Two years ago, Michelle Scheuer (pictured right) was a full-time student looking for a flexible, remote internship that would provide meaningful work and take advantage of her experience. At first, she thought the WEX job posting was too good to be true. Not only could she work at home on a custom schedule and still be part of a multi-disciplinary QA team, but she would get to work on real projects that contributed to her learning goals.
Now a full-time software engineer here at WEX, Michelle says her high-quality internship experience was a key element in deciding to build her career at WEX. “I felt like I was a valued team member, and that wasn’t something that I experienced at my previous internship. WEX did an amazing job with a virtual summer internship program, and the team-building events were really fun!”
An example of team building events is featured in the photo above of a virtual painting class, held during the Summer of 2021.
Why WEX invests in our paid internship program
Just like any hire, interns have a job description with specific objectives and deliverables. They participate in the mission-critical work of their department and team.
“There is a big opportunity to make an impact,” says Hannah Jabar, an early careers talent acquisition manager at WEX, and a former WEX intern. “Interns are given the space, training and resources they need to provide solutions and solve problems. We want their perspectives. We want them to grow professionally and we expect the organization will benefit from their contributions, as it does with all employees.”
Hiring managers commit to making internships valuable, including helping interns make connections across the business. “I really felt like I was able to take charge of projects, and to dive deep by shadowing other teams and getting a view of the full picture,” says former intern Christine Ehrichs, Service Manager in WEX Health. “I engaged in a social media takeover and helped roll out a new knowledge base as an intern. My internship buddy showed me the ropes and introduced me to everyone on my new team. “
Being part of a structured program with specific deliverables gives interns at WEX a unique perspective across the business. “Every day was a great learning experience with new and exciting challenges that kept me hooked and helped me build connections across WEX,” says former intern Mohnish Raj Ganesh, Data Analyst, Global Risk and Compliance (pictured left). “People went out of their way to help and collaborate which amplified the overall experience.
“The WEX internship experience was an embodiment of the company’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, collaboration, and growth,” Mohnish said. “From travel and accommodation to lunch-and-learns with the executive leadership team, everything was taken care of and executed seamlessly. Endless support and opportunities from my team pushed me to take on initiatives and ownership of real projects, and helped me bridge the gap between academic knowledge and practical experience.”
The Summer Internship Program at WEX
While each hiring manager structures the specific role, sets objectives, and supports interns day-to-day, interns have an extra level of support at WEX. The formal Internship Program curriculum includes a tour of all the functional areas, sessions with our leadership team, a speaker series, and networking events. Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) help run the events, which have included virtual “in the kitchen with WEX” sessions and even a painting class (see photo at the top of this article). Interns from our marketing department create and publish an intern newsletter.
Jessica Houk, Director, Global Fleet Product Operations, actively seeks out opportunities to hire interns. “Interns bring novel perspectives, fresh ideas, and their own set of specialized strengths and skills which energize and revitalize our current environment,” she says. “Inexperience is actually an asset! Having young, hungry, growth-mindset energy around opens space for curiosity and self-reflection for our veteran team members, and strengthens tolerance for elasticity and innovation for all of us.”
WEX also runs an intern mentor program, involving our ERGs and employees who were former interns. Especially in a virtual environment where you can’t walk the hallways to absorb the vibe of a workplace, this program brings a one-to-one component to the internship that connects people with others who have similar backgrounds and/or share their professional interests.
Mohnish was hired after his internship and served as a mentor last year. “It’s fascinating that you always find something new to learn from another person. Given the pandemic situation, we were able to only connect virtually, so I worked hard to make sure that they were comfortable sharing, expressing, and learning without any inhibitions,” he said.
Internships are a great way to get experience and grow professionally. “Just because someone is an intern doesn’t mean that they don’t possess the skills or knowledge to contribute to the team’s overall goals,” Michelle adds. “With the right support — like frequent 1:1 meetings, an onboarding plan, and listening to any feedback they may have — they may have ideas that can greatly improve a process.”
That is exactly the experience that hiring manager Jesse Cyr, Director of Strategic Partnerships (pictured above left), has had with interns at WEX. “I have been thoroughly impressed with the fresh perspective that interns have provided my sales team over the years. When our 2019 intern — and current WEX employee — Kensie Schumacker asked us why we do certain things in Salesforce, we didn’t bristle, but rather embraced her recommendations for simplified entry and reporting, which allowed the team to focus more on selling and less time on administrative items.”
“We have learned that the future of the workforce is bright! Our pool of interns has been an incredible breath of fresh air with their work ethic, drive to learn, and emphasis on getting to know the team and the organization. Macy Williams, our 2021 intern and the current co-op has stepped up and assisted the sales team with everything from competitive research to organizing complex prospect data,” Jesse says.
Types of people who excel in the WEX internships program
Employees at WEX demonstrate behaviors that create our innovative, customer-first, fast-paced, always evolving culture. We look for people at all levels who are curious and ask, “Is there a better way?” People here are critical thinkers, self-directed, and motivated to achieve excellence. Interns share these qualities.
“The intern experience is what you make it,” Hannah says. “Take advantage of opportunities, especially in a remote setting, along with all the support resources. As with any job, it’s on you to take hold of it and run forward to success.”
