Daniels management student explores career options through four internships
The urge to explore came early to Caitlin Grant.
It started as a child when she—with her expat American family—lived first in Australia and then in England. The journey lasted more than 12 years, then continued at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies. Grant dual-majored in international studies and Spanish, and spent a semester in Peru applying her new language skills.
Two weeks into a second semester abroad exploring Argentina, the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to return home. Locked down and taking classes remotely, Grant became restless and sought something new to explore—this time it was the business world. She applied to and was accepted at the Daniels College of Business as a management student.
Now, Grant has taken her curiosity to a new level. In addition to a healthy class load, she has worked in four—yes, four—internships where she has explored different roles, different industries, different environments and her own skill set to find the right opportunity.
Grant’s first internship was with Denver-based Velocity Global, which helps global companies manage broadly distributed workforces. The opportunity married her interests in international business with a startup environment. She worked remotely in the company’s payroll department.
“My internship at Velocity Global was a real ‘aha!’ moment,” said Grant. “The professional world didn’t seem as far away or as convoluted as I thought it was when I was an undergraduate.”
“When you’re starting out, it’s so intimidating. I couldn’t envision what the professional world was like or how I would be in a company role,” she continued. “That experience opened the door and let me know that I needed to get out there and see what competencies I need for which jobs and what I enjoy doing before I commit to a job or career I know nothing about.”
Next, Grant interned with two small, entrepreneurial organizations: a local ice cream company and a marketing communications firm.
“Small businesses are really interesting to work for because they’re so relationship-oriented,” Grant said. “I had exposure to a lot more decision-making than working in a large, more formal corporate business.”
Grant said working for small businesses also helped her rediscover her creative side.
“At Rosebud Ice Cream, I had the opportunity to do some graphic design, which I’m not trained in, but it renewed my earlier interest in art,” she said. “I did design work at The Creative Angle too, but I also did some writing, web posting and scheduling, which exposed me to media and digital marketing.”
Based on these experiences, Grant added a concentration in marketing, combining her “eye for creativity” with her newer interest in the analytical aspects of business.
By the time she started her last internship in digital marketing with Shelton Capital Management, a Denver-based investment management firm, Grant was brimming with confidence.
“When I walked in, I knew the language—about business and especially digital marketing,” Grant said. “The other smaller company experiences really put me ahead by giving me exposure and getting me past the jargon, which can be a difficult aspect of any work environment.”
Grant applied for her internships through Daniels Career Services, which supports and develops career paths for students and alumni of Daniels.
“Experiential learning has become table stakes for employers,” said Bob Kumagai, executive director of Daniels Career Services. “We know that students—particularly undergraduates—who engage in at least one and preferably two internships during their four years have significantly better outcomes. They’re hired faster and they get paid more. Students that don’t engage in professionally oriented internships often struggle when they enter the workforce. And, although many graduate students are pivoting their careers, internships are increasingly important for them, as well.”
Set to graduate in December, Grant has accepted a full-time role as digital marketing associate with Shelton Capital Management.
“Overall, my internships forced me to try on several different hats, which helped me identify skills that I didn’t know I had because I wasn’t able to engage with them in a meaningful way in an academic setting,” Grant continued. “I really hadn’t realized how much I had learned.”