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Real Talk: Insights on Identity, Learning, and Growth from Our 2023 Interns

We spoke with 11 of our 2023 interns regarding their experiences, learnings, and perspective on Discover. 



Name: Lizette 
Pronouns: she/her  
Title: Diner’s Club International Brand Marketing Intern
Office Location: Riverwoods   

The best piece of advice I’ve received so far that I can apply to both my life and career is: “they won’t know if you don’t ask.” I learned how important it is to be vocal about goals, feelings, and intentions. This encourages me to take the initiative and ask for what I want to tackle next. By asking questions, we open doors to opportunities that may not have presented themselves otherwise, which I have done when seeking to explore new areas of interest in my internship. It’s a reminder to overcome hesitation and seize the changes that come our way. Asking questions has led to valuable insights, opportunities for growth, and unexpected outcomes.   

As a first-generation college student, I tend to figure things out myself – school, life, career, etc.  While I’ve learned to take initiative early on, I could not have done it without the people that supported me to get to where I am today. As I near towards the end of my undergrad and with internship experiences under my belt, I’ve learned to navigate hardship by reaching out for any form of help when I need it most. Whether from other first-generation college students, family, friends, or mentors - they’ve provided me with the support to work towards my goals every day.   

I’ve learned so much about Discover’s lines of business from past interns in the rotational program! I think Discover places great value on encouraging everyone to learn from one another, enabling them to explore their next opportunity.

Name: Amani 
Pronouns: she/her 
Title: Summer Intern on the Voice of Customer Team in E-Business 
Office Location: Riverwoods 

The three ways I’d describe myself are curious, optimistic, and passionate. I like to bring energy to whatever I’m doing and try my best to be a net positive to the room. With that comes the ability to ask questions on what I’m confused about, because someone else might also have the same question.  

My dad always used to tell me that “Even if you ask, the worst thing they’ll say is ‘no’.” I was super shy as a kid and thought it was useless advice, but recently I’ve learned he’s absolutely correct. There’s never any harm in asking, and worst-case scenario, you’ll just get told ‘no!’ It’s beneficial inside and outside of work, from asking coworkers for help to asking teachers for explanations.  

One of my biggest “learning moments” at Discover has been the in-person coffee chats. As someone who started their professional career in COVID, I’ve become so used to online coffee chats and I didn’t realize how much more impactful they can be when in-person. 


Name: Michael 
Pronouns: he/him
Title: Intern – Media COE / Sponsorships
Office Location: Riverwoods 

If I had to use one word to describe my personal brand, it would be “creative.” I love to create and work on personal projects outside of my work/school life. In my free time, I write and produce music, create video content for clubs and student organizations, DJ, and occasionally podcast with friends. Having a creative outlet is one of my biggest priorities in life. It helps me stay productive in both my work life and personal life and is great for maintaining good mental health habits. 

One of the best pieces of life advice I have ever received comes from one of my childhood best friend’s catchphrases. His sage advice is “it’s never that deep.” I know this sounds like the pinnacle Gen-Z statement, but it truly has become a phrase I try to live by every day. Many people often get hung up on daily tasks or inconveniences, whether it stems from struggles at school, work, etc. I used to be someone who would get very stressed about these types of things, putting a great deal of emphasis on results and potential outcomes. However, perspective is crucial to living a happy life. Instead of dwelling on these seemingly major issues, I try to remind myself that these types of things are never really that serious. Instead, I try to focus on the people around me and making the most of the relationships I have with them. 

From the moment I started at Discover, everyone has been so warm and welcoming, extending offers to chat or provide help at any time. The emphasis on communication and collaboration has been extremely helpful in my learning experiences, as I feel very comfortable asking team members for help or even general advice. The open communication, diversity of opinion and thought, and overall friendly demeanor makes Discover’s workplace culture truly special. 


Name: Nicholas
Pronouns: he/him 
Title: General Business – Cash Management Treasury Intern 
Office Location: Riverwoods 

One of my biggest learning moments during my internship thus far would be to always show up as yourself no matter what the collective is doing. I realized this when I noted I was the only intern from a HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) (Howard University) and felt the sense this was a good thing, to show representation for the community. This moment was solidified during our Q&A with our CEO, Roger, as he shared how his differences have allowed him and Discover to thrive in a space he thought he was not ready for. 

