Founders Summer Recap:

Internships in Tech


As summer draws to a close with the start of a new school year approaching fast, both incoming and returning students alike at Western are gearing up to make their time in the months ahead count. Whether it be achieving your academic goals, trying to maintain a social life, or participating in the countless extra-curricular activities offered around campus, as a student, the reality is that you’re constantly challenged to juggle your priorities.

One of the most daunting tasks — especially for incoming first-years — is to make sense of the different campus groups and club opportunities at Western. During USC Clubs Week, students are invited to learn more first-hand about the hundreds of clubs on campus. Even then, processing so much club information at once can leave you anxious and unsure about which groups suit you best.

It’s no surprise that recruiters from nearly every field value meaningful extra-curricular experiences throughout university when considering applicants for jobs and internships during recruiting season. Extra-curricular activities are far from being a simple “add-on” to underscore a resume; in fact, active club involvement provides a useful opportunity for you to showcase your personal and professional interests, abilities, and commitment when applying for summer positions. For many of us, a proven extra-curricular track record provides the difference needed to stand out as an exceptional candidate for a highly sought-after, competitive summer position.

With all of this in mind, a crucial question asked by many incoming students is: which clubs will enable me to gain the skills, knowledge, and network necessary to kick-start my future career?

Western Founders Network recently had the opportunity to interview four executive members who had notable jobs and internships this summer. We spoke with them to better understand how they secured their positions, what they gained from their work, and hear the advice they’d give to help you in launching your own career.

Justin Tang: Business Operations at IBM Analytics

Carly Armstrong: Marketing at Blackberry

Zain Hemani: IT Security at Workplace Safety and Insurance Board

Justin Ford: Market Risk at CIBC


JUSTIN TANG

BUSINESS OPERATIONS AT IBM ANALYTICS

Justin Tang, Co-Founder and Chairman of Western Founders Network, is an HBA Candidate at the Ivey Business School. He is currently on a one-year leave of absence working as a member of the Business Operations team for IBM Analytics, a company with a rich history of being a pioneer in the tech industry. Justin works closely with financial analysts and operations managers from across IBM worldwide to report on the analytics business lines and oversee labour resources involving several hundred-million dollars annually. Justin is also responsible for the design and implementation of Business Intelligence (BI) Dashboards used for uncovering new insights and providing live metrics on the business’ performance. His reports are heavily relied on by VPs and senior management to make strategic decisions.

In what ways have extracurricular activities at Western benefited you and helped you prepare for or land your internship?

Academics are only part of the story. It’s whether or not you are passionate about your work. Being part of an amazing group such as Founders Network definitely helped me gain a lot of valuable experiences outside of the classroom. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with an amazing team of people towards a common goal — to make tech and entrepreneurship more accessible on Western’s campus. We’ve worked closely together as a team to organize events, conferences, and foster new partnerships. These experiences have definitely helped polish up my soft skills for the real world.

What are some of the biggest benefits of working on the Business Operations team at IBM Analytics?

You get to work from day one — you don’t fetch coffees. You are a valuable member of the team, and eventually, you will probably become an expert in the subject area you focus most on. Even full-timers will come for your expertise and help. You are given a lot of support for the work you need to accomplish, and a ton of autonomy for what you want to achieve during your time here. Not many internships put you in the driver seat from day one.

What career advice would you give to your fellow members of Founders Network?

Get involved. Take advantage of every opportunity you can, contribute as much as you could, and be passionate about your work. You will find the process extremely rewarding, and it will teach you more than you could learn by just taking classes. In fact, I’d argue that most of the stuff you would learn in your undergraduate years will be through your involvements in clubs and student groups.


CARLY ARMSTRONG

MARKETING AT BLACKBERRY

Carly Armstrong, VP Marketing of Western Founders Network for 2015/16, is entering Ivey Business School this year as an HBA Candidate. This summer, she worked as a Sales and Marketing Intern at Blackberry within the company’s Enterprise Division. Carly’s position challenged her to perform countless roles ranging from forecasting financials to the President of Global Sales to organizing and executing events for the company. She was directly involved with the planning and implementation of Blackberry’s sponsorship of events such as the Joe Carter Classic Tournament, even being lucky enough to meet celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Wayne Gretzky in the process.

In what ways have extracurricular activities at Western benefited you and helped you prepare for or land your internship?

Clubs like Founders Network showed recruiters that I am able to manage my time and keep up with a busy workload. For the sales and marketing aspects of my job, they needed to be certain that I was passionate about technology. Nobody sells something well if they don’t understand it or believe in it, so seeing I was heavily involved in Founders Network assured them that I was interested in the tech industry and eager to learn more about it.

