Knox students from across the academic spectrum find opportunities for career growth and exploration outside of the classroom in the form of independent research, travel programs, and internships. Often, these programs have well-established connections with Knox, but Taniayah Johnson '20 found a new program and forged her own relationship by becoming Knox’s first Mary T. Washington Wylie scholar. Johnson participated in the internship preparation program in January 2020.
Sponsored by the Illinois CPA Society, the Mary T. Washington Wylie Internship Preparation Program is an award-winning, all-expenses-paid opportunity that gives African American and other minority accounting students access to training, resources, and mentorship. At the conclusion of the program, students are interviewed by well-known employers for a variety of paid internships that could lead to full-time positions after graduation.
Johnson, who studies integrated business management with concentrations in accounting and finance, said that she was thankful for the introduction of the business major during her junior year at Knox. “I switched right on over to business, and ever since I've been loving it. I love financially advising people,” she added. “I'm really just passionate about educating people about financial literacy.”
After finding out about the program via her connections from working in the Bastian Family Center for Career Success, Johnson was accepted. “I was a little hesitant at first about applying because [the program took place] on school days,” she said. Because of this hesitation, she said that she was especially shocked to get the list of things accepted applicants received during and after their participation in the program. “I got a $500 scholarship. I got 500 business cards. I got a professional headshot. They helped me perfect my resume, they helped me with my LinkedIn profile. [ . . . ] I felt good about myself.”
As part of the program, Johnson got the opportunity to interview with two major accounting firms in Chicago for possible internships after graduation. She went on to express her immense gratitude to the program: “Everything was just really, really great. Just being able to bring my Career Center [working] background to the program was really exciting for me because I didn't think that I was a professional,” she said. “Then once I got it, you know, that kind of opened my eyes [to the fact] that I am a good candidate, and that I have the characteristics to be successful within the business world.”
When asked to give advice to other students looking to pursue careers in business, Johnson encouraged students to utilize resources in the Career Center. “They're there to help you and make sure that you are successful after you leave,” she said. “And just go for it."
More information can be found on the Mary T. Washington Wylie Internship Preparation Program website.