2Y Spotlight: Summer stories

After spending a year in the “Wharton bubble,” 2Ys put their learnings into test in the “real world.” The Wharton internship experience, like the student body, is quite diverse. Below is a snapshot of the summer experiences of five Wharton women who worked in industries ranging from technology to construction to auto. These are their stories.

Sisi Messick, WG ’17

Industry: Technology

Company: Apple

What did you do this summer?
I interned at Apple on the retail technology team. I had two main responsibilities, collaborate with engineering and marketing teams to create two new internal web and mobile applications and identify opportunities to improve the quality and efficiency of our software development process.

What was your biggest challenge?

Trying to convince engineers to try a new process was very difficult since people can be very resistant to change. Ultimately, I was able to demonstrate through my research and data that a change in our software development process could pay huge dividends in lowering the number of defects and increasing our throughput.

What have you learned about yourself through your summer experience?

I learned that I may not always get it right at the first time, but I’m thick-skinned enough to keep trying. At the beginning of my summer, I interviewed somebody for my research project and was very frustrated when that person told me that she didn’t see any value in my project. I curled up at home that weekend and cried. But then Monday came around, and I went back to the drawing board to rethink my project and realized that I could expand my scope to be something truly ambitious and exciting, not just for my team, but for all the internal software development projects at Apple Retail. I went back to that same person and asked if I could pitch my project to her again. She loved it.

Wharton interns at Apple company-wide beer bash.


From left to right: Brian Freilich, WG ’17, Jennifer Choi, WG ’17, Sisi Messick, WG ’17, Kyul Ko, WG ’17, Sneha Aleti, WG ’17.

Rachel Grant, WG ’17

Industry: CPG

Company: Unilever

What did you do this summer?

This summer I worked at Unilever on the body lotion team. My project focused on looking at a specific type of body lotion and understanding how our competitors were winning in that market and what we could do differently to increase our sales.

What was your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge for me was seeing how much institutional knowledge everyone at the company had about the products and industry and not always understanding where I should even begin. Being new to the CPG industry and the marketing function, I sometimes felt like I was constantly playing catch up. 

What have you learned about yourself through your summer experience?

I learned that I work well with people who are direct and straightforward, but that I also really value the team environment. The role lent itself to working with a variety of cross-functional teams, and I had to be very straightforward with them about what I needed from each team. It was important to help maintain a strong team environment so that each member would want to continue to help. 

Rachel at the Magnum ice cream (Unilever brand) pop-up shop in SoHo.  


Pictured: Rachel Grant, WG ’17.

Katie Blach Ellington, WG ’17

Industry: Construction

Company: Blach Construction

What did you do this summer?
I worked as an Assistant Project Manager for my family business, Blach Construction. We are a mid-sized commercial builder headquartered in the Bay Area. I was on a construction site all summer, working on renovations for five schools in a district. I was managing the financials and schedule of the projects as well as our relationship with the school district, architect, engineers, neighbors, and subcontractors.

What was your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge this summer was exercising patience with the owner and architect on the project. Throughout the summer, it felt like we needed to meet three or four or five times to get them to make a final decision on a design element or an added cost. It was frustrating because we had an extremely tight schedule, given that we needed to open the schools in August. 

What have you learned about yourself through your summer experience?

This summer confirmed that I love working in close-knit team environments! I learned this summer that I do a good job of fostering camaraderie, building consensus, and mediating conflicts.

Katie and Co-worker On Site in San Francisco Bay Area.


Left to Right: Katie Blach Ellington, WG ’17, Sushma Bana.

Zoe Hoster, WG ’17

Industry: Automotive

Company: General Motors

What did you do this summer?
I worked in the urban mobility group at General Motors in Detroit. GM is expanding beyond its traditional business of making and selling cars and trucks; the urban mobility group works on developing new transportation options that don’t require owning a car. 

My focus was on GM’s partnership program with Lyft, called Express Drive. GM rents vehicles to people who want to be Lyft drivers but don’t own suitable vehicles. I worked on operations as we expanded Express Drive from two to six cities over the summer and developed a strategy for adding the electric Chevy Bolt to the fleet. With this program, we are helping build the infrastructure to support the introduction of driverless cars.

What was your biggest challenge? 
Driving a car to work! I hadn’t driven much in years, and I’ll admit that I wasn’t the best driver to begin with. Besides that, it was a challenge to go from knowing everyone in the company, as I did in my work in tech startups before Wharton, to getting my head around the many teams and divisions within General Motors.

What have you learned about yourself through your summer experience?
I am working on developing my leadership style to convey more gravitas. My colleagues appreciated my enthusiasm and personable nature, but I learned that that can come off as “young” in more formal settings. It’s a tendency that I think many professional women face challenges with.

Zoe Doing Some Field Research!


Pictured: Zoe Hoster WG ’17.

Jen Wong, WG ’17

Industry: Investment Banking / Investing

Companies: RM Global / Excelsior Group

What did you do this summer? 
My “summer” hasn’t ended yet! I spent eight weeks in Tel Aviv with RM Global, a boutique bank focused on life sciences, and eight weeks in Nairobi with Excelsior Group, a healthcare investing and advisory firm. I’m still in Nairobi, wrapping up work and doing research for my independent study. I also traveled within Kenya and Israel and to Jordan, Cyprus, the DRC, and Rwanda!

What was your biggest challenge? 
Marathon training while interning. I had to run consistently during the week and 12 to 20 miles on weekends. Running along the Tel Aviv beach is beautiful, and nighttime runs were incredible. In Nairobi, I went on weekend trail runs with a running club. I’d often rush to work with wet hair or leave the office early to run while it was still light out and then log back in remotely. It was daunting to ask to leave the office early or show up late early on, but my bosses understood.

What have you learned about yourself through your summer experience?
I’ve learned my best self is when constantly challenged to learn. I am good with numbers but less so on qualitative aspects. And while I am confident in my networking abilities in English, very basic Hebrew, and limited Swahili, I am less certain about how to quickly engage and build professional credibility in a new environment. Learning this over summer has prompted me to take advantage of more “soft skills” and leadership development opportunities at Wharton.  

Jen Loves Tel Aviv!


Pictured: Jen Wong WG’ 17.


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