to Michigan Tech Career Services was only weeks into my first semester. I walked out of class to find the center of campus filled with the newest vehicles from Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Ford Motor Company. As a motor enthusiast, I was interested in learning more, so I took the initiative to talk to the company representatives. I had a casual conversation about the new vehicle features and I ended up learning about career opportunities, which got me fired up to apply what I was learning in class to industry. I was now determined to get an internship! 

As the semester continued and the Fall Career Fair approached, I attended several résumé help sessions, where company representatives spent time providing feedback to strengthen my résumé and help me create an effective elevator pitch.

I felt ready for my very first Career Fair. Dressed head to toe in professional apparel, improved résumé in hand, ready to deliver my pitch. After more than four hours, I talked to about 20 companies. Feeling confident, I was getting ready to leave when I saw that the Harley-Davidson booth line had dwindled down to just a few folks. I saw on their Handshake page that they were only recruiting engineers. Still, my passion for riding motorcycles brought me to the booth. The conversation started with a brief introduction, quickly moving the topic to the motorcycle on display. I gradually shifted the conversation to how business students provide value even in an engineering workspace. I handed the representative my résumé before departing.

That evening, I received a few phone calls to set up interview times for the next day. Fortunately, I attended a Career Services’ mock interview practice session and was prepared. After the interview, I felt that I nailed it, but what was next? After sending follow-up emails thanking the representatives and reiterating my excitement for the positions, I received an offer letter for a summer internship with Amway and a four-month co-op with Harley-Davidson during the fall semester. All of my hard work and preparation paid off! I reached my goal of securing my first internship.

I found that the best strategy was to utilize Career Services, emphasize your passion regardless of its relevance to the job, and, most importantly, work on interpersonal communication and the ability to engage in small talk to develop relationships. 

In addition to campus-wide programs like Career Servies, to help facilitate the process of getting prepared for your first internship, the Michigan Tech College of Business has a program called Professional Blueprint. It is a series of steps and resources to guide you toward reaching your dream career. Plus, as you progress through the Blueprint, you earn College of Business swag and get an honors cord to wear at commencement!

I am glad I took advantage of every opportunity available to me. Michigan Tech prepares you not only in the classroom but through a variety of career experiences. There is no doubt you will be ready to create the future after leaving Michigan Tech!


My First Year at MTU: Marco Marquez

MTU student Marco Marquez stands at a podium
Having grown up in Detroit, Michigan, Marco Marquez felt ready for the natural, rugged beauty of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The unique location, along with Michigan Tech’s STEM focus, led him to enroll in engineering management.

Since starting at Michigan Tech in the fall of 2019, Marco has adjusted and loves his second home. At first, he wasn’t sure what to expect and found it difficult to leave behind access to shopping, family, and friends. However, he says that meeting new friends and exploring the Upper Peninsula made the transition to college easier than expected. 

Marco has enjoyed getting to know students from other cultures and connecting through language. As a bilingual student, Marco finds language to be a starting point in learning about other people. Of his new connections, meeting a fellow Husky from Spain in Intro to Finance has been one of the most rewarding. He finds that collaborating on homework in Spanish to be a helpful way to continue using his second language.

Joining student organizations has also helped Marco gain new perspectives. One impactful experience was visiting Chicago with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers to speak with pre-college students in primarily Hispanic schools. The group encouraged students to think about their lives after high school and the opportunities that are available to them in STEM and college. Marco also traveled to Minneapolis with the Accounting Club, which prompted his decision to switch majors to accounting and finance. He is also a member of the Society of African-American Men, which participates in community service activities on campus. 

In his first year at Michigan Tech, Marco’s vision for his future has evolved. Initially, his goal was to get a degree and a well-paying job to help support his family. Since then, he has learned to aim even higher. Marco now aspires to create his own company in the automotive industry, where he will work to make travel easier, faster, and more affordable. He would also love to use his passion for language to connect with others while undertaking this journey.

Marco credits his growth to the encouraging culture at MTU, and wants to let other students know that stepping outside their comfort zone just might change their perspective for life. 


My Nontraditional Internship

By Jacob Mihelich

Last summer I chose a nontraditional path for an accounting major and interned as a personal automobile underwriter at Auto-Owners Insurance in Lansing, Michigan. This experience was both challenging and eye-opening for me; not only did underwriting expose me to a new industry, but it also taught me the value of soft skills. Student stands in from of Auto-Owners InsuranceI approached Auto-Owners Insurance at the Fall Career Fair last year hoping to land an internship in their accounting department. After talking with the recruiter about open opportunities and my mom’s position as an underwriter at another company, she suggested that I apply for the underwriting internship. Insurance has always been interesting to me, so I gave it a shot.

Although I was hired as a temporary employee for the summer, I was treated as a new hire, receiving a full-time employee’s training and the freedom to make underwriting decisions. I had a wonderful trainer and training group that I spent five weeks with. The six of us took a light-hearted approach to learn the material, but there was certainly a lot to understand. Underwriting is a detailed process that takes many factors into account to ensure that each insurance policy is properly written to ensure adequate risk, rating, and eligibility. Learning this skill was very involved, but Betsy was sure to keep things interesting with conversation and even bubbles in our training area for when we needed a break.

