As the summer winds down, the team at ESI must say goodbye to its current group of interns. These brilliant young men and women have diligently supported our projects and work, but now it’s time for them to return to school and continue learning and exploring every opportunity available.
However, before they depart, we sat down to capture their final thoughts. Call it an exit interview of sorts, that gives us a deeper understanding of the individuals they are, the work they have done, and how being part of ESI has shaped their sense of the roles they’ll have as future business leaders. Below is their commentary.
What was the best lesson you learned while at ESI?
Camille: It was a very remote type of work at my last internship. Coming here, you’re drawn to research. It was useful to get a sense of learning research skills, and get a sense of what’s out there. I also enjoyed working with other people my age in a team setting.
Seya: When I was in Shanghai, there were events with entrepreneurs and they told me, “Your most marketable skills is research”, and it was interesting to see how it actually applied in real life situations while at ESI.
Lev: Learning all the nuances you don’t get from textbooks has been a valuable experience.
Hunter: Although I learned a lot in these high level (economic) classes, I had no experience applying this knowledge in a real business setting. I didn’t just want to learn more about economic theory, I wanted to use the skills I learned in my classes, and to diversify my knowledge of economics in applied settings.
What was a challenge you faced in your role?
Mohin: The balance of figuring out what is important enough to ask a Director, and when can you actually interrupt people to ask questions. It was nice having independence with tasks, but there were times when you didn’t know how to solve a problem and needed more support.
Seya: I agree. Once I had to call a friend of mine who is an attorney to get explanation on tax policies and even she agreed that the questions I had to research were hard. A challenge was figuring out stuff independently versus asking a Director or Principal, what should I do?
What do you hope to get out of this experience in terms of your next steps? How will you use the resources acquired at ESI?
Mohin: I will stay connected to ESI and with Dick Voith, ESI President and Founding Principal. I’ll still be helping on projects, and working remotely from Carnegie Mellon. I’ve made a lot of contacts here, and it’s a great springboard into consulting in the future.
Seya: Recommendations. In my experience it’s key to finding your next thing. Keeping contact and networking are key.
Camille: The most valuable for me has been to learn from everyone around. It’s truly amazing. The learning aspect was important, and learning from what was shared with me. The interns are given an opportunity to get to know the Directors and Principals which is a unique experience.
Lev: I might try to come back for my co-op. While I’m back at Drexel, I’d also like to take Steve Mullin’s class.
Hunter: Being exposed to a wide variety of economic areas. For someone who is uncertain where they wish to aim their career trajectory like me, this exposure was inexplicably valuable.
How would you describe some of the Principals?
Lev: Steve is The Nutty Professor; brilliant yet goofy and lovable.
Mohin: Steve is like Michael Scott from The Office. He’s brilliant and gets a lot done, but nobody knows exactly what or how he’s doing it.
What will you miss the most?
Lev: It’s been interesting and rewarding to see how our work applies to the real world. When I’m walking around I go, “I wrote a report on that building.” You begin to feel very connected to the city.
Seya: In the past internship I had, I was the only one. This was my first internship with other interns. Usually I work with older people. It was fun to have peers at work and be part of a comfortable environment. The ambiance here is unique and fun.
Mohin: I’ll miss the satisfaction of seeing projects go out.
Camille: You’re learning a whole lot about Philadelphia and what’s going on in the city. I had no idea about tax policy before coming to ESI. It’s awesome when you see your research actually being used. You get a sense of, “Oh, I did that!” Seeing your research used and the feedback you received was really rewarding.
How do you compare this internship with others?
Seya: More responsibilities are put on the interns here. The hierarchy is set, but it feels flat which is nice. The Principals and Directors are very accessible. It was nice to see how much the interns matter.
Lev: It was nice working with people my age. I’ve always been the youngest person in the room. It was comforting to know it’s okay to make mistakes and you’re learning at the same stage as other interns.
Camille: My previous internship was very different and I worked remotely. Communication was heavily reliant on emails. It’s been nice to actually connect and work in an office.
What’s next for you?
Seya: International development, where I can expand on what I’ve learned at ESI. And also economic development on a local level. I’m interested in it, so I guess it’s the right field. I can’t wait to see how I can apply my knowledge in other settings.
Mohin: I’m not sure what I want to do after graduation in 3 months. I was looking at computer sciences and data science, which has statistical analysis and overlap with what I’ve learned here. I want to concentrate in economics. ESI was a good introduction.
Camille: Last summer I spent my time in research and behavioral economics, but I realized that I enjoyed the pace of the work at ESI more than the pace of traditional research.
Lev: My first co-op is coming right after this. Long term, my goal is politics, so this gave me good insight into policy work and the unbelievable complexity that goes into even the smallest of things.
Do you have any words of wisdom for the staff or next class of interns?
Seya: You’re given a lot of responsibility here, and you’re given that for a reason. Don’t be shy, be open to opportunities.
Lev: Don’t feel that you have to be overly professional with your peers, and don’t feel like your voice doesn’t matter. Sometimes you are allowed to question the boss, and it’s okay.
Mohin: Interns should spend more time together. Use your lunches to connect and get to know one another better.
Camille: ESI was a good place to learn about opportunity cost. Yes, Directors and Analysts can do the research better than you, but your most valuable resource is your time and offering it. And trust yourself.
If you had to choose one principal to be stuck with on a deserted island with, who would it be, and why?
Our interns unanimously agreed on Lee Huang, Senior Vice President and Principal. They felt he would be the most resourceful in getting off the island, although Steve would make it highly entertaining.
ESI wholeheartedly thanks Camille, Hunter, Lev, Mohin, Seya, and all of our interns over the years, for their dedication to our work. We would additionally like to acknowledge Hunter Holroyd (Haverford College ’18), Naomi Batzer (Barnard College, Columbia University ’17), Amany Afify (Drexel University), Daraius Sumariwalla (Denison University ’18), Lauren Bauman (Drexel University ’17), and Madeline Hertz (Drexel University ’17) who were part of this year’s internship program, but were unable to participate in this conversation. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to ESI.We have truly appreciated your presence and enthusiasm, and look forward to watching you continue to grow and develop into the smart, capable leaders we know you will be. You are always welcome, and encouraged to remain in contact. Good luck in all your future endeavors!
Mike Daly is a Marketing Associate at Econsult Solutions, Inc (ESI). Mr. Daly is responsible for enhancing ESI’s brand and work through traditional and social media, content development for the web, and managing the ESI Blog.