Interning with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission: Justin Hanks

Penn State World Campus undergraduate student Justin Lee Hanks is completing an internship at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He recently explained to us how he found this unique experience while pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting.

Tell us about your internship. What work have you gotten to do at the SEC?

The team I work with at the SEC has made me feel very welcomed and appreciated. The tasks I am assigned are the same as any other staff accountant. Guidance and support are always available when needed, and people are willing to take the time to share their extensive knowledge. I work with accountants and lawyers who are leading authorities in their field. Because I am able to take classes at the same time, each day I hear vocabulary that I just learned about the night before. It is a continuous reinforcement of knowledge.

How did you choose Penn State World Campus and your major?

I originally moved to Philadelphia to study nursing. I was working on the neurology floor of a hospital when I became absorbed in the quantification and efficiency of daily tasks. I found myself more interested in the data behind the patients and the hospital in general. At that point in my life, I found an affinity for numbers and a great appreciation for nurses. I chose Penn State World Campus because it is flexible and credible.

How did you find out about this internship opportunity?

There is no better place to receive a thorough immersion in the knowledge and language that encompass our sophisticated financial system than the SEC. I hoped for the best and applied to a listing on usajobs.gov.

There are also career counselors available through Penn State World Campus and the opportunity to use Penn State University Park Career Services as well. I encourage students to reach out to Student Affairs to let Penn State World Campus know what other resources they need to be successful.

How do you plan to use your internship experience and your degree?

I recently moved to Vermont where I plan to use the knowledge and experience gained at the SEC to become more involved with the local community. My first goal is to work with the Vermont state government. On the side, I will volunteer my time with families who need help with financial literacy. Eventually, I want to expand this idea to help people around the world.

What has surprised you the most about your internship experience?

There were 130 students accepted into the Student Honors Program with the SEC. As far as I know, I am the only student representing Penn State; however, the majority of the staff I have met at the SEC have an affiliation with Penn State in some capacity. The people who have no association with Penn State are very enthusiastic about our sports teams. There is a vast network of people who want to help current students of Penn State. One of my goals is to advocate for more awareness regarding the resources that are available for student internships.

What advice would you give to online learners who are hesitant about exploring an internship opportunity?

Internships can play a fundamental role in helping students receive job offers after school. People want to help students and undergrads, in particular. I suggest being bold and allowing yourself to make as many mistakes as possible. Learning from these mistakes when you are a student will help you become a valuable employee. There is funding available to pay for internships around the world. Do your research and “think outside the box.”

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