Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Con Edison Internship: Appreciating the Value of Field Experience

Michael Cicero, a Verrazano student in the Class of 2013, interned for Con Edison over the summer.  Read below to learn more about his internship and his perspective on the value of gaining experience outside of the classroom. 

Michael Cicero
During the summer of 2012, I had the privilege to work as an intern for Con Edison. As a Computer Science and Mathematics major, I was eager to find real world work experience in the field. I applied to many places, including Con Ed’s summer internship program which I found out about through a friend who works for the company. After a series of nerve-wracking telephone interviews and one in person interview, I was offered a position for the summer at Con Ed’s Information Resources department! I was very excited and immediately accepted. Also it was a full-time paid position in Staten Island where I live, which made it even more appealing.

My job assignment was to program electronic forms for company use. All existing forms in the company would become obsolete with the upgrading to Windows 7 Operating System; which Con Ed plans to do in the coming months. I was responsible for redesigning these forms in Microsoft InfoPath. This is basically a user-friendly software package that allows you to create those forms you sometimes see online when registering for a website or when making an online purchase. I had to find out who the owners of over 300 corporate forms were and reach out to them via email and/or telephone. My goal was to find out the functionality of their particular form and any updates/changes they might want in the new version of the form. I would then design the form, have it approved by the owner, and publish it to the company intra-net site for employee use. This was really a great opportunity on many levels. I now have the experience of programming software for various clients needs. This required communication skills, which I worked on and improved during the summer, as well as the ability to make the software which I owe to my computer science courses. I have made many social connections at the company, which in my opinion is the most invaluable asset I have taken from the summer internship. Who you know and how you know them can create many chances for recognition of skills and possible job opportunities. I was actually asked to stay on part-time during the school year! I will be continuing working on my assignment each Friday at Con Ed. I am very excited about this!

Con Edison has a program for recent graduates called the GOLD (Growth Opportunity for Leadership Development) Program. The program takes accepted applicants and puts them through 18 months of “Con Ed School.” In the 18 months you spend a third of the time in each department of the company (Engineering, IT, and Accounting) to get a thorough understanding of the company. At the end of the 18 months, assuming you have done well in the “Con Ed Schooling,” you are placed in a full-time management position. I am hoping my experience will help me get my foot in the door for this opportunity which I have applied for. I also hope that any fellow undergrads who are in the field of engineering, IT, or accounting will learn of this opportunity and apply as well!

All in all, I truly feel like I grew exponentially during the course of this internship, all for the better. My advice to any underclassmen would be, in addition to working hard in the classroom, it's important to get real work experience. Build your resume to its best reflection of your skills, get out there and apply to jobs. Be social and don’t be afraid to talk to people. Having skills is only half the battle. Being recognized for those skills by an employer is the other very important half.

It is important to remember that perseverance is key when applying for jobs or internships. At times during my application process, I felt like giving up. When you feel like giving it up, just remember that it is nothing personal and it’s simply a tough job market out there. Wise words of a professor of mine helped me realize that I was not alone in feeling this. Professor Robbins, a professor of astronomy at CSI, told me that when he was applying for jobs upon graduating from college, he had sent out 200 resumes. From the 200 resumes, he had 10 call backs of which he was granted 2 actual interviews, both whom offered him a job. The numbers just show the competitive reality of it all. His advice allowed me to apply to well over 100 companies, knowing that I was making the right moves. Like Professor Robbins, I only received a fraction of call backs, a few interviews, and 3 job offers. So to all those out there who are applying to internships and jobs, stay positive and just keep at it, eventually an opportunity will present itself.

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