Emma Mandarino is a junior on the UGA Equestrian team. She is majoring in Finance and had the opportunity to participate in an internship with Verizon during the summer of 2017.
My summer internship was a big step towards the rest of my life. My previous summers had all been spent doing what I love and am comfortable with: riding horses. Now I was beginning a different stage of my life, taking my first steps into the corporate world by working in Verizon’s Finance Leadership and Development Program. On top of that, the project I was assigned was extremely technical- literally, I was a part of the Technical Accounting team. Two other interns and I were tasked with learning about the new lease accounting standard and figuring out how to implement this new guidance as it relates to all of the leases Verizon holds.
The internship concluded with a 15-minute presentation to Verizon’s CFO and his team of Senior Vice Presidents and other high-level finance executives. At the start of the summer, the presentation didn’t intimidate me. All of my life I had been in the spotlight through riding as I competed on big stages, so I was naively but sincerely unafraid of the final presentation that was on everybody’s mind. I knew that my experience as an athlete would be an advantage as I took on this new challenge.
To an extent, my thinking here wasn’t wrong, though it was narrow minded. I was right to believe that there would be parallels between my sport and my new job. My manager was similar to a coach in how she guided us and challenged us. My fellow interns were like teammates as we delegated, collaborated, struggled and succeeded together. And walking on stage for the final presentation felt like stepping into the ring to compete. What I didn’t expect, however, was that on top of all of the policy accounting information I learned, I also gained valuable, practical skills. By the finish, it was the presentation strategies that I acquired that shocked me.
We dedicated the last two weeks of the internship solely to perfecting our script and practicing our presentation. It was so much more difficult than I ever expected. When we would do practice run-throughs in front of our manager, other interns and various accounting teams, it was pure chaos inside my brain. It took so much repetition and practice to be able to harness my thoughts and execute the material in a way that would be of a high enough standard for the CFO of a Fortune 13 company. But I got it, and on the last day my team and I delivered a polished, interesting and informative final product in front of the intimidating audience.
I entered the summer thinking that my years and years of riding and competing would help me coast through this incredible opportunity. Now I can humbly say that I come away realizing that the short 9 weeks I spent at Verizon taught me precious lessons about how to be a better competitor, athlete and teammate. Along the way, I learned about preparedness, discipline, communication, public speaking, and other skills that I can’t even articulate. In the end, I’m left feeling satisfied that my two worlds of sport and work are symbiotic; they are working together to prepare me for my future.