Aspects of myself I am currently working on are balance and self-grace. Balance, because I will take on a million things and forget about my personal needs—leading to burnouts. Self-grace, because I tend to be hypercritical of myself and second guess my capabilities. 

My personal brand is one that stands on three core attributes: personability, achievement, and resourcefulness. I am someone who wants to be seen as the “go-to guy,” so I think it important to be able to connect to others, have a winning mindset, and to not give up when it gets tough. 

Name: Christian 
Pronouns: he/him 
Title: MBA Intern – 360 Login and Authentication 
Office Location: Chicago 

My personal brand is: energetic, competitive, and above all, a team player. No matter what I’m doing, I bring 110% worth of energy and help keep the mindset moving forward. I lean into my competitive side now and again to dig deep and make sure I am pushing myself both personally and professionally. However, my core brand revolves around being a team player and ensuring no person is left behind—whether it’s a new person on the team, or an old friend. 

As Hispanic American, it was not uncommon to be the only one with my background in meetings, but I have been fortunate enough to have had managers and peers who were always supportive and gave me a platform to grow and succeed. Their influence has pushed me to create an inclusive atmosphere wherever I go, and I have certainly worked to implement those ideals here at Discover. 

Discover has been nothing but welcoming and inclusive. Everyone wants you to succeed and will provide you with the opportunities to stretch and demonstrate your full skillset while also making sure to provide needed mentorship and support along the way. 

Name: Federico 
Pronouns: he/him 
Title: Data and Analytics Graduate Internship Program 
Office Location: Riverwoods 

I’m passionate about building data-centric, impactful products, and I want to work in the financial sector to provide accessible and affordable financial solutions to everyone in the world. I also love theater and acting, and I believe engineering and art go hand in hand. I always try to have a positive attitude and be my true self every day. 

Being a gay, international student, who likes to wear nail polish, I was a little worried about entering a corporate environment in the United States. But on my first day, as soon as I saw the pride flag waving in front of the Riverwoods entrance, I felt at ease. And then I met all the other interns, the people from Emerging Talent, and everyone at my Data Science team, and I felt at home. It’s been a great experience so far.  

Some recent advice I received at an event during my internship that stuck with me was given by Brent DeMar, VP Data Platform Engineering, and it was “I have the ability to always figure it out.” I struggle sometimes with feeling like I’m not good enough compared to others, or feeling out of place, and this advice has given me the confidence of knowing that even though I don’t know how to do something or how to solve a problem, I have the past experience, the tools, and the people to help me figure it out.  


Name: Giovanna 
Pronouns: she/her 
Title: Business Technology Intern
Office Location: Riverwoods 

The biggest mindset shift for me was realizing how curiosity can be a superpower. If you stay genuinely curious about others, it removes some of the pressure from social situations, and you can approach the interaction as a learning opportunity. Another thought I make sure to remember whenever I feel myself getting nervous is every interaction with someone is an opportunity to make a positive impact on their day because you never know what others are dealing with at a given moment. 

The best career advice I’ve heard as a software engineer is to never fall in love with a specific language or tool. Technology has changed rapidly, and it will continue to do so. I believe another piece of advice that goes hand in hand with this is keeping a growth mindset. I’ve learned mindset and what you tell yourself really is everything so instead of saying “Oh, I have no clue how to do this,” say “Oh, I have no clue how to do this, yet.” Allow yourself the opportunity and space to learn and grow. 

As a career changing intern, I’ve held over 10 different jobs in my life ranging from a custodian, waitress, paralegal, to more recently a software engineering intern. Considering my varied work experiences, I feel confident when I say that the culture at Discover is special. As an intern, I’ve felt welcome to truly be myself, share ideas, and ask questions. From what I’ve observed, Discover truly cares about bringing in a workforce with diverse backgrounds, collaborating, learning from others, and succeeding together. For example, during my first week I reached out to a Principal Engineer on another team to ask for an example of a Playbook. Instead of sending a link as I expected, he scheduled time with me the same day and went over the example, made sure I got my questions answered, and let me know I could reach out whenever I needed. 

Name: Vanessa 
Pronouns: she/her 
Title: Business Technology Intern
Office Location: Houston 

I am an aspiring software engineer who hopes to build software that will impact the world for the better. At school, I am a student leader. I founded and led a student organization on campus that nurtures an environment of learning and curiosity for Japanese-language students to better their understanding of the language and culture. 

