Maya Gunaseharan '12
"What I took away from the experience were the conversations I had with the HR professionals there. It’s a very broad area so every person I spoke to had a different experience, different strengths and weaknesses and different things that they enjoyed. So I thought, I will not get bored in this."
Maya took ideas from her course work in Human Resources and Organizational Behavior into several internships with major global companies. She carries her fascination with the opportunities that come from the many differences between people into all of her activities.
I first came to Cornell to visit a friend and was taken aback by the diversity of the campus, from students to faculty. So I thought, this is a place I see myself. I started looking more deeply into the programs offered and was struck by the ILR School. Although I didn't know what I wanted to do, it seemed like ILR was a program that could help me shape the direction I wanted to take.
Diversity was one thing I was looking for in a college. I've grown up in a very diverse community and I know diversity to be something that I want to see in an environment I'm working in. In addition, I was looking for a diverse array of opportunities. I wanted to have many different things to throw myself into and to try new things. So diversity and the wide variety of opportunities that existed is why I chose ILR.
When I came to ILR, I thought I wanted to do something related to business. As I took the ILR core classes, I became really interested in Human Resources and Organizational Behavior, thinking about the way that organizations function and what role I could take in making them function better. So as I took more classes and got some work experience through ILR, I was able to come up with a better direction I wanted to take in terms of a career path.
Experiencing the domestic and international workplace
I completed a winter internship during my sophomore year. I worked for 2 weeks at Pepsi Beverages Company as a member of the compensation team. During my junior year, I completed a credit internship at IBM, also working in a human resources function. During the summer of my junior year, I stayed at IBM, so the credit internship turned into a summer one.
Pepsi was my first professional experience. I worked with an amazing ILR alum who held a very prominent role in the HR function and who was so willing to share her experience and continues to be a great mentor to me. I completed projects for the compensation team, mainly around automating functions that had previously been manual, helping them make their processes more efficient. What I took away from the experience were the conversations I had with the HR professionals there. It's a very broad area so every person I spoke to had a different experience, different strengths and weaknesses and different things that they enjoyed. So I thought, I will not get bored in this.
At IBM, I was working on the global recognition team. At the time, they were revamping their global recognition framework, so I was working on a 10-person team across the world. Conference calls with people from India, the UK, just to think that we could gather together and really bring people from so many different backgrounds together and create a stronger recognition framework for IBM was an amazing experience. I co-led a team of people who were responsible for revamping their service recognition program, so looking at how to recognize employees for years of service on a global scale. It was really challenging working with people from all over the world, whether it was the time difference or language barrier, and trying to find a way to work together in a way that suits all of us. After 8 months of being there, I felt like I'd gotten knee-deep in some very challenging and interesting work.
I am the president of the Minority ILR Student Organization or MILRSO. MILRSO hosts an evening discussion session with ILR alumni who return for the Career Fair event. It is my responsibility to engage with the companies beforehand and ensure that they're prepared for this event. During that event, I also serve as the face of MILRSO, so I'm in charge of running the program and making sure that company reps and students have a very positive experience, whether that be preparing the students beforehand and making sure they're ready to engage or network or following up with the company reps afterwards. One of the most challenging things for me is thinking about the future and how to foster a strong body and e-board for next year.
There are so many different types of people here and I've been fortunate enough to be involved with many different communities, whether that's my a capella group, MILRSO, or the Buddhist organization I'm involved with. So I've been able to take advantage of the diversity that exists.
I will be working for the Nielsen Company in New York City. I'm joining their Human Resources Emerging Leaders program. It is a 2-year rotational program which will conclude with an international assignment. I look forward to coming back to Cornell to recruit some fantastic ILR students starting next year.
I'm overwhelmed with appreciation because I feel like the opportunities I've had since enrolling in the ILR School have been really phenomenal. For years to come, I'll be that alum who can offer my assistance to ILR community members. The experience will be an amazing one. I think a lot of my peers share the same sentiments.