Monday, August 8, 2016

Alvin: My Internship Experience with Capital One

Alvin in a conference room

A solid goal for every student in college is to get an internship. Experience, money, and wanting to look smart among your friends and peers are all legitimate reasons and concerns.

But these days, with the amount of college students every year, any internship will suffice for students. Desperate times indeed call for desperate measures.

But how many of us actually stop and think about the sort of work environment we want to be in? How many of us place ourselves into a company and imagine working there 40 hours a week? When I started applying for internships, I made a rookie mistake: Not reading about the company. It was when I was not receiving responses from these places that I started to realize I was applying to these places not because I respect their goals and missions but because I wanted a job. The things that actually matter to me are the people, the work, and what the companies’ values are.

When I applied for more internships, I came across Capital One, and one of the values that stuck out to me is bringing out the best in people. Long story short, I did my research and found that this company was where I wanted to work. With the background I had, I applied for the Design Development Program and a few weeks later got an offer.

Indeed, Capital One is not just a banking company, but also a technology company. As a design intern, I have found an appreciation in seeing not only the banking industry, but the world around me differently. Everything around me was designed at some point, and in the company, there is a reason for every design decision that is made – and it all comes back to what’s best for the customer. My interests are focused in research, and I have gotten immersed in a few hands-on projects.

I have been interning here for almost 4 weeks, but I feel like I have been a part of Capital One for a long time. Not because the days are slow, but because every day is different. Every day is a unique conversation, challenge, and opportunity to try something new. 

This is a lot different from college, where some students skip classes on days where they “ don’t feel like going.” When you’re working with a great group of people, you can’t help but bring your best every day, to show your teammates that you’re worthy of the trust they’ve placed in you..

As I’m thinking of content to write about how much I love it here, I realize that I don’t need to. It is more of a feeling, and that’s why it’s difficult to put it in words. I look around my workspace and see that I’m surrounded by so many great people who have passions outside of work, goals for their future, and different perspectives that make them unique.

From setting up my interview in California, interviewing and currently working in Virginia, it has been a pleasant and smooth experience. Everyone here is friendly, and I have created many friendships with other interns in the program. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next few weeks.

- Alvin

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ryan and Kate: HAVE A NACE DAY!

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has an annual event where attendees can network with each other, learn best practices at breakout sessions, and be awed and inspired by keynote speakers like former pro-football player and astronaut Leland Melvin, or founder and CEO of Girls Who Code Reshma Saujani.

This year the conference was housed at the Hilton Chicago where 2800 university professionals, employers, and solutions partners descended. Of those 2800, 1200 were newcomers like ourselves and 4 of our other Capital One Campus Recruiting teammates who attended.

Our plan was to divide and conquer in order to cover as much ground as possible. We broke into groups to cover sessions on topics such as diversity and inclusion, reporting and analytics, campus recruiting best practices and professional development.

We made the most of our time in Chicago by connecting with representatives from our schools, taking in the latest and greatest from technology partners, and leveraging the time for team bonding – including a stop by the Cloud Gate, aka the Bean!

Campus recruiting team at the Chicago bean

We all are excited to be back from Chicago and to share our learnings with the team. We’ve started to set up demos with potential technology partners and further develop our relationship with career services professionals we met. Lastly, we’re looking forward to playing an even bigger role at NACE 2017 in Las Vegas!

-       - Ryan and Kate

Monday, June 6, 2016

Ryan: Diversity & Inclusion

Thanks to the entire African American Network for creating an opportunity for me, along with Executive Committee members to be part of the Diversity and Inclusion Executive Speaker Series sponsored by the African American Network. I appreciate the questions that came in and I learned a lot about what is important to our employees by hearing their questions and seeing their comments.

As I shared, I believe we have continued work to do to create a more diverse workforce and inclusive environment at Capital One. I’m encouraged by some of the grassroots efforts our associates have led to kick off new programs like EAGLE (East Asian Growth and Leadership Effort) and WALDI (Women Analyst Leadership Development Initiative) and I hope more of these associate-led initiatives take flight this year.

