Oberlin Blogs

All About My Summer Internship

October 11, 2022

Charlize Villasenor ’23

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog posts, I’m sure you know by now that I spent my summer interning at Citi working on the Internal Audit team in Tampa, Florida. Due to the three-semester plan that was utilized during 2020-2021, I spent summer 2021 taking classes and interned during spring 2021 instead. Although this limited some of my options for internships, I was able to match with an organization through Oberlin. This past academic year, I applied to countless internships and I was able to secure an internship with the help of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) Careers. If you’ve been wondering how my summer went, I have quite the post for you.

My summer in Tampa had quite the highs and lows. Namely, I caught COVID when my summer classes began and realized how expensive it is to live in a major city, but I also met plenty of people and received a job offer and scholarship! During the spring semester, I enrolled in the Junior Practicum course with the primary goal of receiving funding to help aid my summer internship, but I also gained valuable insight into what I wanted to gain from my internship and how I could make the most from my experience. Although most people tend to have a general idea of their long term and short term goals, in this course we wrote our career goals and how an internship might help with achieving them. This could vary from networking to improving technical skills, and more. I wanted to improve some of my technical skills, but I also knew that learning to live on my own in a city far away from home would be important for the next chapter of my life. Through SEO, I submitted applications to various partner companies and interviewed many times until I found an internship that fit.

After two behavioral interviews and a case study, I was accepted for a role as summer analyst in the Internal Audit department as part of the 2022 class of interns at Citi. I had to juggle introductory meetings and information sessions with class times and homework for the last month of the spring semester. Though it was still difficult for me to entirely understand what Internal Audit meant, I was just glad to secure an internship that paid well and could hopefully lead to a full-time offer after graduation. 

The last few weeks of school were extremely hectic and stressful. I was trying to keep up with technical training sessions from SEO so I could be successful in my summer internship, final exams and projects, ensuring my registration for summer classes at another institution was set in place, saying goodbye to graduating friends, and securing travel plans so I could visit family in El Paso and attend a music festival in Chicago I had bought tickets for months in advance. After I left Oberlin, I was in Chicago for six days and El Paso for three before I landed in Tampa. It was tiring, yet rewarding, being in four cities within two weeks. 

Before I landed in Tampa I was filled with excitement and anxiety. I was in a state I had never been to before and nearly 400 miles from any family members. Dozens of questions ran through my mind. What if I was living in a dangerous part of town without realizing it? What if I got into a car accident—who would tell my family? What if there was a hurricane and I didn’t know what to do in case of an emergency? Though most of these situations were unlikely, I wasn’t sure that I was entirely prepared to live on my own for 10 weeks. But like most uncomfortable feelings, the anxiety faded with time. My first day in Tampa I was too nervous to leave the house so I got my groceries delivered, but by my last weekend I was in St. Petersburg, the next city over, having a beach day and visiting different shops and cafes. 

 Aside from my general antsiness, I had an amazing experience at Citi. Before I get to the professional aspects of why I enjoyed my time as an intern, let me give a rundown of the details that were the cherry on top.

  • For the first time, I had a badge with my name and photo to access the building
  • There were different food trucks available every day during lunch and Citi employees received a 30% discount
  • On a similar note, there was a Starbucks food truck and you better believe I visited it almost every morning I was in the office
  • Dress code was "smart casual," so I was able to dress comfortably and in a way that aligned with my style while remaining presentable
  • I worked in a part of the office with double monitors, and now I completely understand the hype 
  • One hour lunch was enough time to eat and get some things done or just catch my breath
  • I had a great team and intern class; I was able to interact and network with so many people from different departments and from offices across the world

Now in terms of my professional experience, I will go into a bit more detail. I started the first week of my internship entirely over Zoom. The interns learned about internal audit processes, using Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint efficiently, financial modeling, and more. Though it felt like a lot to learn in a week, I was able to recall things I learned throughout the internship and I was supported by my peers where I had gaps in my learning. Once I was placed with my team, my immediate manager reached out to me to have a conversation about my goals for the summer and how he could help me accomplish them. The program manager for the internal audit summer analysts was extremely amicable and supportive. She encouraged us to regularly give feedback about the programming and how we wanted to structure our time. 

Overall, no matter who I spoke to, it seemed that everyone said they loved Citi because of the people. At first that response seemed a bit generic to me, but after a few weeks I understood what everyone meant. The analysts planned monthly hangouts doing different things such as shuffleboard or spending time at casual dinners, and people were very open to talking about their careers and lives. What really stood out to me was the flexibility and understanding that people had lives outside of their job. After the fourth of July, I caught COVID for the first time. Thankfully I was working remotely on the day I tested positive, but I got my results and told my manager immediately. He called me to fill out paperwork and then told me to log off for the day and just get some rest. While he could have told me to just work remotely for the week, he allowed me to take the next day off as well until I felt well enough to work remotely. I worked remotely for about a week and a half until I had no symptoms and I was able to return to the office. My manager assured me if I needed anything, that he was just a phone call away—and the offer felt genuine. 

I was also assigned a junior and senior mentor who were each analysts. My junior mentor was in the full-time program that would follow the internship, and my senior mentor was in a few positions above that. I especially connected with my junior mentor and learned so much about Citi from him. From company culture to life in Tampa, my junior mentor showed me the ropes and gave me insight into what my life could look like in a year or two. My senior mentor was based in New York, but she taught me about life at Citi and corporate finance careers from another lens. Both gave me opportunities to explore and inquire so I could decide if this would be the path for me.

Apart from the full-time employees, the interns across all departments were great as well. At Citi, I worked with interns from various schools across the country. We planned beach days and dinners and overall were able to get to know each other better and learn from one another. We all worked on different projects or assignments, but at the end of the summer we each gave presentations about what we accomplished and our takeaways from the internship. It was great to see all of our growth and learn at the end that everyone in our internal audit intern class was offered a full-time analyst position following graduation. 

Yes, that means I was also offered a position at Citi after I graduate. On top of my job offer, I was also awarded a scholarship that will greatly help with various costs in the next year. I loved working in a hybrid environment and getting to know Tampa, and I’m excited to keep learning across the different teams within internal audit. I have accepted the position and I’m grateful I don’t have to go through the job application process while I finish up my time at Oberlin. 

While this was a bit of a long post, I wanted to be thorough with my experience because I didn’t know much about internships before college. I feel that my time at Oberlin has allowed me to make the most of my internships and made me represent myself as best as possible throughout the application process. Although the last few years have been a wild ride, I can feel all my efforts paying off now. 


P.S. - If any future Obies are living in the Tampa Bay or St. Petersburg area, feel free to send beach or restaurant recommendations my way!


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