Following Up - University of Houston
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Following Up June 15, 2020

A few companies reached out to me and requested to do a first-round virtual interview through an application called HireVue. Some other companies invited me to information sessions and interviewed me in person. I finished all of my interviews, followed up with the recruiters, and waited for them to reply with offer letters

Unfortunately, none of the companies I interviewed with decided to proceed with my application. I got a little discouraged. It didn't necessarily mean I wasn’t good for them, but maybe I wasn’t the candidate they were looking for. I knew I had to land an internship offer for the Summer of 2019, so I started exploring other opportunities online.

I created an Excel sheet to keep track of my applications and applied to 40-50 internships online including big tech companies such as Google, Apple, BP, and United Airlines. I did many virtual interviews and waited for a follow-up offer letter. I did not hear back from any of the companies for over a month, so I started exploring other opportunities on how I should spend my summer. Two months later, I received an invitation to a one-to-one virtual interview with a recruiter from United Airlines. I dressed professionally and did the interview. It was both a behavioral and technical interview. In the technical interview, the recruiter asked me to solve a coding problem on a virtual whiteboard, and a problem-solving challenge. In the behavioral interview, I was asked about how I behaved in certain circumstances in the past and how I would handle some issues if encountered. A week later, I was offered the position as a Digital Technology Intern at United Airlines, a Fortune 500 company. I was incredibly happy and felt so relieved I finally had an internship lined up for the Summer.

First Internship Experience

Rawan and peers in front of airplane

I was excited to join United Airlines for my summer internship since it would be my first corporate job. On the first day, I met my manager and was introduced to the team (Cargo IT) and my fellow interns. During the same week, I took my first business trip to Chicago, where United Airlines’ main headquarters are located, for an intern orientation. The other interns from different states and schools were in the event along with vice president, now CEO, Scott Kirby who I had the opportunity to speak with. It was an awesome experience!

When I came back to Houston, I visited the United Airlines Cargo site where they upload and offload cargo into and from airplanes. It was a learning experience about how cargo operations were handled, and packages were shipped. In the remaining 11 weeks, I worked on two different projects; one group project with Houston interns, and one with my assigned team.

In the beginning, many challenges came across my journey. One of those challenges was working on a technology I never interacted with, however, my knowledge in programming helped me along the way. Learning, researching, and asking people with experience were the keys to finding solutions and answers to my questions. I definitely learned A LOT! The second challenge I faced was the new terms and acronyms used in the industry. The employees use so many industry terms I never heard of, so it took me a few weeks to be familiar with most of the terms.

One of the most exciting things I got to do with United Airlines was to go on a Kitchen Facility tour in Houston. It is the facility where food in the airplanes get prepared, cooked, and loaded into the airplanes.  It was very nice seeing what’s behind the scenes.

On the last day of my internship, I presented and delivered my work on an iOS application to my manager and team. My manager was so satisfied with my work and hoped I would return for a second internship. Few weeks later, I was offered a second internship with United Airlines for Summer 2020. I politely asked the recruiter to extend my offer’s deadline because I was in the process of interviewing with other companies. The recruiter accepted my request and offered me a two-month extension.

How I Easily Got 3 Internship Offers

Since the day I returned to college for fall of 2019, I have been working as a Peer Career Advisor in the University of Houston Career Services.  I applied to be a PCA because I wanted to be part of organizing career events, expand my network connections, and get the experience of working in a new field. So far, it has been such a great experience. Throughout the fall semester, I wasn’t actively looking for an internship knowing that I had a pending offer. I volunteered in organizing the Computer Science career fair and I never regret that I did. While in the career fair, I talked to a couple major companies I always wanted to speak with and handed out my resume. This time, my experience speaking with employers was way better than my first career fair, and I had great conversations so that one of the conversations took nearly 15 minutes. It was more of an interview, and I was comfortable answering all the questions.

During the same week of the career fair, I received an invitation to a women-only event hosted by ExxonMobil who I had a great conversation with. I attended the event and was impressed that the recruiter I spoke with in the career fair remembered my name, so we had another good conversation. Right after the event, I received an invitation to interview with ExxonMobil, so I prepared myself and did the interview. I followed up with the person who interviewed me, thanked him for his time, and connected with him on LinkedIn. A month later, I received an invitation to attend a football game organized by ExxonMobil. I was a bit confused as I did not receive an offer yet, but I went to the event to network and have fun. We had a VIP lounge with Dr. Renu Kahtor, the president of UH, and spent time networking with employees and previous interns. Shortly after the game, I was offered an internship position for Summer 2020, and I was happy to sign the offer. I did not hesitate to sign the offer because I always wanted to work with this company.

My third internship offer was a referral. For those who don't know the term, it is an internal method for finding job candidates. It is a program that companies, and organizations use to find talented people by asking their existing employees to recommend candidates from their existing networks. Remember when I talked about being a president in the Women in Cyber Security organization? Because of that experience, I received an offer as a SOC (Security Operation Center) Analyst from Schlumberger after I accepted ExxonMobil’s offer. Unfortunately, I declined the offer.

When evaluating the offers, I considered four major aspects: industry, position, pay rate, and location. Being offered to work in an energy industry in Houston as a software developer made it difficult to decline ExxonMobil’s offer. It is my second week working virtually as an intern with ExxonMobil, and I can say that I made the right decision.