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Undergraduate Admissions Blog

Stories from ILR Undergraduate Admissions

Maria Delgado '23

Maria Delgado

Hi everyone! My name is Maria Delgado, and I am a senior at the ILR School minoring in Inequality Studies and Education. This past summer, I completed an HR and People team internship at Tesla! Tesla is an automotive and clean energy company focused on accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy. I had an incredible experience working with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team and serving as a DEI intern. Throughout the 12 weeks with the team, I made meaningful contributions to my projects and learned valuable skills.

For one of my projects, I traveled to Reno, Nevada, which was exciting given the fact that I was working remotely from Chicago. In this project, I partnered with my manager to coordinate an Employee Resource Group (ERG) Fair for Gigafactory One. I managed various logistics: securing our venue and materials from Tesla’s workplace team, communicating with ERG leaders, managing day-of-event details, and keeping track of new member registration. We had a successful fair and recruited 200+ new members for multiple ERGs. After we finished, my manager and I had lunch with one of her colleagues who shared a lot of helpful insight on life and careers. To say the least, this was a really fun experience.

Throughout the internship, I strengthened my soft and hard skills since many of my projects entailed communication and collaboration with various people and teams. Moreover, I saw first hand how the DEI team impacted the organization, ERGs, and other key stakeholders to create an inclusive workplace, shape culture, and move Tesla’s mission forward. My manager played an instrumental role in helping me succeed and grow this past summer. I learned so much from her professionally and am grateful for all the guidance she gave me. I am excited to use the skills and knowledge I acquired throughout the internship in my last year at Cornell and my next steps post graduation.

I’d like to leave a note and some tips to (first generation) college students who are hesitant to pursue an internship or are nervous while doing one. Though I had an exceptional experience, I was pretty nervous when I first started. I think a lot of these sentiments carry over from being a first-gen college student. However, with time, experience, and support, I learned to embrace the feelings of nervousness and the “what ifs.” I want to reassure you and say that you will get there too. You’ll get there by pursuing opportunities, taking risks, and finding mentors. In the meantime, I recommend the following tips:

  1. Talk to your manager or advisor about your interests and goals. They genuinely care and want to help you grow professionally.
  2. Create meaningful relationships with the people you work with. This is the way you will find mentors.
  3. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.
  4. Ask for feedback and make improvements.
  5. Remember our slogan: it takes work

With that being said, go into the world with an open mind and take some risks. You can do it.