We are thrilled to have our next interview with Christian Rhally, a student at Yale and a member of the Student Reporter team. Christian was nice enough to share his experience and story with us in order to help other FirstJob members who are facing graduation and need a bit of advice and support. Make sure to read his interview and visit the websites for the organizations he supports. This interview is a great one so make sure to share with anyone you think would enjoy it!
Tell us a little about yourself and what you are currently doing - give us a brief bio.
I’m currently a third-year student at Yale University majoring in Economics, with a strong interest in business research, corporate social responsibility, and everything related to China. As I grew up in Switzerland and have family in Chile, I have the chance to speak fluent Spanish, French, English, and German. In addition to these languages, I am currently studying Mandarin Chinese at Yale and hope to work in China in the future. At Yale, I’m currently the Co-Director of the LEAD Program of the Yale Leadership Institute and the Director of Outreach for China Hands, a magazine on US-China relations and Chinese affairs. A year ago, I also co-founded InspireYale, a student organization that promotes wellbeing and creativity at Yale and in New Haven.
What made you choose the degree you obtained or are obtaining?
Traveling is an essential part of my life and has had a great influence in the direction of my studies and of my potential career. Between high school and college, I travelled and volunteered to teach English in an orphanage in India, and also volunteered in Chile, where I built houses for the poor. These first-hand experiences with poverty led to a sort of existential crisis in me; I had planned to study philosophy and modern (or ancient) Greek, but now I saw that I could not make the impact I wanted with such a career. Becoming aware of the poverty in countries like India guided me towards business and economics, so I could make a more concrete impact in the future, and hopefully in developing countries as well.
What was your most recent internship? Did you find the position through networking? Online? School guidance?
My most recent internship was at the IE Business School in Madrid, Spain. There, I interned at the Center for Nonmarket Strategy, where I worked on the publication of a business case with a Professor (the case should be published in the next year or so). I heard about the internship through Yale’s career network, and met with a Professor at the Yale School of Management who used to work at the IE Business School. As I met with this Professor, I was able to learn more about nonmarket strategy, the Center, as well as what my work would look like there. Although the internship was very competitive (since it is only offered to Yale students), the fact that I had met with the Professor at Yale and that I had done research about the subject prior to the interview helped me to finally get an offer.
What was the recruitment process like?
I first applied for the position on Yale’s career network, and had to submit my resume as well as a cover letter. As I was sending these documents, I contacted the employers at IE directly to make sure they had received them, and also to show (again) my strong interest in the position. I was lucky enough to be accepted for the Skype interview (the second round of the application). Again, I prepared as well as I could for the interview, reviewing the information about nonmarket strategy that I could find online, and reviewing my cover letter as well as resume. After a couple of days, I received the offer from IE, and had about two, three days to decide. As I knew that it was one of the most interesting opportunities I was applying for, I accepted the offer.
Is your current career/school focus different from what you originally planned to do when you graduated high school?
Yes, it is completely different. Even though I was studying many different subjects in high school (such as the usual ones in Switzerland like Math, French, German, etc), my main focus was on Ancient Greek, Latin and Philosophy. At that time, I thought I would study Classics (or even International Affairs) in college/university, but my ambitions and focus evolved over time, especially as I was taking a gap year between high school and college. In the end, it was traveling that confirmed my academic direction.
What piece of advice have you learned from a job or internship that you'd want to pass on to a graduating Yale student that they wouldn't learn in class?
Well, there are first a couple of obvious things. For example, place as much effort as you possibly can in your new role, be sure to be clear with your employer what the job description and responsibilities are, and do the best you can during the internship in order to receive a good letter of recommendation (do not forget to write a thank you email/letter).
However, there are questions that you can think about before, during, and after the internship, and that will greatly help you make the most out of it. Before the internship, make sure you plan ahead and ask yourself the following questions: Why do I want to work at this company, and what do I hope to get out of this position? If you can, plan ahead about what other internships/job opportunities this internship will lead to in the future. What internship (or job) do you plan to have after this internship? Finally, give yourself three goals that you want to accomplish by the end of the internship. During the internship, go over your goals from time to time and make sure you are on track to reach them by the end of the internship. Don’t be afraid to connect with your fellow employees and search out valuable opinions and advice that you can apply to your own skills. Finally, after the internship, reflect back on your goals, and see which goals have been accomplished and which ones haven’t. Think about why you reached some goals and why you didn’t reach others.
What piece of advice do you have for people looking for a good internship?
There are two main ways to think about this. First, think about what you like or want to do: What do I want to do on a daily basis? Will I like the day-to-day lifestyle at this company? What is the impact that I want to have as a professional? Will this job allow me to make this impact, or at least go towards it? You can also think about what you would do in life, if you could do anything. Second, think about your strengths and what you do well: What am I better at than most people? What experiences do I have, and how can I apply them to this internship or potential job? Will this internship help me acquire useful skills for my (potential) future job? Finally, think about combining all of this, and ask yourself: how can I combine my interests, skills and the experience to find the particular opportunity that will help me move forward?
Christian is currently studying Economics and Chinese at Yale University, with a strong interest in business research, leadership education, and everything related to China. During his time at Yale, he has founded InspireYale , an organization that promotes creativity and programs on happiness at Yale and in New Haven. He is also a Board Member of the Yale Leadership Institute, where he supervises leadership education to undergraduate students, and the Outreach Director of China Hands , Yale's premier journal on US-China relations. Prior to university, Christian taught English in an orphanage in Pune, India, and worked in micro-finance in Chile. His professional experience also includes an internship at the IE Business School in Madrid, where he co-authored a case study on non-market strategy, and working as a reporter at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, China. Apart from his studies in economics and his research in business strategy, he is passionate about languages and speaks fluent Spanish, French, English, German, and has a good knowledge of Mandarin Chinese. In his free time, Christian enjoys running, dancing to soul and funk music, as well as reading about philosophy and development economics. Please feel free to contact Christian on LinkedIn