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Pepperdine | Graziadio Business School

Three is a Magic Number: One Graziadio Graduate Student and Two Alumni Detail Their Internship Experiences

Two students talking together at table

Interning is by far one of the most beneficial opportunities students can undergo during their academic careers, especially when the business arena is highly competitive and there is a significantly large pool of talent to choose from. Additionally, by obtaining an internship, students have the chance to showcase their skills and potentially secure a full-time opportunity upon graduation.

Furthermore, interning days have changed significantly as businesses and organizations strategize ways to develop their talent pipelines—moving away from the infamous model of interns acting as “chore runners” but instead giving them the chance to influence the business with hands-on experience and practice directly. This, in turn, permits interns to gain invaluable experience while also bringing to the table specific knowledge, skills, and unique insights to the business in which they serve. 

Read below how our alumni and current students benefit from their internships and how Graziadio’s Career and Professional Development Department can aid students in finding the right internship opportunities. 



Miranda OdaMiranda Oda (MS ‘20)

  • Master of Science in Global Business
  • Interned at Northwestern Mutual 
  • Internship Title:  Marketing, Research, Finance, and Communication Intern

1. What was your greatest takeaway from your experience as an intern?

At Northwestern Mutual, my greatest takeaway was making meaningful connections and lasting relationships with the existing people in my life and the new people that I have met through the internship. I felt supported by everyone at the office, no matter what position they held. To feel a sense of belonging at the workplace is motivating. I learned that I have more competence and potential than I ever dreamed of. What contributed to my success in the internship was my work ethic and a new sense of confidence.

2. How do you believe Pepperdine prepared you for this experience?

Pepperdine prepared me in many ways that I am so grateful for. Experience with team collaboration and leadership was powerful. Learning how to manage a large workload and knowing how to be professional also helped me. A lot of people say to "be yourself." I agree that it's best to be yourself because you are the only one of your kind. However, I also believe that it's more important to be professional in a business setting. That's how I got people to take me seriously, respect me, and have confidence in me. Professionalism almost became a natural part of my personality due to Pepperdine.

3. How did your internship impact your decision for your career pathway?

This internship made me realize that I want to do this for the rest of my life. I believe it's because I found that this is a skill I never knew I had until I put it to action. That's the beauty of an internship; it allows you to gain experience and determine if the path you want to take is the right one for you. It's easy to say that you want to be a financial advisor. However, you don't realize it's a fit until you do the work hands-on! Although this career comes with many challenges and continuing education requirements for certifications, these are sacrifices I am willing to take and challenges I want to conquer because everything else is very much worth it. Helping the people I care about, and the people they care about to feel great about their financial security is fulfilling when I go to bed at night.

4. What advice would you give to others seeking an internship?

My advice would be to do your research on the company. Make sure you know what you're getting yourself into. I didn't know what the Northwestern Mutual internship entailed, so I had to be very adaptable when things came my way.



TE’dra Jackson (MS ‘17)TE’dra Jackson (MS ‘17)

  • Master of Science in Human Resources 
  • Interned at Wedgewood LLC
  • Talent Acquisition Intern

1. What was your greatest takeaway from your experience as an intern?

My biggest takeaways were not to be afraid to speak up and be prepared. I interned for a Real Estate organization as a Talent Acquisition Intern, and a part of my role was to select candidates that were qualified for the roles I was recruiting for. My favorite day was when the Recruiters, Chief Human Resources Officer, and I would get together to discuss why our candidates would be the best fit for the job. This experience taught me how to strategically speak up for others, even those that may not be in the room; one of the people I suggested was hired!!!  I appreciate this experience because it taught me how to build cases for individuals, learn what the leadership was looking for, and make sure the individuals selected aligned with our organization’s seeking in an employee. 

