Ralissa DeJong completes Meraki internship
When Ralissa DeJong sent in her internship application to the Meraki Honors Program of King’s College, she had no idea that she had just set into motion a series of events that would lead to the summer of a lifetime.
Born and raised in Arizona, DeJong came to visit CSU after a friend recommended the school to her, and she immediately fell in love. She liked the layout of the campus, but what really captivated her heart was the people. The size of the school allowed her to really develop relationships with both her peers and her professors.
“You really get to know students and professors individually,” DeJong says.
Currently in her third year at CSU, DeJong is working toward her undergraduate degree in accounting. This past summer, she worked as an intern at Verisk Analytics, one of the top data analytics companies in the world, and one of Forbes 2018 World’s Best Employers. DeJong was recommended for the internship by Dr. Heather Chadwick, assistant professor of finance and economics, who felt she would be a fantastic candidate for the internship after being impressed with their conversations, as well as her class performance.
“She is very smart, very intelligent, very caring, very passionate, very consistent, and she has a lot of perseverance. She keeps trying, and she works hard; she’s just a very exceptional student,” said Chadwick.
Despite her qualifications, the road ahead would not be easy for DeJong. The Meraki Honors Program only accepted five students this year, and she was going to have to work hard if she wanted to be one of them. In fact, she almost didn’t apply at all, because she was so nervous that she wouldn’t hold up to the competition. Chadwick pushed her to try it, telling her, “if you don’t apply you’ll never know.”
So, she applied, becoming one of the many students vying for the limited space in the internship. The application process was harrowing; first she had to submit a full resume, as well as a short essay, several references, and a video discussing her ambitions and why she felt she was a good fit for the program. Even after she was accepted as a candidate, she then had to go through several more rounds of interviews before she was finally accepted and assigned to a company.
DeJong was accepted to the program in December of 2018, one semester before her summer internship would begin. “She definitely has a lot of humility, and she was so excited, it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it,” Chadwick said.
Once DeJong was in New York, she worked in the Verisk Analytics tax department alongside other interns, working primarily on sales taxes, while also having opportunities to help with audits, reconciliations and refunds. She felt that her time at Verisk served to solidify her plans to work in accounting.
“Working in the accounting department really solidified that yes, I am in the right major and this is something I do want to do as my career,” DeJong said.
In addition to her regular internship work, she and a small group of other interns were responsible for identifying a need within the company and then presenting their solution to the board of executives. DeJong and her team noticed that people within each department knew very little about the people in the other departments, so they created a virtual map which allows anyone in Verisk to click on a cubicle or office and see who works there, their special skills, and even their birthday. This plan is set to be implemented soon.
Also, DeJong was able to be a part of King’s College Faith and Finance course, where each week she heard leaders in finance speak about how their faith impacts their work. Her two favorite presenters were Benjamin Ketwich, of Ketwich Capital, and Andy Mills, Co-CEO of Archegos Capital Management.
“It was eye-opening to see that these powerful men on Wall Street and all throughout New York haven’t let money and greed and all the things you think about when you think about Wall Street get to them,” DeJong said.
Back at Charleston Southern for her junior year, DeJong seems refreshed, with a new energy in the classroom and around campus. Chadwick notes that she has gained confidence, is more willing to speak up in the classroom, and has begun offering to mentor younger students.
DeJong wants to work on a master’s degree in accounting, and then come back to CSU to teach, largely due to the impact her professors have had on her through their mentoring, which has given her a desire to give back. She is actively looking for another internship opportunity in the Charleston area, and Verisk Analytics has offered her an opportunity to return as an intern next summer.
DeJong is grateful to CSU for the opportunities she has had, saying, “Everything about CSU has made my life better.”
Wesley Myers is a student contributor for Marketing & Communication and is a senior majoring in communication studies.