Once I completed the training, I moved down to the underwriting floor, where I would spend the rest of my summer. I was paired with a rotating mentor who sat with me for an hour each day for a month to review my work before I released it. Throughout this time, I was slowly allowed to release my work for processing without it being reviewed. 

Oftentimes, the agents I worked with had been doing their jobs for longer than I have been alive, but I had the final call on if a policy was written correctly. Since I was essentially auditing the agent’s work, it was inevitable that I would need to make a correction from time to time or ask for additional information. When I made a decision to adjust policy or ask for more information, I needed to ensure it was necessary, as it affected both the agent and insured. I did my research and asked for help from experienced underwriters when I was in doubt. Once my decision was made, finding the best way to explain my position then became the challenging part, as I had to strive to be confident in my decision while also remaining open to the agent’s viewpoint and the circumstances. Although I did my homework, I too made mistakes. I quickly admitted my error, apologized sincerely, and corrected the issue. I realized that everyone is bound to make mistakes, so it’s about how we rebound that matters.

My teammates were always willing to help and support me. I also got to know the other underwriting interns in my building. We’d take short breaks to have breakfast pizza to celebrate the team or for a birthday card to get passed around for everyone to sign. We also hosted larger celebrations throughout the summer like a salsa competition and a barbecue. When I reflect on my experience, learning the type of people I want to work with was one of the most important parts of my internship experience. When you get to work with friendly people, everything else is better, too.  Group of people stand in Auto-Owners Insurance office buildingI couldn’t have asked for a better intern experience than the one I received at Auto-Owners. I learned so much about how auto insurance works—a useful skill for anyone. I also improved my soft skills and confidence. For anyone who is considering an internship that doesn’t quite fit their path, I say, go for it!

An internship is a great way to try something new. Why spend the rest of your life wondering what may have been? 


MTU APMP Students Take Third in Portfolio Competition

Students in the Michigan Tech College of Business Applied Portfolio Management Program (APMP) placed third in this year’s Quinnipiac University Global Portfolio Competition, earning an annual return of more than 20 percent. When adjusted for the given amount of risk pursued by the team and compared to other universities, the Husky team had a strong standing.

The MTU undergraduate investment experience, which is open to students of all majors, has earned first in this global competition seven times in the past. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, several students planned to attend the New York City-based competition and conference in person.

APMP students manage $1.8 million dollars of real money in the U.S. stock market, where they present to clients and make their own investment decisions.


MTU College of Business Wraps Virtual Stock Competition for At-Home High Schoolers

The Husky Investment Tournament hosted this spring by the College of Business (COB) at Michigan Technological University drew more than 300 high school business students across the region to compete for a cash prize and scholarships toward a Michigan Tech education. 

The competition utilized a virtual stock-trading tool and College faculty-led video modules to help high school educators lead engaging conversations and lessons of their own. Teams of three to four students received $1,000,000 in virtual U.S. dollars to build a portfolio. The group with the highest-valued portfolio earned $1,000 in prize money and all students who actively participated were awarded scholarships to attend Michigan Tech.

“The purpose of the Husky Investment Tournament is to offer more students more pathways to discover business opportunities at Michigan Tech,” said Dean Johnson, dean of the Michigan Tech College of Business. “We want young people to understand that investing is the key to their retirement and we want to help demystify the stock market in a hands-on and dynamic way.”

Students from Hancock Central High School in Hancock, Michigan, came in first place at the conclusion of trading earlier this month. Despite the stock market declining by 26% during the contest, the team of Ryan Levanen, Lance Meyette, Blain Stromer and Sam Stromer earned a positive 24% return. Their teacher, Leanne Laakonen, was impressed with how enthusiastically they participated: “They were emailing me, reaching out for updates — I’m immensely proud of them,” she stated. 

A New Way of Doing Business

When the outreach initiative kicked off in February, the biggest obstacle to work around was various spring break schedules. “The COVID-19 pandemic changed the content considerably, and the program quickly became a more important aspect of students’ remote learning opportunities,” Johnson said.

In real-time, the participants witnessed the longest bull market in U.S. history come to a screeching halt. At first, like many people, students were uncertain of next steps. “The market tanked and students were afraid to make the wrong move,” Johnson added. 

In addition to financial lessons, students learned the value of teamwork; one member of the winning Hancock team noted: “We discovered the need to consult with our investment partners every time we made a trade.”

“These students now have a better understanding of trading strategies and how to work through obstacles,” Johnson concluded.

Moving Business Education Forward

The Husky Investment Tournament is embedded into high school economics, business and personal finance classes. Since its launch in September 2019, 600 students across Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois have participated. High school educators or administrators wishing to sign teams up for the fall 2020 competition, should visit mtu.edu/business-tournament.