Richa Patel

Work and School

DePaul has a work hard and study hard culture and I really appreciate that. A majority of the students I meet work while going to school. Whether it’s an internship, retail job, or a babysitting gig, many students here find the balance between studying and doing homework for all their classes and earning some money on the side so they can enjoy the things they like. 
I didn’t start working any real part-time/seasonal jobs until my freshman year at DePaul which I consider a little late because some of my friends and family have been working since early high school. My parents never encouraged me to work because they wanted me to focus entirely on school but I find joy in the independence of working for money that I can spend on whatever I want. I also think I do better in school when I’m working.

Seasonal jobs are a great advantage to DePaul students. Especially now that we have a 6-week break, working during the holiday season at retail stores is a great way to get in a lot of hours and make a lot of extra money for the holiday season whether you are staying in Chicago or are going back home- so many employers are looking to hire during our Winter break.

Many employers understand the importance of school when they have college students as employees. I love working at DePaul because they are definitely the most understanding employer I have ever had and are always flexible when I have school work or events. Many of the on-campus jobs allow you downtime to do your homework and my favorite part is that depending on the department, you build good connections with professors and advisors.


Summer Internships

 As we get deeper into our college careers, more and more opportunities arise. For example, there are an extensive amount of internships available in Chicago. DePaul students always have great internship opportunities - since Chicago is home to so many incredible companies and organizations. It is likely that you will experience many different internships throughout your DePaul career.

This past Summer I had the opportunity to intern in the finance department of The American Board of Medical Specialties. A nonprofit located in River North which focuses on furthering the education of the doctors of their member boards. Their mission was a little bit complex to understand, but the organization is great. And the people I worked with taught me so much.

I was lucky to have found this position through Handshake around springtime. Even though I didn’t know this organization before applying, the description, and it being a nonprofit, made me really excited.  It seemed like a good experience to have with accounting.

There are a lot of great perks to interning in the summer. I had the opportunity to learn and help out different departments of the organization; I  was treated like an employee, where I got to sit in on very important meetings and give my input; I was also able to join in their Summer outings and socials in the office.

I worked with very intelligent people in an all-women finance department, which I found very inspiring. They taught me so much I can use in any future career down the line in regards to finance-related knowledge, work tips and even just life tips.  I’m glad I’m in a city full of such great organizations and companies and can’t wait to see what other experiences I will have.


Professional/Business Casual Attire

With it being more than halfway through the school year, and many job opportunities on the horizon – be it summer or full-time, you’ll need professional clothing. But you don’t always need an excuse to shop, you can treat yourself after these finals and indulge in some retail therapy like me. Here are some places I enjoy shopping at for a more professional look while not hurting my bank account.

LOFT : I always would walk by LOFT thinking it was a place my mom would shop at, but I was very wrong. I wish my mom shopped here. LOFT always has great sales where they usually put regular priced items at 40% off and 50% off on the clearance. They have clothes that are in style and various colors if you are looking to be bolder with your look.

Banana Republic Factory : A new store recently opened on State St. and there is also one on Clark St. - so easy access from both campuses. Banana Republic Factory also always has sales ranging from 30%-50% off items and they even have events where they give cash back coupons. Also, I personally think Banana has the comfiest business pants ever, so if you want to look good and be comfy I recommend pants from here.

Target : I know it sounds weird to shop for professional clothes at Target, but first of all, what can’t Target do? And second of all, they just launched a new line called What To Wear and the clothes are unique and can be worn professionally or for business casual events. Target’s Cartwheel app also has tons of additional offers where they usually have coupons for an additional percent off clothing.
Others: Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls, T.J Maxx - All these stores are great if you like designer brands for a cheaper price. These stores are more of an adventure if you are looking for something specific because of their limited inventory, but definitely worth going to if you have the time and don’t need anything last minute.   

Interview Tips

DePaul is full of opportunities ​and ties to the amazing city of Chicago, which means tons of opportunities for internships and jobs. I’m always looking for ways to apply what I’m learning in class into action in the real world, so internships at my age are a great way to do that. I’ve been through so many interviews these past few weeks, and although I’m exhausted from them, I learned more with each interview I had. Here are some tips and things to keep in mind when interviewing:

1. Research

It’s good to know the company you want to essentially work for. I would make sure to note their values and see if they align with yours. Also, research if the company has any events or services that you may be interested in. In addition research the position, make sure the job entails work that interests you.

2. Dress like you want the job

First impressions are important and walking in looking professional is a large part of that. It’s a good idea to invest in a quality suit because you are going to have a lot of interviews and are going to have to wear a suit often.

3. Arrive at least 15 minutes before

One of my coach’s always used to say that if you’re on time, you’re late. Not only is it important to arrive early because it shows you are punctual but it also gets your mind ready and in the interview setting/office before you have the interview.

4. Bring in questions

Curiosity is important. If you are given the name of the person interviewing you, study them and find questions relating to their background to get to know them more. Don’t sound rehearsed with your questions, you want to ask questions pertaining to what they ask you during the interview but always bring some in incase you blank.

5. Practice

The career center​ has so many great resources to practice answering questions and your elevator pitch! It may sound weird, but practice in front of a mirror too. It really helps with confidence and gets you extra prepared to talk to an interviewer.

6. Know yourself

I outline everything I have ever been involved with and write down what each experience taught me. It’s a good refresher as to where you can pull examples from. This gets me thinking about what experience and skills I have so I can answer behavioral questions quickly.

