Job interview

Metcalf interns and employers on challenging tasks, long days, and what they learned from each other.
What happens when different College generations come together in the workplace?

In 1997 the Metcalf Internship Program was established by Byron Trott, AB’81, MBA’82, chair and CEO of BDT Capital Partners and a University trustee. From the beginning, alumni have been huge supporters of the program as donors, sponsors, and employers; in 2012, 20 percent of Metcalf placements were made possible by alumni.

What happens when different College generations come together in the workplace? Here’s what the College Newsletter found out.


John Podmajersky, AB’82
President, Chicago Arts District, Pilsen
Cynthia West
Director, Chicago Arts District

What did Sophia do for you?

WEST: She made sure our business was recognized in Google, that our map information was correct, making sure that little red pin is accurate. That took a lot more work than any of us realized. She was very involved in the planning and details of 2nd Fridays Gallery Night.

PODMAJERSKY: She also became an elevator operator. One of the buildings has an oldfashioned elevator that we insist be operated on those busy nights. It’s been a U of C position for quite a while.

WEST: And highly sought after, by the way. You’d be surprised how many supremely bright kids run this elevator and say, “Wow, I’ve found my calling.”

What was the strangest task you were given?

POSNOK: Cynthia and I did the decorations for the 2011 open house. We went to all these craft stores and got fake flowers and vines to make this preindustrial room look more earthy.



Natasha Latif, AB’11
Investment analyst, Brookstone Partners, New York

Why did you hire Geoffery?

LATIF: We’ve had a lot of interns, and no one has been as smart as he is. He was an ideal intern: he asked questions, wanted to do more, pushed to get a lot done. He’s coming back in the fall [as a full-time employee].

Do you and your intern have any tastes or quirks in common?

LATIF: Not really. We’re very different, but not in a bad way. The kind of jokes he would crack, I don’t think I would crack.

What was one of the most difficult tasks you had to do?

ZHENG: We had to close a financing deal, and it involved reviewing 600 pages of paperwork in triplicate. We spent three or four hours a day verifying signatures. Everything had to be notarized.

What are the biggest differences between you and Natasha?

ZHENG: What we like to do outside of work. Natasha loves the city life: museums, going out to eat. I like open spaces, so if the portfolio company held a meeting in a rural area, I was like, “This location is wonderful.”

She also said you tell different types of jokes.

ZHENG: That’s definitely true.



Benjamin Wiener, AB’94
CEO, WDCW (advertising agency), Los Angeles

What have you learned from your interns?

WIENER: The first time I saw Facebook was through an intern. They generally bring a whole level of perspective and engagement with the modern world.

You began your career as an intern with the agency. What did you learn from your experiences?

WIENER: Realizing I wasn’t very good at organizing office supplies. And learning how to jump in wherever you’re needed and not to be too fussy.

What was the most important thing you learned?

WIENER: I had no idea how huge the advertising marketing world was and the impact it has on every single person’s life. Once you’re behind the scenes trying to influence people, you become aware of the way brands try to influence you.

What’s the strangest thing you were ever asked to do?

SIEGEL: Brittany and I had a project for AT&T where we drove through LA to five or six MetroPCS stores. We secretly took pictures on our cameras and asked salespeople questions to help us to figure out the marketing and advertising.

What was one of the most difficult projects you worked on?

AGOSTINO: My account was with Cedars- Sinai hospital. I had to revise the same project seven or eight times.

Did you need to buy new work clothes for the internship?

AGOSTINO: I didn’t. I previously worked a couple of internships where I needed business formal, but at WDCW I wore summer dresses every day. There was beer on tap in the office, themed rooms, a bunch of vintage video games. It was a completely different work environment than the East Coast, buttoned-up establishment I was used to.