From a student’s first days in college, the idea of deciding what to do after college can seem like a daunting task. Whether they have a specific position in mind or just a general area of study they’re interested in, it’s up to each student to to use their four years taking advantage of diverse and exciting opportunities to help guide what their career will look like after they earn their degree.
We checked in with these recent intern program graduates to learn about their decision-making process when choosing their first step after college – and to discover how their time at Nelnet has helped where they are now.
- Ellie Geise, Technical Sales Recruiter at Apex Systems
- Megan Boyle, Tech Financial Analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co
- Jack Rowen, Software Developer I on the Nelnet Business Services Infinity team
- Derek Moore, Software Engineer on the PaymentSpring Gateway team
- Connor Castleman, Referral Partnership Specialist at Franchise FastLane
What was most important to you in your decision-making process when choosing a full-time role after graduation?
Ellie: The most important thing to me while going through the interview process was looking at which position was going to provide me with the most growth. Being fresh out of school, I knew that I had a lot to learn and a lot of growing to do, and I was eager to do so. I went with the opportunity that I knew would challenge me the most with the managers who were excited to help me get to where I wanted to be.
Megan: I really wanted to choose a job that would challenge me, and I also wanted to move to a new city (I did!). I knew I wanted to work at a larger bank to start off my career because the experience is valuable!
Derek: A good team was the most important to me. I understood that a good team culture is hard to come by and, during my internship, I developed friendships with my coworkers. I knew that I needed to stay to continue working with people I enjoyed spending time with. Also, because of my internship, I understood exactly what was expected of me if I accepted the offer, since I was doing real work that a full-time associate would do.
How did your internship at Nelnet help shape what you wanted to do after graduation? How has it helped you in your current role?
Megan: The mentorship at Nelnet is phenomenal. I worked for some of the best managers, who invested in me as an individual. Nelnet gave me a foundation for what to expect in a full-time role. I was treated like a young professional and always felt valued. Transitioning into my current role, I have been upfront about what resources I need to be successful. I also still ask a ton of questions!
Jack: The internship showed me how extensive Nelnet has been, working on their software products. Stepping into the team was a little daunting because of how big the project is. However, the internship did prepare me well to step into my role.
Connor: Being a part of the Pathway program allowed me to become more self-aware about what I enjoy in a job role. Furthermore, Nelnet did a great job offering educational opportunities, especially to interns, through lunch & learns, guest speakers, and out-of-office activities. I couldn’t be more grateful for some of the experiences Nelnet gave me when I was a part of their team.
What is the biggest thing you have learned since starting your full-time role?
Ellie: While I now – six months later – have a good grasp on my job and am seeing success, I think the biggest thing I learned is that it is totally okay to not know what you’re doing all the time. I’ve learned the value of asking a LOT of questions, because it is truly always just better to ask, and, I promise, someone will always answer you. I’ve learned the value of a good challenge. There really is a transition phase from being a student intern to being a true full-time employee, and it’s totally okay to recognize that challenge can be difficult at times.
Derek: I learned that what I accomplished during my internship was useful to the team, and not something that was thrown away. The main project I worked on during my internship actively replaced the current application that was being used, which was a very satisfying accomplishment. I have also learned that work can be something to look forward to, something I did not think was possible before starting my journey with Nelnet.
Connor: One thing I learned was how to reorient myself into an 8 a.m.-5 p.m. job. One great thing about college and being an intern at Nelnet is that you are given the opportunity to bounce between classes, two- to three-hour shifts, and evening activities. On the other hand, when you go full time, most of the expectation is to be available the majority of your work hours on a given day. This makes for a busy 8 a.m.-5 p.m. schedule, but a very open schedule in the evenings – which has both its benefits and drawbacks.
What advice do you have for current interns who will be making decisions on what to do after graduation?
Megan: Picture yourself in 5 years: Will this job help you achieve your goals? Ask lots of questions and, if you aren’t scared, you aren’t dreaming big enough.
Jack: Think critically about how the job may affect your life. Will it support a work-life balance you desire? Will you be able to grow your skill set and your career?
Derek: Go with what you feel is best after you graduate – and understand that a good team is hard to come by. If you are on a team that makes you enjoy working every day, do not lose that. Set the bar high early on so you can develop your career surrounded by people who are willing to help.