Interview Reflections

Bethany Kilgore, Professional Development Coordinator – School of Business

Interview Reflections

For this informational interview, I knew I wanted to interview someone in the International Business field because I plan to concentrate in this area. When it came to finding the person that I was going to interview, I went to my mom for help. My mom works for a global company, Elavon, which is a company that is the link between credit/debit card associations and the customers. Elavon has offices in multiple countries all across the world, so I asked my mom if there was someone that would like to be interviewed for this assignment. I was also hoping that person worked in another country because I am interested in International Business. She told me I should ask, Ailish Penston, one of her fellow coworkers to do this interview. Ailish works as a manager in the Global Association Management & Compliance Department of Elavon. I decided to interview Ailish because she not only works for this global company, but works out of offices in Ireland. She could give me a different perspective on what it is like to work for a global company outside the United States. Once I made the decision to interview Ailish, I contacted her via email to ask if she would like to spend an hour over the phone to answer some questions I had about her job. She emailed me back right away with days and times that she was available, and was excited to speak with me. First, we had initially planned to talk on Tuesday, March 15th at 3:30pm, but we had to change it to Friday, March 18th at 11am because things had come up with her at work.

When it came time for the interview, I was a little nervous at first, but as soon as she answered the phone with a bright and cheer Irish voice, I instantly felt at ease because she was so friendly and excited to do this for me. The overall interview went extremely well and smooth. I learned quite a bit about Elavon, her career path to the position she is today, and advice on what I should do now and later down the road. When I asked her about what she likes most about her job, she told me she loves how every day is different because each has a new set of challenges or goals to be accomplished. A typical day of work for her consists of responding to numerous emails, attending a lot of conference calls, and traveling multiple times back and forth between Ireland and London. I asked her if she would have done things different and advice she would give me in starting my career. She told me that she would not change her path because she was very lucky with all opportunities that came her way, but she would have concentrated more on learning an international language. This is also the advice that Ailish gave to me because it allows for better communications if you have knowledge of the country’s native language. When I asked her about important skills to acquire especially in her career, she responded with being adaptable because the business changes rapidly that it is important to keep up with the changes. Working well under pressure to meet the strict deadlines and having effective communication skills are some other aspects she said were important for this field. She also told me being able to write professional emails and documents is crucial because these are a large part of her every day job. I asked her about the atmosphere or culture of Elavon and Ailish described it as a very positive and supportive one because senior managers will go out of their way to help other out when needed, but they do not micromanage them either. These are just a few of the many things I learned from Ailish about herself, Elavon, and International Business. This experience was very insightful and I truly enjoyed my conversation with her.

Issues Faced

I did not face too many issues in completing this project. The only challenges I had were the changes in time of the interview and having to deal with the time differences between Ireland and the United States. However, we were able to make it work and find a time that was convenient for her and myself. The call itself was problem free and it was a very successful international phone interview.

I feel that this project gave me the opportunity to sort of network myself by getting to know the person I interviewed. Ailish told me if I ever needed anything I should send her an email especially if I was interested in learning more about the other departments that make up Elavon. The educational value of this experience was I learned how I can become better informed with an organization or a field that I may be interested in making a career. I have gained insight about how global/international business takes place and important skills to bring to this kind of field. This project made me think about the potential career path that I might want to take when my four years of college are completed. Overall, I received some helpful information and great advice on things to think about as I work towards obtaining my business degree.

Lessons Learned & Next Steps

I feel that I learned some very important information during this interview with Ailish. One thing that stuck with me was how important, especially in the field Ailish works in, it is to have strong and effective communication skills. Being an international organization, Elavon employs people all over the world and then their employees work with people from a variety of countries. It is extremely crucial that everything is communicated correctly and that everyone is on the same page regardless of the country they work out from and the language they speak. Something else that I learned from this experience is the benefit of learning and knowing another language. Since I am almost positive I will declare an international business concentration, I feel that it is important and useful to have knowledge in another language. Potentially having a minor in another language is something I will definitely have to think about during my professional development especially if I want to have a career that requires me to work with people from other countries. Another thing I learned from this interview was how important it is to be adaptable in your field and workplace. The world, especially the business one, is constantly changing and evolving. If you want to be successful you have to be willing and able to make the changes quickly because the business world will not wait for anyone to catch up. It is important keep up and have knowledge on the current trends as well as being aware of new/future development of the business world.

I do have a plan of action with continuing my professional development throughout these next couple of years. Part of my plan is to network myself more all through next year and for years to come. I will do this by participating in more networking opportunities where I can meet with alumni or attending events that allows me to meet and talk with potential employers. I want to get myself out there and I want to begin to do this more this coming fall. Another thing I want to achieve is obtaining an internship for the summer of 2011. I plan to do this by going to job/internship fairs where I can again meet with potential employers and get my name and resume out there. I will seek assistance and guidance from Jessie Stone He and her extensive network base and knowledge of how to go about obtaining an internship. Using online resources will also help me and my search for an internship and I plan to use them as well. Something else I will do is practice more on my interview, resume and cover letter writing skills in order to be prepared for potential jobs/internships that I will apply for in the near future. For resume and cover letter writing, I will use workshops that are offered by some of the business school organizations that I am involved in. The Career Service Center also has helpful resume and cover letter writing workshops and peer editing/reviewing that I plan to utilize as well. Practicing an interview or answering questions that I may be asked during an interview can be achieved through again participating in workshops Career Services offers to the student body. I can also practice with fellow business school students and faculty to get more comfortable when it comes to answering the questions I will be asked. I have already received some feedback on my resume and I plan to continue that next year and throughout the rest of my life. I hope to work on my cover letter writing and interview skills a lot more next year too as well as for years to come. Most of the items of my plan of action to continue my professional development are things that will be an ongoing process. I want to begin to carry out my plan now and progress throughout my years here and into my life after college.