As the Choice Fashion and Media intern this year, I was asked to resurface a project that began a few years ago. A Choice intern created this project to track the success of former interns in the years following their time at Choice. With most of the Choice interns being rising college juniors and seniors, it is exciting to see where their careers take them after graduation. I have reached out to Melanie Zenn, a Summer 2016 intern, to get feedback on her experience here at Choice and to see what she is up to now.
Melanie was thrilled that we reached out to her and had a lot of great things to say! Take look at our Q&A below to see how Choice has helped Melanie Zenn with her career and where she is now:
A: I first heard of Choice from, of course, my mother. She had just caught up with an old friend whose daughter loved her new job as a marketing manager at a law firm. How’d she get the job? She went to a recruiting firm, Choice Associates.
A: I interned for Choice the summer after my sophomore year of college. I had not declared my major yet, but knew that I wanted to study something in the business college. I was leaning towards pursuing Information Technology, but was torn between my competing interests in Marketing and Political Science. Not to mention I was also intrigued by the idea of Law School. With little experience and no clear path, I contacted Choice about internship opportunities. When I met with Cassie for an interview, it was unclear if they were interested in me as a candidate or an intern. Though my original intent was to be a Choice candidate, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about their intern role, and even more excited to accept the position.
A: Working at Choice was a remarkably rewarding experience for several reasons. It was my first real job. Being that I didn’t know what I wanted to do at that time, I wasn’t sure if I was learning much that would transfer into my career, especially when I was thinking about IT. In hindsight, it is so clear to me that my experiences at Choice have directly impacted my work ethic and even everyday life. The team taught me how to communicate and present myself professionally, step outside of my comfort zone, remain positive and persistent in the face of rejection, and how to have fun while doing it all.
A: Yes! The team provided me with unrivaled professional insight. The girls advised me on various career-related topics from the use of social media (especially LinkedIn, which is so important), to composing a resume, to maintaining a professional image. In particular, Marissa taught me several lessons; some intentional, but many subliminal through her actions and persona in general. Marissa lives by the slogan “Dream Big,” and it shines through every aspect of her life. When she is passionate about something, nothing can stop her from reaching her goal. As a daughter, sister, mother, wife, author, recruiter, involved alum and, most importantly, HBIC, Marissa taught me that people don’t need to fit into a single, narrow job description. You can have a thriving career and still pursue your hobbies and chase after your dreams!
A: My one piece of advice to a future candidate at Choice is to take advantage of the opportunity that you’ve been given. The experience is entirely what you make of it, so make it the best that it can be! Ask questions, learn a lot, and push the boundaries of your comfort zone. Don’t be shy – you couldn’t be surrounded by a kinder, more caring group of strong women. And have fun! It’s rare to find yourself in such an enjoyable working environment with such entertaining colleagues.
A: Since interning with Choice in 2016, I completed another summer internship and have now graduated and begun working full time. Upon returning to school after my summer at Choice, it took me another semester before declaring my major: Real Estate. It may seem out of left field, but I really enjoyed the introductory class and chose to pursue it (not to mention the Real Estate program is consistently ranked among the top five in the country). The following summer I worked for Roseland Real Estate Trust, a Mac-Cali Company as a Leasing Specialist and Property Management Intern. In my last year of school, I took the bulk of my real estate courses and narrowed my interest down to commercial real estate development. Being that a real estate developer is far from an entry level position, my goal was to work at a large commercial real estate firm with opportunity for upward mobility. Within two short weeks after graduation I survived five rounds of interviews and was offered a position at Vornado Realty Trust, the largest owner of office and retail space in Manhattan. Needless to say, I enthusiastically accepted the offer and assumed my role as a Project Coordinator about ten days later.
A: There is not a hint of doubt in my mind that my internship at Choice has been advantageous to my professional identity. Aside from all the valuable knowledge gained at Choice, the experience at large greatly contributed to my corporate repertoire. To have this internship on my resume is impactful on its own. It serves as professional experience, a great talking point for interviews and appears impressive (especially to those located outside the tri-state area,) to have worked in New York, let alone on Fifth Ave. Moreover, I know I can count on the Choice team if I ever need a referral. Lastly, and possibly the most important lesson I learned at Choice, was that this experience helped me figure out what I didn’t want to do as a career, as did my following internship at Roseland. I say that with no negative connotation whatsoever – learning what you don’t want to do is just as important as learning what you do want to do, especially for people like myself who don’t necessarily have a calling and are torn between various paths. Both of my summer internships were remarkable experiences that taught me more than I could have ever anticipated, but they also both taught me what direction I did not want to move towards professionally. Choice had an integral role in developing my skillset that I continue to utilize and grow every day.