2. How do you believe Pepperdine prepared you for this experience?

Pepperdine was the perfect training ground for Corporate America. Groups! Groups! Groups! We were consistently put in groups throughout our program, giving insight into diverse thoughts, motivations, personalities, and work styles. To effectively interact with individuals, you must understand how they think, what motivates them, their personality and work styles to maximize the relationship and accomplish the results you seek to fulfill.

3. How did it impact your decision for your career pathway?

Deciding my career path was the hardest for me because Human Resources is such a broad industry - so I decided to start my career off in a training program that will allow me to have exposure to the functions of Human Resources; after my training program, I transitioned into Recruiting, and after two years I am in Training.

4. What advice would you give to others seeking an internship?

Understanding what each function of Human Resources entails before getting into the industry will help your job search become more targeted.  Don't take it personally; it’s a journey, not a destination, and as you evolve, so will your career evolve.  Build your network vertical and horizontal, have accountability and support, don't go at it alone.  Know your why - your why will keep you focused; it will give you the strength to endure through the good and the bad. Books That Helped Me: Office Game by Kossen Scott; The Memo by Minda Harts, and the Bible.  



Sandeep K. DhillonSandeep K. Dhillon

  • Current MBA Student
  • Interning at Abbott
  • Marketing Manager Intern 

1. What was your greatest takeaway from your experience as an intern?

One of the most significant takeaways from my experience as an intern is that I have value and always room for growth, both personally and professionally. There’s a lot of grace shown to interns, and we aren’t expected to perform perfectly—however, you dedicate yourself to being great if you take the initiative. If you demonstrate leadership qualities, you’ll blow away everyone at your company. Work harder than you think you need to work because this internship is essentially an interview with the company—if you want to be seen as a leader, you need to behave like a leader. Being an intern doesn’t mean you don’t have a voice or that you can’t take the initiative on projects. The impression you leave during your internship should be a positive and strong one. But also remember that this is a time to interview the company, too. All of your interactions with people in the company are mini-interviews. Pay attention to how people speak about one another, their work-life balance, and the company culture. 

Some practical advice: set expectations with your supervisor early. Ask questions if you are confused or your project parameters aren’t clear. Don’t wait until the last minute to get clarification. Go above and beyond during your internship, and it’ll be easier to negotiate when you get your full-time offer. 

2. How do you believe your degree program at Pepperdine prepared you for this experience?

The skills you learn in business school can be applied directly to your experiences in corporate America. The constant assignment of group projects taught me a lot about collaboration, but my participation in four case competitions taught me to think outside the box. The most important skill I learned at Pepperdine, however, was NETWORKING. Networking is KEY. I was not only given a full-time offer upon graduation, but someone who had nothing to do with my summer project offered me a part-time gig during my second year because I took it upon myself to network with people outside of my assigned department. This person is now my mentor and is putting a lot of time and energy into helping me build roots within the company before I even join full-time. I met this person during a brief meeting at the start of my internship. Though I had no true need to reach out to her again to complete my project, I was interested in the work she was doing and scheduled a call with her “just to chat” about her career trajectory. We built a relationship over the next two months, and she ended up being one of the most valuable connections I made during my internship!

3. How did your internship impact your career pathway decision?

My internship impacted my career pathway decision in that it reaffirmed that I was pursuing a career in the correct industry. It was also exciting to explore my leadership potential and receive feedback from individuals who are currently in positions I one day hope to attain. 

4. What advice would you give to others seeking an internship?

Be persistent and don’t lose faith. Ideally, you want to start your internship search right away, but don’t lose hope if life derails you, and you need to start later than you anticipated. Always behave with professionalism and cultivate strong relationships with your professors. They will advocate for you if you prove yourself (some of my peers have internship opportunities because they were introduced to someone through their instructor). GET INVOLVED—don’t just focus on school. I know a few people got killer internships despite only focusing on school, but case competitions and challenging experiences help hone your skill set. Finally, don’t lose heart if you don’t get a job offer after your first few interviews. Every interview is an opportunity to refine your skills, your script, and your approach. You’ll get to where you need to be in life with persistence—just don’t give up.