Testing Problem Solving Skills

Testing Problem Solving Skills

Last fall, Albion swimmer Nick Smith, '18, spent more than 100 days travelling to places including Greece, Italy, Morocco, and Brazil on a Semester at Sea.

Though other summer work experiences in past years have taken Smith to Ann Arbor and Washington, D.C., it's not hard to learn why Smith accepted a summer internship with Dow, a global company based in his hometown of Midland, Mich.

This experiential learning opportunity has the public policy and finance major working on a cost accounting project.

"On a daily basis I am in communication from people all over the world and it is pretty cool," Smith said. "Even though I work at the company headquarters, a lot of the people I have meetings with work in Texas, Louisiana, Brazil, Columbia, Germany, Spain, or other locations around the world."

While Smith started the internship without much academic preparation in cost accounting, and that has provided a real life example of developing problem solving skills, he said the culture at Dow gives its employees opportunities to succeed.

"The challenge is that I am a finance major working an accounting internship. I have taken a couple of accounting classes, but never a cost accounting class," Smith said. This caused me to get off to a slow start, especially considering I not only had to learn the basics of cost accounting on the fly, but I also had to learn the ins and outs of Dow's accounting system which is crucial to my project.

"Dow has a very inviting culture that focuses on developing individuals to ensure that they are provided everything they need to have a successful career," he added. "Never have I worked somewhere in which everyone is so willing to help you learn, whether you are an intern like me, or have been there for 10 years. On top of that it seems like everyone is willing to offer advice or talk to you about their time here at Dow.

"The content that you learn during college is not what is most important, but rather the skills and abilities that you learn along the way (that will determine the course of a career)," he concluded. "You will never go into a job knowing everything you need to do that job well, but if you have acquired the skills you need to learn things quickly, problem solve, and think critically then you will be successful."

As he begins his senior year at Albion, Smith said he's proud of how his experience at Dow affirmed the belief in his problem solving skills and made him more versatile as he comes ever closer to completing his undergraduate career.

"I have always described myself as a problem solver, and this internship really put me to the test," Smith said. "Coming into a project in a field outside my major, and being asked to find the problem and provide possible solutions, has been challenging. The challenge has been worth it though and has really shown me how much of a strength my problem solving abilities are.

"This internship has helped with my educational goals by giving me an experience that is outside of my specific field of study," he added. "As a finance major, having an accounting internship and more accounting knowledge under my belt makes me more versatile and will be very useful later on in my career."

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