I feel strongly that leaders – and that includes me – need to encourage open conversations focused on both diversity and inclusion especially as part of our people practices like recruiting, talent development, training, stretch assignments, etc.

I invite you to join me in supporting our guiding principles of Connect, Educate and Empower.

-Ryan Schneider, President, US Card

Note: This was adapted for external audiences from an internal blog posted on 03/2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

Sarah: NSBE National Convention 2016

When Capital One associates in Talent Acquisition and our Technology and Business organizations go back to college campuses to recruit, often they partner with school chapters of national organizations like Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). This year, in 2016, Capital One Campus Recruiting is extending our partnership from the local level to the national level to support our goal to hire diverse and representative classes for our Campus Programs.

A major part of working with national organizations is attending their national and regional conferences to engage directly with members and attendees. My team is looking at the calendar now to decide where will be going in the fall when many conferences happen, but we already checked our first national conference off of our list in March: the NSBE National Convention 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.

This year the NSBE Convention had record attendance – over 11.5k – and half of the attendees were current college students. Eight associates, including myself, represented Capital One at the Career Fair, a Hackathon, and a Senior Executive Leadership Forum. Over the course of three days, we chatted with hundreds of Engineering students and professionals from all over the country.

Students who previously met us on their campuses before and excitedly came by to say hello. On the opposite end of the spectrum, many students were intrigued by our presence at an Engineering event. What role do Engineers play at Capital One? Our answer: Engineers throughout the company solve big problems, build intuitive products, and are changing how banking works.

Many of the recent engineering graduates we hire start in our Technology Development Program or our Product Management & Analytics Program. Although we were approaching the end of our spring recruiting season in March, we were excited to hire numerous students we met at NSBE into full-time roles and internships.

The work of organizations like NSBE, SWE, and SHPE helps promote diverse workforces and inclusive environments in Engineering and STEM fields. After a fun, exciting, and successful event in Boston, I’m eager to attend more conferences this fall.

- Sarah

Monday, May 9, 2016

Laura: Conceptual vs. Experimental Innovation

So, as an innovator, are you more like Albert Einstein or Martin Luther King?   

It's not as strange a question as you might think. We've been talking this week about the book "Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World", by Adam Grant.  Today we pick up Grant's discussion of how new ideas actually come about.

While we all have the image of new ideas arriving as a bolt of lightning, many innovations are the result of years of experimentation.  I bet you can think of examples of each kind. 

On one hand, Einstein's key insight into the theory of special relativity came from a burst of inspiration.  He was riding on a streetcar and thinking about what would happen if his train travelled at the speed of light.  (Something that I admit is NOT what I am thinking about when I'm on Amtrak.)  This thought problem triggered an insight, and while Einstein remained creative throughout his career, Grant reports that toward the end of his life, Einstein actually struggled with accepting new ideas, like quantum physics.  So that is one model of the creativity, the conceptual innovator, well known by the signature "Eureka!"  moment.

This is in contrast to Experimental Innovators, who "Test and Learn."  In an example that I've never seen unpacked before, Grant uses Martin Luther King's approach to writing the "I Have a Dream" speech as an example of how years of speaking about civil rights led to the creativity and one-of-a-kind impact of Dr. King's words: 

"Despite being just thirty-four when he gave his "dream" speech, it was his twentieth year of speaking publicly about civil rights.  At fifteen, he made the state finals for delivering an original speech on civil rights".  

Is there any greater way to refine your approach than twenty years of struggling to convince numerous audiences?  Clearly, it was a long road that led to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and a true innovator who spoke to the nation that day.

In virtually every field, experience informs innovation.  Experimentation is the backbone of scientific discovery.  Even Picasso said "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist."  You get the feeling that Picasso knew just which rules to break to give his art the jolt of the new.

