This past July, WayUp celebrated its fourth annual National Intern Day, and we are thrilled to announce our Intern 100 list for 2020. The list highlights the most ambitious, passionate, and talented interns in the country, and this year we had over 80,000 public votes cast! While there were an incredible amount of great candidates, only one could be named Intern of the Year. And the winner is…Dorien Baker!
Dorien spent his summer at the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network Intern. We sat down with Dorien to learn more about his experience, background, and career goals for the future.
What College Do You Go To? And What Do You Major In?
Morehouse College, Economics
How/Why Did You Choose Morehouse College?
When I participated in admitted-students events in the country, many of the schools felt like there wasn’t anything special about them. It was like you were a product on a factory line, and their job was to continue building on their students the exact same way. There were some tours that I did not feel welcome on and heard things about racial issues on campus and saw political posters that made me feel uncomfortable and not safe. At Morehouse, my first impression was very different. Despite some of the differences in infrastructure resources between other schools I toured, Morehouse was the only school that I felt at home at. There were a lot of students from Chicago that I could relate to, and there were people like Dr. Sewell, Dr. Elu, and Mr. Goodgame whom I met during the tours and who later helped me every step of the way to have an opportunity for success. It was impressed on me that the mission of Morehouse is to give us the tools to be leaders who are well-read, well-spoken, well-traveled, well-dressed, and well-balanced, and I knew that this was something that I wanted for myself and that it was worth the price.
Why Did You Select Economics For Your Major?
I have always had an interest in financial services. In high school, I was interning with investment banks and worked on many different projects in the field. Many people get a degree in Finance or Business Administration with a concentration in Finance, but they miss the broad perspective of how global economics significantly impacts the industry. Ultimately, I see an Economics degree as the fundamental knowledge needed to work in finance and then later I can choose either an MBA, CFA, or both for the detailed knowledge.
How Did You Land Your Internship At The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network?
The director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), Kenneth A. Blanco, visited Morehouse in February 2019 to give a talk on virtual currencies, cybersecurity, human trafficking, terrorism, and FinCEN’s role as a regulator and enforcement agency on these topics. Later in the day, Morehouse set up an event for campus student leadership to meet with the Director and his team to learn more about some of the issues that FinCEN covers. I connected with the Director and stayed in touch with him over the past year and a half, and he even set me up with a private tour of the U.S. Treasury Building in the White House complex. When we met last summer, he informed me that FinCEN was building their internship program and wanted to know my thoughts and experiences from past internships. Earlier this year he informed me that the application went live and the rest is history.
Can You Talk About A Mentor You’ve Had In Your Career? How Did That Person Affect You?
I have had countless mentors over the years, many of which have helped me in different ways. Director Blanco from FinCEN is helping me to become a leader; Dr. Sewell from Morehouse is helping me to make a change and leave a legacy at Morehouse as a student leader; Samantha Fields from the City of Chicago has helped me navigate workplace politics and learn how a city is run, and so on and so forth. In my experience, a great mentor is not someone who is trying to help you go down a path of success because there are many people out there with advice and their own definitions of success that may differ from yours. A great mentor is someone who can invest knowledge in you to develop your own understanding of the world and be able to support you while also taking a hands-off approach to let you navigate your own path with the knowledge you have given them.
Plenty of people have offered “the map” for success as if everyone is starting from the same place and ending with the same destination. I try to find mentors who know the pillars of success and are willing to teach them to me so that I can have them in my toolbox.
What Would Be Your Dream Job?
Hands down if I could do anything without the thought of salaries or location I would work with a major fashion house or an automotive company like LVMH or Mercedes Benz. I’d love to do something fun like creating and marketing new products to consumers and speaking at events to educate people about the brand.
What Advice Do You Have For Other Interns?
As a high school or college student, this is the only point in your life where you won’t have a great number of immediate financial obligations. Many of my peers focus on the immediate pay that they could gain from an internship and not the experience. In high school, I had three internships. One at a major investment bank where I made less than $1,500, another at a globally ranked museum where I made less than $1,000, and one in the mayor’s office where I worked for free, all while my peers were making several thousands of dollars.
However, when I look at my peers now, there are people who aren’t getting opportunities because they lack the experience and there are things that I learned 5 years ago that people are learning right now. When you are young, the experience is the most valuable thing you can get. At the collegiate level, you’ll be indirectly competing with others on a global playing field. Some of those people might come from very privileged backgrounds and have the resources to make their own experiences like starting a company and making $100K+ while in high school, or parents who are executives at companies and can get you & your friends internships.
You have to take advantage of all the opportunities you can, even if you have to pay for them yourself. Working for the City of Chicago put me well ahead of the curve, but when I spoke to my friends, many of them said they wouldn’t work for free and have to pay out of pocket for transportation and meals. Now, that is something that when I apply for opportunities and people find out I did that in high school, they are immediately impressed. The money will come later in life. For now, take advantage of all of the opportunities you can.
2020’s Intern 100 List
Dorien is not alone in accomplishing great things this summer! This year’s Top 100 Intern list represents over 70 different companies and students from all over the nation! Congratulations to the full list of Top 100 Interns—we are so excited to see all that you accomplish in your futures!
As a company, we also recognized that this year, many had either lost their internship or struggled to find one due to COVID-19. As such, we were committed to celebrating all types of students in this ever-changing, evolving world. We are excited to announce that Aja Sparks was selected to win our professional development career package after hearing their inspiring story of what they did this summer to stay focused on their career.