Category: Undergrad Information

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? 


Apply Now for the Spring Break 2020 Michigan Tech Silicon Valley Experience

Aspiring student entrepreneurs and innovators are invited to apply for the Michigan Technological University Silicon Valley Experience, an immersive tour during spring break 2020 of California Bay Area companies that includes meetings with entrepreneurs and Michigan Tech alumni who are leaders in their field. The deadline to apply for the experience co-hosted by Husky Innovate, a collaboration between the Pavlis Honors College, the College of Business, and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization, is February 10, 2020.

student standing in Facebook headquarters

Silicon Valley is known for its technology breakthroughs, high-tech startups, innovative companies, and Fortune 1000 companies. Its innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem including culture, policies, talent, resources, and networks serve as inspiration for students.

The Silicon Valley Experience will showcase multiple perspectives of a day-in-the-life of successful entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and business leaders. This tour will provide an interactive opportunity for students to discover more about a variety of industry settings, to sample various innovative corporate cultures through tours and presentations, and to meet and talk with successful alumni entrepreneurs.

Up to 15 students will be guaranteed a slot on the trip. Lodging, ground transportation to and from toured companies, and some food will be covered. Students will be responsible for arranging and paying for their own air travel. Students who have a demonstrated financial need can apply for a limited travel scholarship.

Students who apply and are accepted will have the opportunity to:

  • Tour companies like Google, Netflix, Hewlett Packard, Facebook, Ford, Clari, BYTON, Twilio, Autodesk, Waymo, the Porter Vineyard, as well as recent Michigan Tech-alumnus startup company Handshake
  • Meet with entrepreneurs and innovators
  • Talk with Michigan Tech alumni who are leaders in their field
  • Get answers to your real-world business, innovation, and leadership questions
  • Gain firsthand knowledge of the enterprises that are revolutionizing global business

As part of the application, students will create a two-minute video describing how they will share their experience with the Michigan Tech community upon completion of their travel in order to positively contribute to our entrepreneurial ecosystem. Apple here: SVE Experience 2020 Application.

Major funding for the trip is provided by the 14 Floors alumni group.


Tech’s Accounting Major Among Top in State

Prospective students looking for a top accounting program can look no further than Michigan Tech, whose program ranks number three in the state among four-year public colleges and universities according to newly released rankings by College Factual. Only Michigan State and Hope College rank higher on its list.

Michigan Tech accounting has achieved this ranking two years in a row.

Two students in learning center

Dean Johnson, dean of the College of Business, says it’s our focus on technology in addition to attentive faculty that offer superior outcomes for Husky accounting graduates.

“The accounting field is being driven by technology and a demand for data management. Our grads are uniquely prepared for high-level, high-tech careers in accounting because of our nimble curriculum led by professors who care.”

See College Factual’s 2020 Best Accounting Schools in Michigan list here.


They Can See Clearly Now: Couple Donates Washer Fluid for Student Travelers

By Mark Wilcox, University Marketing and Communications

Roger Woods (engineering management faculty) and Teresa Woods (Math) often travel during the holidays. For a while now the Woods have been looking for a way to make a donation related to residential life, when the idea of helping students traveling home for the holidays came to mind.

Drone photo of campus and Portage Canal

“In our various Thanksgiving and Christmas travels we have always gone through gallons of washer fluid heading downstate or to Wisconsin,” Roger Woods says. “We recognize that most Tech students do the same but may not have factored washer fluid into their plans. We came up with the idea of donating cases of washer fluid to the residence halls for whomever needs it.”

The Woods reached out to Auto Value of Houghton which sold them 100 gallons of washer fluid at cost. The washer fluid will be available beginning today at the desks of each residence hall.

Joseph Cooper, director of Student Financial Services, is also interim director of Residence Education and Housing Services. He applauds the Woods for their creative donation. “Many of us have been in the predicament where we’re struggling to get to the next gas station to fill up on washer fluid. This is an incredibly generous idea and we appreciate Roger and Teresa supporting our students in this unique way.”

Gallon bottles of washer fluid are available for students on a first-come, first-served basis along with a wish for safe travels from the folks who donated them. “From your fellow road trippers, R & T Woods — Be safe.”


Preparing for a Future-Proof Career: My Experience at the Global Leadership Summit

By Jennifer Carolan, accounting student

As part of Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS), the honor society that represents the top five percent of the top 10 percent of AACSB-accredited business schools, I recently attended the 2019 Global Leadership Summit in Chicago. The event had many networking opportunities and included recruiters from Geico and KPMG (a top accounting organization), as well as amazing speakers and 400 other students from all around the globe. Throughout the conference, I made many connections to concepts I am familiar with thanks to my business classes at Michigan Technological University.

Student stands in front of pull-up banner at conference
Students in Beta Gamma Sigma are recognized by employers as being the “best in business”

 The Future of Work panel highlighted how with artificial intelligence (AI), it is important to have specialized skills and to rapidly adapt to technology. This is the perfect takeaway for me as a Michigan Tech student because Tech is giving me the tools to work with technology and to specialize with a data analytics concentration

During the trip, I became familiar with the Clifton Strengths test from one of the speakers. The Clifton Strengths test helps identify four key categories of strengths to better understand how people perform. The test provides self-awareness and helps understand how people with different skill sets work together, which is one of the skills that won’t lose value in the future and is something we spend a lot of time on in our Team Dynamics business class. 

Another reference to my classes was ethics. Ethics is a part of many of my courses at Michigan Tech and for good reason; I learned that 83 percent of people experience an ethical dilemma in the first two years of employment, and everyone does at some point in their career. One of the speakers taught the RAISE (Recognize, Analyze, Identify, Select, Execute) model to combat unethical situations. It is important to follow through to the end when combating unethical situations, even if it isn’t easy. I plan to take this advice to properly handle unethical situations in my future career. It feels good knowing I have a plan for difficult situations I might encounter.

One of Michigan Tech’s core values–tenacity–was emphasized by a speaker. They defined it as a mathematical equation: skill plus achievement plus effort. Michigan Tech students certainly have tenacity and it is an asset that won’t go away anytime soon. The speaker also mentioned the importance of self-awareness and communication, because the future of work will require soft skills no matter how technologically advanced the world becomes. 

Lastly, a recurring theme throughout the whole event was life-long learning. Dean Johnson, dean of the School of Business and Economics, also believes it’s the right mindset to have in business. It was noted that being a life-long learner is not just about continuing your education, but that it could also be specializing with certificates, learning new technologies, and simply being willing to adapt to our changing world.

Careers of tomorrow won’t look like they do today, and preparing myself for the changing world is an important step. 

Student stands in front of Beta Gamma Sigma pull-up banner at conference.
Students in Beta Gamma Sigma are recognized by employers as being the “best in business.”