So, are you looking for a Eureka moment, or using your experience to gain new insight?  It looks like, either way, you are in very good company. 

- Laura  

Monday, May 2, 2016

Jenny: My First Offer Accept

I was driving down I-95 headed out for vacation after delivering my first employment offers to our summer interns.  I was nervous and walked into each conversation with a scripted delivery of the details of the offer.  But I hadn’t scripted what would come next. 

My phone rang.  An Ohio number.  It had only been a few hours and some miles of driving, but one of my Buckeyes was calling to accept his offer.  He relayed the details of sharing his news with his parents.  “My mom asked me if I’d accepted and I said no, that I needed time to think about it…she asked me what I had to think about!”

I think I babbled something into the phone.  “Ok, sure, I’ll get paperwork drafted up so you can…uh…accept your offer.”  {That’s not really how it works.  And I know now that all I have to do is click a few buttons, trigger an electronic document, and you “sign” away!}  But this was my first set of offers and my first-ever accept!

Fast forward nearly 2 years.  My first accept is now preparing for his second rotation in the Analyst Development Program.  We caught up over lunch and his offer story came up in conversation.  Our work doesn’t overlap.  And we don’t even work in the same building.  But through the power of instant messaging and locally sourced, organic greens, our relationship with our candidates doesn’t have to end at “accept.”

Looking forward to getting to know our new crop of interns this summer!  

- Jenny

Monday, April 25, 2016

Jenny: What I learned from my first Hackathon

Want to be inspired, humbled and embarrassed in the span of 28 hours? Attend a hackathon. I am woefully technically incompetent.  Last week I celebrated the victory of creating a bar graph in a spreadsheet without assistance.  And my fix for any technical glitch is to press the reset button.   We all have our strengths – homemade chocolate chip cookies are mine – but this weekend I got to join our Tech team as they participated in UNC’s Pearl Hacks, an all-female hackathon.

The Top 7 Take-aways From My First Hackathon:

7.  Our Technologists are super cool people
I felt like an outsider.  But, with patience and a smile, our Tech team gladly broke down big tech ideas for my brain.  I strolled the hackathon late Saturday night to check in with everyone and I found one of our Technologists working diligently beside a small team of hackers.  They may speak a different language, but Capital One Technologists get along with everyone!

6.  Capital One IS a tech company
Given my role, I don’t see the coding and innovation and tech conversations happening behind the scenes.  As a Capital One card holder, however, I feel the benefits.  Working with our technologists this weekend, I got to feel their passion behind our digital transformation. 

5.  Caffeinate.  Over caffeinate if you have to.
Do hackathons have an official coffee sponsor?  They should.

4.  There are a zillion ways to solve a single problem
With 24+ hours, unlimited tech support, and free candy/carbs/coffee, the hackers created 50 unique projects.  Not quite a zillion, but 50 cool ideas is a great start!

3.  Kids these days
I remember my family unwrapping our first computer on Christmas morning in the early 1990’s.  I say “unwrap” but there was no wrapping involved.  This thing was a clunker that would have consumed a full roll of wrapping paper if my parents had even dared to tackle the desktop that my sister and I used to “paint” and explore the American frontier.  Kids these days have technology coursing through their veins.  It’s the language they use to communicate, the knowledge they absorb, and the presents they unwrap under the Christmas tree.  The next generation will grow up having access to technology, information and devices I couldn’t have dreamed of.

2.  Nessie is a monster
I love a conspiracy theory.  And Nessie, Capital One’s hackathon API, offers a monstrous amount of data that hackers can use to “reimagine banking.”  That’s fact.

1.  The future is bright

I met brilliant high school students this weekend.  I watched college students design projects Capital One could implement for customers.  With only a few college-level coding classes under their high tech gadgety belts, these students will innovate beyond boundaries that limit us today.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with – and I can’t wait to return to Pearl Hacks next year!