What were some of the most important skills and lessons you learned from your internship at Blackberry?

One of the best things about my job was that I really didn’t have a set routine! I was constantly changing projects and adapting to what the company needed me to do, and I see that flexibility as a valuable skill.

I was always exposed to these incredible leaders that were just inspirational to be around. Nothing gives you a drive in business to succeed like being around truly motivated people such as the ones I met at BlackBerry. I learned to keep up with a remarkable network of people and my memories with them will last a lifetime.

Finally, it was inspiring to be around innovation. Working at Blackberry made me realize that the tech industry is where I want to be — somewhere fast paced where every company involved is looking for the next big thing.

What career advice would you give to your fellow members of Founders Network?

Internships are in incredibly high demand, so apply early and everywhere, and put on your game face from day one! When you land a position, get the most out of it by being eager and willing to take on anything and everything. The contacts that you meet in just a few months at your job can make a remarkable difference in your future career, so give networking your all.


ZAIN HEMANI

IT SECURITY AT WORKPLACE SAFETY & INSURANCE BOARD

Zain Hemani, Co-President of Western Founders Network for 2015/16, is entering his third-year as a Computer Science student. This summer, he worked as an IT Security Specialist for the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Zain took part in multiple programming-related projects for WSIB, including the development and implementation of his own personally constructed database programs and scripts that are now being used by WSIB employees throughout Ontario on a daily basis.

In what ways have extracurricular activities at Western benefited you and helped you prepare for your internship?

Being part of Founders Network showed me the growing possibilities within the field of technical consulting and information technology. The club connected me with industry professionals who helped me with my application process and gave me tips and tricks to succeed in the IT industry. Founders Network does a great job of not only showing students how to code but showing them the importance of learning how to code for the future. The Educationals are an excellent opportunity for students with limited programming experience to greatly improve their abilities within the span of just one semester.

What were some of the most important skills and lessons you learned from your work with WSIB?

Before this summer, I had no experience in the field of IT applications. I knew how to program, but I didn’t know how to apply any of my coding skills to real world scenarios. These past four months turned out to be extremely challenging yet an incredible learning experience. I took on four projects within the span of four months, each entirely different from the one prior; these projects taught me more about how to constantly adapt to face the challenges ahead of me.

What career advice would you give to your fellow members of Founders Network?

Think of your career as a series of experiences. Try new things and be a life-long learner because it goes a long way in expanding your worldview and opportunities.


JUSTIN FORD

MARKET RISK AT CIBC

Justin Ford, former Director of Sponsorship for Western Founders Network, is entering Ivey Business School this year as an HBA Candidate. During the summer, he worked as an analyst in Capital Markets Risk Management at CIBC in Toronto. As a member of this division, Justin was responsible for both assessing the financial risks surrounding major corporate holdings and ensuring regulations were being followed on the trading floor — reporting his findings and analysis directly to CIBC’s Chief Investment Officer.

In what ways have extracurricular activities at Western benefited you and helped you prepare for or land your internship?

Market Risk Management has many different aspects to it; on my team, I was expected to be able to work well in a group, communicate effectively, and be capable of developing new ideas and improve upon those of others. I had a great opportunity to practice all of these skills through Founders Network because of all of the different activities the club offers. Two things that specifically helped me were the club’s case competitions and coding workshops. They prepared me for some of the more unexpected tasks I had and gave me a lot more confidence stepping into the corporate world.

What were some of the most important skills and lessons you learned from your internship at CIBC?

The biggest thing I gained from this internship was the first-hand knowledge of how the financial sector operates in practice. Before the summer, I was studying financial modelling through classes at Western. As soon as I started working at CIBC, I quickly began learning about things that aren’t necessarily talked about in the classroom; things like company culture in banking, the process of organizing your findings for management, and so forth. I learned about the balance necessary between my university education and my real-world experience; without both, it’s much more difficult to tell if you really enjoy what you’re doing enough to pursue a career related to it.

What career advice would you give to your fellow members of Founders Network?

It’s always a great idea to pursue internships relevant to your program or in a field that you want to be involved with. During my time at CIBC, I learned about more than just risk; my educational interests were a launching pad towards banking, and working in the field this summer gave me a chance to directly see what it has to offer, make industry connections, and figure out what aspects I liked and which I didn’t. Internships are an amazing learning experience and will put you at a great advantage — no matter what you’re interested in!


Check out the Founders Network booth during USC Clubs Week from September 14th to 18th at Western. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more career tips, advice, and industry spotlights to come from our Blog on Medium.