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The dreaded sophomore slump is usually characterized by a lack of ambition and drive, a noticeable dip in the ever-so-prized GPA, and a general feeling of inadequacy. While I was able to avoid the sophomore slump this past year at Yale University, I felt surrounded by the constant questions of what I had lined up for my summer plans. It is precisely this critical question that stumps so many rising juniors.

My school offers many summer opportunities and guidance for freshmen in a wide range of fields,  including study abroad, research, and enticing internships that are reserved for freshmen only. Last summer, I was able to take advantage of a fully funded fellowship that allowed me to study Chinese in Beijing for two months as well as travel through Europe and Asia. Having shored up my language skills, I desired to pursue a sophomore year internship so that I could build practical and universal skills that would eventually complement my career. It was at this junction where I realized the daunting task that lay before me. A quick perusal through Yale’s career services website was rather disappointing; I was not eligible for the vast majority of internships due to one simple fact: I was just a sophomore. While I could sympathize with the fact that firms only wish to target rising seniors who could be offered full-time positions upon the successful completion of the internship, I still was left with no plans for my sophomore summer.

Upon hearing about an internship in Pittsburgh with Schneider Downs, I immediately jumped at the chance to spend the summer in my hometown. In the cutthroat and competitive environment that surrounds the internship hunt and on-campus recruiting, Schneider Downs offered a welcoming and refreshing recruiting process open to students of any academic class. During the interview process, I was nervous that I did not possess the right skill set or the industry background to be a competitive candidate for the position. However, Schneider Downs emphasized that the most important quality in a candidate was the willingness to learn and adapt on the job. By spring break, I knew that I would be interning with Schneider Downs Corporate Finance for ten weeks in the summer.

I was quite nervous starting my internship; my economics classes discussed much about theory and models that worked given certain assumptions, but I had no previous experience with the practical aspects of finance or investment banking. However, the Corporate Finance team was especially proactive in getting me up to speed with several projects and the technical aspects of the industry. Going into the fourth week of my internship, I can by no means say that I feel completely comfortable with the projects that I have worked on. However, I know that compared to four weeks ago, I am light years ahead, and with the six weeks that I have left, I have no doubt that I will make even greater progress and contribute more to Schneider Downs.

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