Crystal Seymour, who this summer will work her fifth internship, meets a recruiter at an NJIT career fair.
If an internship is the avenue to a full-time job, than Crystal Seymour is in an enviable position.
Seymour, a senior at NJIT, has already had four internships -- all at major corporations. She has interned at Eaton Corporation, United Parcel Service, L'Oreal USA and Panasonic. And this summer she has a fifth internship lined up at Wall Street’s leading investment bank: Goldman Sachs. She’ll work in Goldman’s Operation’s division, where she’ll learn financial analytics and reporting as well as operations design and data science.
Seymour has come a long way in her young life. When she was a girl, her mother worked for a Wall Street bank -- but as a secretary. Now, a few decades later, Seymour could one day work on Wall Street too: But as a managing director. NJIT is known as an "elevator school," a unversity that helps students scale the socio-economic ladder. And Seyrmour is in the elevator and on the ladder.
“My mom never dreamed that one day her daughter might be on the management track at Goldman Sachs,” she says. “I also never dreamed I’d be in this position.”
Professional success is not a function of dreaming: It’s a function of hard work. And Seymour, like many NJIT students, has a keen capacity for hard work. Moreover, she loves her major -- industrial engineering -- which makes working in the field not a toil, but a joy. And she's confident for the future.
“I graduate soon -- in fall of 2016 -- and I’m hopeful that my internships will lead to a great full-time position,” says Seymour.
In this interview she talks about her major, her internships and her recent marriage to an NJIT grad who, quite naturally, is a fellow engineer.
Did you enter NJIT as an industrial engineering major?
I actually was admitted into NJIT as a communication arts major. But I was friends with a lot of older students and I’d ask them about their majors. I discovered industrial engineering, a field that prepares students to solve problems by applying the principles of engineering science, product and process design, work analysis and operations research. So I ended up switching to industrial engineering. I have loved it ever since.
How do you manage school and work?
My first three years at NJIT I had spent studying by myself due to my internships. And I found that I was working harder than I had to. It was only this semester that I realized I needed to work smarter; and I learned the value of study groups. My advice to students entering college is to find two or three people to study with during freshman year. Do homework with them, eat with them, study with them, because you will find that when exam time comes one of you will know how to solve problem #1; another one of you will know how to approach problem #3; and you will know how to solve problem #2. By the end, you’ll be better prepared for the whole exam.
What do you enjoy about your major?
I have a friend who majors in civil engineering and another who majors in chemical engineering. And every now and then they both say, “Crystal, majoring in industrial engineering was the best decision you have ever made.” I believe they say that because they know my major is so diverse. During my internships, for example, I’ve worked in the areas of power and electricity, consumer goods, packaging and electronics, and now I'm about to work in finance. I feel that my major is the best because I love the subject matter and it doesn't limit me.
Can you talk about your internships?
My first internship was at Eaton Corporation, an electrical company that makes transformers and huge generators. We made generators for companies like Facebook and Google. I worked on supply chain, quality audits and process improvement -- all important areas of industrial engineering. I got this internship during a SHPE (Society of Hispanic and Professional Engineers) conference in Indiana that also hosted a career fair.
Where was your second internship?
My second job was at UPS in NYC. I had a friend there who needed an intern to run reports on how efficient the operation was. I used to get up at 3 a.m. and get to the UPS office and file a report by 6 a.m. I had to document how many packages came in from the previous day and how well the plant processed them. Each day, the facility processed hundreds of thousands of packages and my report detailed how many workers were involved and how many vehicles. My report went to the engineering manager and the district manager. It was a big responsibility since my reports told the story of how much money UPS could have saved if we had a more perfect operation.
Did L’Oreal come next and then Panasonic?
Yes, my third job was at L'Oreal in a manufacturing plant, in Franklin Lakes, N.J. that made skincare and haircare products. It was mostly Maybelline lines of make up. I was a process improvement intern, which meant I evaluated processes in the plant. The idea was to suggest improvements in their manufacturing processes. I got the job at NJIT’s Fall 2014 Career Fair. There, I gave a manager my resume and she called me for an on-campus interview and then an interview at the L’Oreal plant.
And during my fourth internship at Panasonic, in Harrison, N.J., I helped develop engineering solutions for companies that partnered with Panasonic. It was business-to-business sales. I also researched companies that could become Panasonic partners. I liked this internship because it introduced me to a new world of technology.
How did you get all these terrific internships?
A lot of my peers ask me for advice on how I get these interviews and internship offers. I tell them my brutally honest story of switching my major from Communication Arts to Industrial Engineering and not having that perfect 3.0 or 4.0 GPA. I got to admit that even I struggle, but my secret is using my less than perfect GPA to my advantage. I convince the company that I'm hard working, reliable and willing and able to be taught new skills. By the end of our conversations, SHPE conference companies like Kimberly Clark, Intel, Alcoa, Northrop Grumman, and Goldman Sachs all wanted to hire me because I communicated my desire to learn from them.
Finally, how did you get the Goldman internship?
I also got this internship from a SHPE conference -- this one was 2015 in Baltimore. I posted my resume on the SHPE website and a Goldman recruiter emailed me 11 p.m. on a Friday night saying he’d interview me the next day. When I received his email I was at a Pizza Hut with friends. I looked at my phone and just screamed.
So how did the interview go?
I stayed up all night preparing for that interview. I actually interviewed with four Goldman employees. Some asked me easy questions and some asked me hard questions. A month later I received an email saying I got the internship. I screamed again, with happiness!
On the personal front, you changed your last name recently from Gould to Seymour.
I married an NJIT grad named D’Andre Seymour. He graduated in 2014 with a degree in electrical engineering. He has a good job working at Ericsson, a telecommunications firm. He received an internship with Ericcson through meeting a recruiter at the NJIT Spring 2014 Career Fair. He did well on his internship and was offered a job there as an engineer.
So you two are happy?
By the time I graduate I will have worked five internships. I know I’ll get a good offer from one of my firms. And D’Andre already has a top job. We are both grateful to NJIT for giving us solid educations and great career training. And yes, we are very happy.
By Robert Florida (firstname.lastname@example.org