7. Make it a conversation

You’ll hear this often, but you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you so just make it a conversation. A professional one.

8. Be yourself

Don’t psych yourself out. The company you are interviewing for just wants to get to know the genuine you. If you are passionate about something make sure to incorporate that into your interview. Also, don’t undermine your accomplishment, this is your chance to talk about all the things you are proud of.

9. Thank you letters/emails

Make sure to send a thank you​ email as soon as possible after the interview. A handwritten thank you note is also a more sincere way to say thank you. I always do both because you can never go wrong saying thank you more than once.


Study Abroad in Switzerland

“Hi, how are you?” “How was your break?” “What did you do?”

It’s the first week back from our six-week long winter break and I have been prepared to answer these same questions about 5 times a day. I’m glad I finally have something to talk about this time. This winter break I spent 10 of my days studying abroad in Switzerland and it was one of my highlights of 2017. I’m going to swiftly go through some of the things that we did on our trip and hopefully convince you to study abroad- or just travel in general.

The first full day we were in Geneva we had a tour at the United Nations in the morning then a meeting with the Ambassador from Costa Rica at the World Trade Organization in the afternoon. I still can’t believe I was at the UN and got to sit at a table with the Costa Rican ambassador with my classmates and hear about what he had to say- he was so personable I could have listened to him talk forever.

The next day we walked to cultural sights of Geneva after we had a morning at the Red Cross Museum. The Sunday we were there was our fun day! It was filled with good food and beautiful views. We went to a chocolate factory to learn about how chocolate was made and of course, we ate a bunch of amazing Swiss chocolate in the end. The chocolate from there was amazing, it melts in your mouth and tastes so clean- if that makes sense. After a morning of chocolate, we went to Gruyere Town which was a small town on a mountain where we had a raclette lunch and explored a castle.

Monday we had a visit at UNICEF which was one of my favorite visits. We met with a woman who knew so much about UNICEF and answered everything and more we asked. She was so knowledgeable about what she did and worked her way through a unique route to get to where she is now.

On Tuesday we moved from Geneva to Zurich, a larger more city-like area of Switzerland and along the way, we stopped at another castle and did some Christmas shopping in one of the many Christmas markets we had seen. On the second half of our trip, we did a lot of visits: we went to a college in Zurich, the World Economic Forum, WWF, and ROPKA. Our professor made sure we visited a good range of organizations, for example from a grassroots one (ROPKA) to WWF (such a well-known one).

Although it seems like what I enjoyed most about my study abroad trip was the food, I enjoyed every single educational visit we had more than anything. I have experienced so many different types of organizations of the nonprofit world and love the memories and knowledge I have gained from the visits we did and people we met.

I highly recommend studying abroad, especially this program if you are a business student and are interested in traveling. It’s good exposure to traveling along with an interactive way to learn about an interesting subject. I’m very glad this trip was my first experience in Europe. My Professor has created an amazing program and has inspired me to continue traveling and exposing myself to more experiences and cultures.  


Week 9 Focus

Week 9 for me is also known as my “get your life together” week. The fall quarter is almost over and our first break is so close. I can barely focus because I’m too excited to be done with school for the year, go home, see my friends and family, and celebrate the holidays.

Sadly, it’s time to prepare for finals even though it feels like I was taking midterms last week. Although it’s super easy to get distracted I’m going to take my distractions and use them as motivation. It’s so easy to get distracted when you’re near the end of the quarter and want to avoid your papers, group projects and studying but there are ways to stay focused. I’m just going to share some ways on how to stay focused when you have a lot of things on your plate.

My favorite way to keep organized and get things done is to make lists. Daily lists are the best. Where you can list all the things you need to get done for the day, and checking those things off as you go through your day is such a relieving feeling. Setting reminders is also very helpful, whether it be a reminder to do your laundry at 2 pm or finish your paper at 11:59 pm. This is a great thing to do if you’re very forgetful like me. Also, putting things on a calendar can help you see how available you are and how you can manage your time best. These are just a few ways I get my life together when I’m stressed, but stress is normal - especially when finals are approaching. It’s important to keep yourself motivated and not be too hard on yourself. Make sure to take breaks and make time for yourself.

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Why Did I Apply

I remember growing up, a lot of my friends had a “dream school” they wanted to go, but I didn’t have that. As I was applying to colleges during the fall of my senior year I never thought that DePaul would be the college I’d end up at. I’m halfway through my sophomore year and have realized that DePaul is perfect for me. This university fits everything I need and it turns I am going to my dream school.

Location: First of all DePaul has an amazing location. Honestly, I found DePaul to be the prettiest of the Chicago universities. Although I’m from the suburbs and would visit the city almost every week for fun before my freshman year, I never get tired of Chicago. I love Chicago and couldn’t see myself in a rural area for school. Chicago is full of culture, opportunities, and lessons and it is true when everyone says “the city is your campus.”

Financial Fit: DePaul met my financial needs. Money is a very stressful thing and that played a large factor for me when I was applying to colleges. I was lucky enough to qualify for some of the many DePaul scholarships.

Business School: DePaul has a well-known business school and knowing I wanted to major in accounting made it easier for me to see why DePaul was a good fit. DePaul offers a lot of good networking opportunities since it is located in and near the city. I thought about how being surrounded by the fast pace lifestyle of Chicago would help me prepare more for the future.​​

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