Career Moves: Fast-paced internships with Secret Service, on Wall Street help refine career focus
Hailey Richel '17 found the support she needed from the Student Professional Development Center as she pursued internships that have proved key to her career goals.
Hailey Richel ’17 has seen her internships take her from the tarmac by Air Force One to the hallways of Wall Street, as she’s earned the opportunities to learn the ropes in a diverse range of fast-paced work environments.
But beyond providing the experience of working with special agents at the U.S. Secret Service and financial professionals at The Capital Markets Co., these internships have helped shape and refine the career goals of the senior public policy major from Clifton, Virginia. Now she’s landed a job after graduation that combines her passions for strategic planning and managing human capital.
Richel is the fourth person to be featured this year in a series of profiles on the recent experience of students and alumni who work alongside professionals in the Student Professional Development Center to explore career interests, find jobs and internship opportunities, prepare for interviews, improve graduate school application materials, and more.
Tell me about the company and your role as an intern.
During the summer of 2014, I interned with the U.S. Secret Service, a federal law enforcement agency within the Department of Homeland Security. The Secret Service protects government officials and investigates financial and computer-based crimes including counterfeiting and credit card fraud. As an intern, I was granted a government clearance that allowed me to work closely with special agents. I was able to:
- Rotate through the various criminal and protective squads to become familiar with the tasks performed
- Make field observations while in the various squads
- Perform various administrative duties to include data entry, filing and deliveries to and from our headquarters
- Participate in training exercises for special agents
- Visit the United States Secret Service Training Facility, The White House, Headquarters, The State Department and other Secret Service related sites.
A primary duty was to analyze and organize counterfeit currency to be used as evidence in upcoming criminal trials. One of my more interesting experiences was traveling with other interns and Secret Service agents to Andrews Airforce Base to see the president board Air Force One. It was amazing to see the preparations and details that go into protecting the president.
I also interned at The Capital Markets Co. (CAPCO), a global financial services, business and technology-consulting firm, in New York City in 2015 and 2016. CAPCO works exclusively in the financial industry providing management and technology consultancy to major investment banks both domestically and internationally. CAPCO counts among its current clientele more than 70 percent of the world’s global financial institutions. I was assigned to CAPCO’S Human Capital department where I worked closely with the recruitment team to develop campus recruitment campaigns, strategies and interviewed associate-level candidates seeking employment. I also completed system and program optimizations including a revamp of CAPCO’S on-boarding process for new hires. My long-term project for the director of human capital, involved developing a competitive market analysis with regards to compensation packages, attrition rates, training programs and promotion scales.
How did your interest in the internship develop?
My interest for internships began during my high school years. I interned for Virginia House Delegate Timothy Hugo performing various administrative duties, preparing campaign and policy reports and communicating with constituents in person and via phone. I realized then how important an internship can be by identifying a career path and develop communication skills.
For as long as I can remember, I have had a strong interest in law enforcement. Growing up some of my favorite TV shows were Law and Order and CSI. My law enforcement passion was not only fueled by crime TV, but by a real-life crime fighter — my Dad, a federal agent. Our dinnertime conversations often focused on the details of a recent drug bust, and I played the traditional Go-Fish card game with playing cards that had wanted criminals printed on the back. These events sparked a strong desire to understand law enforcement and the interworking of government agencies.
My time at the Secret Service allowed me to gain a full understanding of the back office operations of a federal agency and perspective about my future career goals. Although law enforcement has always been an interest, my summer at the Secret Service opened my eyes to my true passion — management and human capital. How do agencies successfully run? How do they select their employees? From executing daily tasks to completing long-term goals, how do agencies achieve goals while managing employees?
With this newfound passion in mind, I applied to the cutthroat world that is Wall Street. My next two summers were spent working in human capital at a financial consulting firm in a world where infamous bankers were “hunting elephants”—looking for the next biggest deal on “The Street.” The determination these bankers have is something to be admired, but their daily financial activities were not something I want to do for the rest of my life. With this new personal career discovery, I headed back to the drawing board. A light bulb went off in my head that said combine the two worlds I love — government policy and human capital. I began applying to various firms that focus on government consulting and was recently offered a full-time position as a strategic management consultant with the firm Booz Allen Hamilton upon graduation.
What have you learned from the experience?
Through my internships, I have fully developed and improved my research techniques and my organizational and analytical skills. Both internships involved fast-paced environments, so I learned how to quickly execute assignments without much guidance. I learned to ingest and synthesize large amounts of complex information. I’ve become adept at expressing ideas concisely both verbally and in writing. I have become flexible and understand the importance of time management. In addition to furthering my soft skills, my internships have advanced my hard skills including work with SPSS, Excel, PowerPoint, Bloomberg Terminal and other technologies.
Who did you work with in the Student Professional Development Center to prepare for your internship, and what help did you receive?
I worked with Debby Wall and Pam Brumbaugh, both of whom advised my coursework while interning and assisted with resume and cover letter improvements. They were both amazing mentors and without their help I would not be the professional Elon student I am today.
What recommendations would you share with other students about the Student Professional Development Center?
Take advantage of all the resources at the SPDC! From day one at Elon I was parked in Pam’s office seeking career advice. Their connections and knowledge will help you build your professional network and achieve your professional goals. I have attended a few open houses and have also spoken about my internships to prospective students and parents.
After receiving my acceptance letter to Elon, I attended a spring weekend for accepted students and parents. There were four or five different sessions one could attend. My parents insisted that we attend the internship session held by Pam Brumbaugh and that’s where it all began.
Which faculty members did you work with to prepare and what help did you receive?
Professor Chalmers Brumbaugh in the Department of Political Science and Policy Studies was my first mentor and internship advisor while I was working at The U.S. Secret Service. Professor Brumbaugh was a career role model in the field of policy studies and helped me shape and develop my future professional and Elon careers.