Major: B.S. in Informatics, business cognate, 2016
Hometown: New Albany, Ind.
Internship Advice: Maximize the impact you make.
Growing up in New Albany, Ind., Alex Williams never imagined that someday he would become a cheesehead.
After all, Williams grew up an Indiana guy through and through. He bleeds red for Indiana University. His aunts and uncles went to IU, and he grew up going to IU football and basketball games.
Going to IU for college was a no-brainer, especially since he was interested in business.
But instead of pursuing business, Williams decided on the School of Informatics and Computing. He believed a background in computers would better prepare him for life as a business analyst, and besides, the flexibility afforded an Informatics major allowed him to have a cognate in business while minoring in business as well as entrepreneurship and small business management.
He completed multiple internships early in his college career in accounting and as a business analyst, opportunities he found on his own or through the SoIC Career Fair. For his final internship in the summer of 2015, he went to the Career Fair with a narrower focus.
“I talked to as many people as possible,” Williams says. “I wasn’t just looking for an internship. I was looking for the right internship. Kohl’s really stuck out to me.”
In May 2015 Williams moved to Milwaukee for a 10-week internship as a business analyst for Kohl’s at their corporate headquarters.
“I was on the IT team merchandise planning division,” Williams says. “I was basically researching an Oracle Tool, evaluating everything about it. I had to interview and consult with people from the business side. I talked to people from finance and all different areas to see what they currently do, see how the tool would change it, and see if the pros would outweigh the cons.”
Thanks to his previous internship experiences, Williams went into his work at Kohl’s with a mental list of what to look for. Sure, his work was being evaluated, but he also was evaluating Kohl’s. He liked what he saw.
“It makes sense to see what the IT structure is, what the work culture is like,” Williams says. “I think that was the biggest challenge, but it also was one of the most fun parts. You get to meet a lot of different people and see a lot of different aspects of the company as a whole.”
Williams was also impressed with how Kohl’s treated its interns. The company organized trips to Milwaukee Brewers baseball games, and there were a number of other outings.
“They really incorporated a lot in trying to get you invested in Milwaukee and excited about Kohl’s,” Williams says.
He also liked the company’s focus on having a healthy work-life balance, and Williams was excited to hear Kohl’s would be investing and building their IT department for the future.
“When I speak to people about what to look for when they’re going through the interview or job fair process, I tell them to pay attention to the feel overall of what the company is about,” Williams says. “The company you see and work for right now isn’t the company that will be there in a few years. That’s what they’re recruiting for.”
Williams was happy with Kohl’s, and it’s part of the reason he will be heading back after graduation. Williams accepted a full-time offer from Kohl’s as a business analyst, and he will be returning to Milwaukee.
Williams’ early experiences helped provide him a clear vision of his future. He hopes younger students will jump at the chance to start building their resume early.
“People need to think about this when they are freshmen or sophomores, because that can really put you ahead of the curve,” Williams says. “I know that when you go to the career fair your freshman year, your odds of getting an internship are extremely slim. But if you reach out to people and put yourself into a situation where you’re speaking with business professionals, having those conversations and stretching your comfort zone will really help you when you’re going through the recruiting process.”