The best piece of advice I’ve gotten was: it is perfectly okay to ask for help, and that even senior engineers have things that they don’t know. We’re all learning, especially in tech where things are constantly evolving. Throughout this internship, everyone has really pushed for us interns to ask questions, and because of that, I have been able to get a lot of insight from my team members I never would have gotten if I never took that advice to heart and asked for help. 

The workplace culture at Discover is amazing. Everyone I’ve talked to has been friendly and welcoming, and they’re always down to help. There are a few times when I’ve been kind of lost around the office and someone notices instantly and asks me what I need. I’ve also had members of my team check in on me and tell me they’re open to questions, and it makes me feel good about asking them things, as opposed to feeling embarrassed or judged for it. I feel like this culture has helped me grow tremendously. 

Name: Stephen
Pronouns: he/him 
Title: General Business Undergraduate Internship Program 
Office Location: Riverwoods 

I would describe my brand as being hardworking, kind, and inquisitive. I have always prided myself on my work ethic and believe prioritizing kindness and curiosity can contribute to accelerated growth as a person and a business leader. I believe traits like these are essential for having a meaningful, long-lasting career and I hope I represent these virtues well. 

I am a first-generation, mixed person from a relatively low socioeconomic background, so navigating the corporate environment can sometimes be challenging. I have had to unlearn a lot of limiting beliefs and biases I’ve formed over the years to succeed in college and in professional environments. I also feel like I’ve had to learn how to look and act the part of a corporate employee, while also staying true to my upbringing and cultural background. 

My internship this summer has been extremely impactful both professionally and personally. The experience I have had so far has provided me with many learning opportunities and assignments that have allowed me to further my career readiness while attaining valuable work experience from a prestigious financial services company. I played many sports in high school, and like many young athletes, I hoped I could one day earn a spot on a collegiate or even professional sports team. Although my ambitions have changed since then, I’ve found many of the collaborative and communicative aspects of team sports apply to corporate environments as well. 

Name: Seth 
Pronouns: he/him 
Title: Data and Analytics Undergraduate Internship Program 
Office Location: Riverwoods 

I am very curious about most things I learn about—I love digging into the “why” behind the way things are. Being passionately curious has led me to a seemingly never-ending list of things I want to do and subjects I’d love to learn about. Overall, if I described my brand, it would be that I am extremely curious, passionate, and have an insatiable sweet tooth. 

Coming to Discover has been eye-opening. I come from a small town where there isn’t a large variety of backgrounds, experiences, or beliefs. One of my favorite aspects of working here has been to make friends with coworkers from every part of the world with a variety of skills, cultures, and backgrounds. I have been doing my best to learn from everyone I meet, and I hope to continue to carry with me the friendships I am making and lessons I’m learning wherever I go. 

I have found that at Discover, it seems that no matter how busy people are, or whether they’re a VP or in an executive position, they still treat you like genuine friends and equals. 

A young woman wearing glasses and a floral top smiles in front of a river.

Name: Laurel 
Pronouns: she/her
Title: MBA Intern, Strategic Partnerships Team (US Cards) 
Office Location: Riverwoods 

I aim to be thoughtful in everything I do, whether that’s getting to the bottom of an issue at work or helping a friend through a tough situation. I take time to both look at the big picture and examine the fine details. I try not to rush into decisions until I have enough information. This helps me stay levelheaded and pragmatic when faced with challenges and high-pressure situations. 

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a judge or a lawyer, which looking back stemmed from having a strong sense of right and wrong and a desire for fairness. Though law school wasn’t in the cards, I still carry that same sense of fairness with me. For the first five years of my career, I worked in private banking where I managed investments for high-net-worth clients and institutions. The role gave me exposure to the caliber of financial services available to the most affluent segments of the population, and ultimately this experience sparked my interest in companies focused on making high quality financial services more accessible. I’m excited to be spending my summer at Discover where I can take part in its mission of helping people achieve a brighter financial future. 

My family would always say that life isn’t a dress rehearsal. To me, it means that life is too short to spend time in a career, place, or circumstance that isn’t fulfilling you. This sentiment has motivated me to take stock of what I’m most passionate about and push towards my goals. It has so far driven me to apply to business school, pursue broader career options, travel more, and consistently say yes to new experiences, even when I think they’re intimidating. 

Invest in your career growth and expand your skillset with an internship at Discover.

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