WEX values are on display every day and really important to our organization. Alignment with our values is a key component of success here. “WEX’s emphasis on the core values is easily translatable to the way we interact with and develop our intern talent,” hiring manager Jesse says. “They bring innovative new ideas to our teams; they network and forge relationships across the organization to assess where they can make an impact; they bring their authentic selves to every interaction and provide honest feedback; and when we aren’t in a pandemic, they embrace WEX’s commitment to the community by participating in volunteer days.”
Internships are also a time to explore career options. “I was looking for a technology role and knew I wanted to be more on the software side of healthcare administration but wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to land,” Christine says. “When I interviewed with two lady bosses, it felt like a really good fit. I was looking for a mentor to help me start my career and I still look to those managers for advice.”
A supportive team can help an intern find their way and excel. Kayla Cho (pictured right) is currently working as our Product Portfolio Intern in global fleet product development. “One of the biggest factors that contributes to a good internship experience are my colleagues. Everyone is extremely encouraging, supportive, and great at what they do.
“I am also given the opportunity to work on different types of projects that allow me to explore many aspects of product management and collaborate with various types of teams and roles,” Kayla says.
Because WEX values interns as part of the larger team, everyone’s perspective gets heard. “It’s always great to collaborate with fresh minds. It is a two-way street since we both benefit from the collaboration in terms of knowledge and skills,” Mohnish says.
Jessica, who hires interns here, emphasizes how having interns on the team strengthens the leadership skills of our managers. “The opportunity to teach our interns to complete tasks and accomplish goals provides powerful personal motivation for our managers to hold themselves to a higher account and act as stronger leaders.”
Lessons learned by WEX interns
“I think work-life balance was something I didn’t think I would care about but ended up being really important to me. The flexibility to work remotely on a schedule that works best for me really solidified my staying with WEX,“ Christine says. (At left: The Internship Program virtual cooking night event in 2021.)
Mohnish recalls that before his internship with WEX, he felt the need to have all the answers before getting started on something. “This often overburdened me with deadlines, pushing me into the burnout phase, and eventually impacted the quality of work being delivered. Working with my team at WEX, I soon realized that every job has a learning curve and taking an iterative approach allows room for feedback and learning, and propels growth. I continue to apply this to my work.”
“Setting expectations and learning to say no were two key things that I didn’t care much about before but soon realized they were very important to me. This has helped me deliver quality work and grow consistently,” Mohnish says.
“Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know something, and ask questions when you have them,” Michelle offers. “As an intern, you are taken seriously on your team. That is one of the major reasons why I stayed at WEX.”
Christine also advises being open to change. “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable! Our industries are constantly changing and we have to be ready to adapt at any time and learn anything as we go.”
How to get the most from your summer internship
“I learned that being graceful and respectful goes a long way. Own up to a mistake you make and ensure it never happens again by taking on additional training, slowing down, or asking for help,” Christine shares.
“For intern candidates, I would recommend talking to as many people in the organization as you can so that you can get a sense of the type of people in the organization and the different roles and opportunities within the company. My biggest piece of advice is to not be afraid to ask questions. People don’t know what you know and won’t know unless you speak up and ask. Everyone knows you’re new so they don’t expect you to know everything, “ Kayla suggests.
Mohnish outlines four behaviors that serve him well:
- Build connections: There might be pressure to prove yourself and try to do all the tasks by yourself. Looking back at it now, building connections across the organization was really key. Collaboration drives innovation and offers perspectives and knowledge that can be hard to get when you are trying to solve it all alone.
- Learn to say no and set expectations: Understanding your bandwidth and current knowledge is the most underrated skill. This takes time to develop, so practice it with your manager to help ensure you deliver consistently.
- Take ownership and be accountable: WEX treats interns as employees where their work and opinions are highly valued and considered. Share opportunities and ideas with your managers and see how you can leverage your skills and connections.
- Be open to learning: There is definitely a gap between academic knowledge and knowing how to work in a professional setting. You might realize it sooner or later but the power lies in the synergy of the two.
When and how to apply for summer internships at WEX
When you fill out an application you will be considered for various roles. WEX will reach out to you for a screening call when there is interest. After that, candidates speak with the hiring manager and peers as part of a formal interview process. We typically fill our internship positions by March or early April.
We look for cultural fit plus skills that align with the job description. Hannah in talent acquisition recommends:
- Format your resume to highlight the skills requested in the job description.
- Do research on WEX to understand our market and solutions. Our corporate blog, “Inside WEX” blog has many ”Meet a WEXer” feature stories which can help you understand our culture and what it’s like to work here, including this one on four returning interns. Read about other WEXers here, here, and here.
- Bring energy and enthusiasm to the interview(s).
- Be prepared to share examples of your experience, successes, and learnings.
- Send thoughtful follow-up notes to everyone you meet as part of this process.
“Often the best internships are the ones that challenge you, and nudge you outside of your comfort zone,” Hannah says. “This is your safe space to fail and learn. Take advantage of that space and the opportunity in front of you.”
WEX is a leading, global fintech solutions provider, simplifying payments and back-end business processes in the fleet management, benefits management, and corporate and travel payments area. WEX values diversity and equity and is an equal opportunity employer. Search jobs on our careers site.