Former Intern Q&A: Featuring Alex Rooney & Katie Tsai

In the summer of 2020, eSimplicity launched the HUBZone internship program. The program has expanded to include diverse roles across several departments and teams: Human Resources, Technical Writing, Web Design, Graphic Design, Marketing, Information Technology, and more. To understand how our program has paved a professional path for our interns, we interviewed two previous interns, Alex Rooney and Katie Tsai. Rooney and Tsai were in the first intern cohort and were able to see how the program provided hands-on experience in the field of government contracting. Through their work in the internship program, both women participated in impactful work that furthered eSimplicity’s mission of improving the health and lives of millions of Americans.

Alex Rooney worked in the intern program for 11 months, first as a Human Resources intern and later transitioning into the role of Intern Program Manager. In these roles, Alex took on many responsibilities. For example, Alex implemented engagement activities within the intern team such as one-on-one “Coffee Chats”, progressed the culture of the company through social and volunteer events, and lead interviews for potential new interns. Alex has since become an HR Coordinator at Quora, where she currently works with onboarding, company culture initiatives, and other HR-related tasks. As she explains, her experiences with and mentorship through the eSimplicity Internship Program equipped her with expertise, knowledge, and understanding she needed to succeed in her new role at Quora.

What was your biggest takeaway from the eSimplicity internship program?

Alex Rooney: My biggest takeaway from eSimplicity’s internship program was that drive and passion trump experience in many cases. Going into both roles at eSimplicity, I had little experience in their respective fields, but I was excited to learn and grow. eSimplicity took a chance on me and helped me along the way. They welcomed any questions I had and treated me as an equal. In this environment I was able to flourish and grow both myself and the company.”

Who was your mentor? How did they impact you?

AR: My mentor was Casey Harris, who serves as the Director of Culture and Strategic Partnerships. Casey was an amazing mentor who was always there for every little question, clarification, or idea I had. She trusted me with important projects and pushed me to take initiative and step into leadership roles. Without her, I would not have been able to go from being an intern to running the entire program. She has not only taught me a great deal about HR, but she taught me what it is to be a good leader.

Was there any memorable advice/guidance they gave you?

AR: The most memorable advice I got from Casey isn’t what she said to me, but how I saw her work and interact with people on a day-to-day basis. After six months of helping Casey as an HR intern, it was my turn to step into a management role. As the Intern Program Manager, I would always have in the back of my mind that I wanted to lead like Casey did. She is great at creating a welcoming environment for employees and at encouraging everyone to make the most of the internship and resources available. When I was the Intern Program Manager, I would like to think that I mirrored her managing style in hopes of gaining interns’ trust so that they felt comfortable coming to me with any issues or concerns and so that we could work as a cohesive unit.

What lessons did you learn as an eSimplicity intern? What was your biggest lesson?

AR: I took away a lot of lessons from being an intern at eSimplicity. One lesson I learned is to not be afraid to ask questions. It’s better to ask when you need help than to guess and have to do something over again. The full-time employees and mentors are there to help and are not going to judge you for what you don’t know. This leads into another lesson, which is to build a strong relationship with your mentor/manager. By constantly meeting with them and learning from them, you will always benefit from the internship. My biggest lesson I learned is to take initiative and ask for more. By taking weight off your manager’s workload you are showing that you are a leader who is eager to learn and help. I truly believe this is a big reason I was promoted to running the program.

How has eSimplicity prepared you for your current role?

AR: eSimplicity has prepared me for this role in various ways. First, it has given me the courage to share my ideas and take initiative on projects. Second, it has given me the experience needed to do the job well, such as working on the handbook and culture initiatives. Lastly, eSimplicity has taught me how to work in the remote world and create a work-life balance, which is something I am extremely grateful for in my first full time job.

Katie Tsai worked as a marketing and Graphic Design Intern with eSimplicity from the start of the program in July of 2020 until September 2020. In this role, Katie directed all social media content creation, and created the eSimplicity Instagram page. Katie also took on other roles, including creating a comprehensive brand guide, developing blog posts, and working on a business proposal to promote an artificial intelligence service offering. Now, one year after her internship start date at eSimplicity, Katie provides us insight on how her experience prepared her for her current full-time role as an Audience Growth Coordinator at CNBC.

What was your biggest takeaway from the eSimplicity internship program?

Katie Tsai: My biggest takeaway from the internship program was how to think creatively and efficiently work on a team. One of the biggest advantages of working at a smaller-sized company is that the sky is the limit! When I was there, eSimplicity didn’t have a marketing department so I was able to be really creative in the ideas that I pitched and executed. At the same time, I learned how to work on a team of several other interns and delegate our tasks accordingly in order to achieve the best results.

Who was your mentor? How did they impact you?

KT: My mentor was Carrie Yang-Johnson: eSimplicity’s Director of Business Growth & Proposals. She was an amazing mentor because she was always available to lend an ear when I had any questions or new ideas. I always enjoyed listening to her stories about her career path and getting to know her personally.

Was there any memorable advice/guidance they gave you?

KT: The most memorable advice she gave me (which is also featured in this blog post) was to never give up on your passions. Hearing her stories about her volunteer work inspired me to find new ways to incorporate my hobbies into my daily life.

What lessons did you learn as an eSimplicity intern? What was your biggest lesson?

KT: I’ve learned many lessons from my internship as stated above, such as never giving up on your passions, being creative, teamwork, etc. Above all, I think it comes down to building lasting relationships and being kind and helpful to one another, as my former colleagues have done to me.

How has eSimplicity prepared you for your current role?

KT: I definitely think eSimplicity prepared me for my current role, which is also in marketing, by giving me the opportunity to spearhead their [CNBC] social media and marketing strategy. I’ve brought many skills that I gained from my internship, such as writing succinctly, being organized, and thinking creatively.

We would like to give a big thank you to Alex Rooney and Katie Tsai for reflecting on their internship experience and sharing with us how it has influenced their current professional endeavors. Their insight encourages us to continually grow our internship program in hopes of providing valuable experiences to more students. Interested in becoming an intern? Check out our current openings on our company website.

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Launched in 2016, eSimplicity delivers game-changing Digital Services, Healthcare IT, and Telecommunications solutions.

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eSimplicity

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Launched in 2016, eSimplicity delivers game-changing Digital Services, Healthcare IT, and Telecommunications solutions.

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