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Portrait of Clara Chung

Clara Chung interns at American Express

I had the amazing opportunity to work as a Global Total Rewards and Medical intern at American Express which is a global services company that provides credit card, financial, and travel services. I was very lucky to intern during a transformative period of American Express’ history. The CEO for more than 30 years, Ken Chenault, announced his successor, and I was very fortunate to be a part of such a momentous occasion in American Express’ history.

As a benefits intern, I engaged in exciting projects relating to employee retirement, financial planning, wellbeing, and healthcare. I had the opportunity to create an emergency benefits resource sheet which outlined resources available to assist employees in the event of a natural disaster. My work was later posted on the employee portal and was particularly useful in the wake of Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria. Moreover, I also worked on a comparison of AXP’s vendor preventive care services.  Additionally, I helped organize and run the employee benefits affair, and attended a meeting with the Northeast Business Group on Health.

I enjoyed how I was able to be a generalist within benefits, as I was able to work on projects assigned to me by any member of the benefits team, not just my two managers. Therefore, I had the opportunity to get involved in parental leave and financial wellness projects, even though my concentration was on healthcare strategy and employee wellness. Furthermore, I enjoyed being able to correspond with healthcare vendors directly, without having to approve my emails beforehand with my managers. Instead, I was able to exercise freedom and independence with the projects that I was in charge of. I appreciated the level of responsibility and trust that I was allocated, as it made my internship experience feel much more authentic to a full-time analyst position.

I highly recommend taking Christina Homrighouse’s Essential Desktop Applications in preparation for the credit internship because much of my work was completed using Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Additionally, I found my human resources class to be useful in providing me with a basis for understanding the different groups of human resources at AXP.

My internship at American Express was an unparalleled, professional learning experience. My internship taught me how to multitask multiple projects and allocate my time appropriately. Not only that, my credit internship enabled me to understand the role of a human resource professional at a level that academics at Cornell alone cannot. As a result of my experience, I now know that I would be open to pursuing benefits full-time in the future.

I would highly recommend future students pursue the credit internship program! My experience at American Express allowed me to take a deep-dive into human resources from a financial services industry standpoint, and it enabled me to see first-hand the application of my academics to the business world. Furthermore, my experience taught me essential tips in professionalism and organizational skills which will be useful in my future endeavours. Also, I was able to meet some of the most amazing, motivated human resource professionals who I know that I will continue to have lasting relationships with. I can confidently say that the credit internship program has been one of the most memorable and important experiences of my time in ILR. Everyone should do it!