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Meet Eric Skoro '13, STAR, LLC
Meet Eric Skoro '13, STAR, LLC

 

Commit yourself to constant growth and development when searching for internships. Continue to network, develop your soft skills, and build your skill set. Attract employers by showing them how you can add value. Those are a few of the strategies Eric Skoro, 2013 PSU School of Business alum, applied in giving him a competitive edge once he began applying for full-time positions upon graduation. By doing this, his internship search wasn’t focused on short-term benefits (i.e. compensation) but rather long-term benefits like experience. Eric’s story is an example of how focus and commitment to long-term goals help prepare you for internship success and beyond. After graduating with a double major in Accounting and Finance, Eric gained an opportunity within his first year at his firm to be the Pacific Northwest Representative on their National Tax Staff Advisory Council. Following this, he received an opportunity to move to the east coast and is now a representative for the New York advisory council, helping to influence and develop tax strategy in the United States.

Where did you intern? Tell us about the company. 
I had one internship in an unrelated field and another “internship-like” experience that developed into a job I had for my last two years at PSU.

My “internship-like” experience was at STAR, LLC, which is the premier technical asset recovery organization in the Pacific Northwest. The regional firm focuses on technology and art restoration from smoke, fire, and water damage as well as data recovery from computers involved in such events.

I began with the firm as a computer technician but later moved to become the Accounts Manager as I progressed in my education. This is where I gained the most experience for the field I ended up going into.

My internship in the unrelated field was for the Oregon University Systems Chancellor’s office, which carries out goals, initiatives and statewide higher education responsibilities governed by the Oregon State Board of Higher Education.

What did you do or enjoyed doing at your internship? 
My overall responsibilities while working with STAR included roles related to accounting, IT, marketing, client services, and developing new and developing new and improved company processes/procedures.

At the Oregon University Systems Chancellor’s office, I worked directly with the Chief of Staff and worked on marketing, outreach, and social media relations for Oregon Social Business Challenge at which the Keynote speaker for the event was Muhammad Yunus, with speeches from Governor John Kitzhaber and Mayor Sam Adams.

What I enjoyed the most at my internships was cultivating relationships and feeling like I created an impact. I feel the best about the work I do when I’ve made a difference and add value (whether it was completing a part of a project or creating a process improvement- adding value can be done in many different ways).

How did you find the internship (a huge question other students have)?
I found my internship with the Oregon University Systems through networking with professors and building relationships with my classmates. My Business Ethics Professor reached out to me with the internship opportunity a few terms after I had completed her class. This really goes to show how important it is to not only make a good impression with others, but an impression that lasts.

I received my role as an accounts manager with STAR because I was internal with the company as a computer technician and I wasn’t afraid to ask for opportunities. I encourage others to be bold in this way. I made the organization well aware of what I was going to school for and how I wanted to grow. By being a reliable and responsible employee, they allowed me to slowly ease into the accounting role.

How far in advance did you begin your search for internships?
I began to search for opportunities my sophomore year. Having said that, I wish I had started earlier. If I had begun my search while I was a freshman, I could have been much more adventitious with my time.

What in particular were you looking for in an internship?
I was looking for experiences to create an impact in my personal and professional advancement. I committed myself to constant growth and development when searching for internships. By doing this…I ended up in internship experiences that required me to be a ‘hands on’ driver for projects rather than experiences that I could sit back and let others take the wheel. I benefited greatly from this.

How did your work in your major help prepare you for your internship?
My internship experiences are where I really got to see the moving pieces in action but the work I did in my major gave me a baseline of understanding to build from. PSU did an incredible job of creating my foundation of technical abilities.

Working in group projects also helped me to prepare for my internship experiences in an incredible way. A news flash for many is that a lot of your future will be spent working in teams. Take my advice, it’s best to embrace group projects now and learn how to be an effective member/leader while working with others. You won’t regret it.

What, if anything, surprised you about this experience?
Building your soft skills are just as important as understanding the technical capabilities required in your field of work. Once you’re in the office to meet others, your soft skills are really what will set you apart from other candidates. If you can’t communicate effectively in an interview that you’ve prepared for, how will your prospective employer identify that you have the potential to communicate effectively while caught off guard with a client? Some of these skills aren’t expected to be developed until later in your career but I was surprised by how far they can propel your future if you’ve developed them early on.

What advice would you give other students considering an internship?
Approach future employers (and life) with the mindset of “What can I offer you?” not, “What can you offer me?” You will have a much higher rate of success when applying for opportunities if the company can identify your eagerness/potential to add value.

Also, if you don’t fully understand what the internship entails at the firm you’re applying for, don’t be discouraged to ask well thought questions. Your future employer won’t be upset with your clear thirst for knowledge. In addition, this shows that you are invested in the field you are applying for (as opposed to just trying to get any job that comes along).

What did you learn while at this internship?

  • Building soft skills is a must
  • Communicate with impact
  • Focus on cultivating relationships
  • Continue to invest time in networking with others
  • Look for opportunities that challenge you and provide the best long term growth

In what ways do you feel this experience benefits you in the future?
When I began applying for full-time positions, my internship experiences are what gave me a competitive edge. By networking, developing my soft skills and building my technical abilities, I was able to land a job in the Portland office of a global accounting firm. I further grew my network and desire to add value, [which has led me to my role now at my firm] as a representative for the New York advisory council. All in all, my experiences have changed the way I’ve grown and I don’t think I would be where I am today without them.

Thank you for sharing your story, Eric. We wish you all the best as you put your experience to work moving forward!

Interested in getting credit for an internship or practicum? Click here.

This series is made possible via reThink PSU grant support.