Economics major finds new passion and fulfillment in remote internship

Katie Moats
August 19, 2020

Living through a global pandemic is difficult to navigate no matter who you are, and for college students, it makes tasks like finding an internship that hadn’t been canceled for the summer nearly impossible to come by. 

For senior Zachary Rall, however, this is where his journey with Munich Re began. Over the course of this summer, his remote internship with the German insurance company changed his outlook on his future.

Before he was working with one of the world’s leading insurance companies, Rall had come to Penn State as a transfer student from the University of South Carolina. Almost immediately after arriving on campus, he joined the Penn State University Economics Association (PSUEA), where he was able to find a place to call home.

“Penn State has been so great to me. I landed in State College as a transfer student trying to navigate my way through a sea of blue and white,” Rall said. “My first semester, I joined the Penn State Economics Association in which I found a group of people who motivate and inspire me—I’m so fortunate to now be serving as president of that organization in my senior year.”

Rall initially chose to study economics because he was drawn to its interdisciplinary nature. This made sense to him because he was interested in so many different fields of study.

“I really enjoy topics like mathematics, science, history, and philosophy, which the field incorporates in one way or another,” he said. “I’d like to utilize some of the quantitative skills that we’ve been taught within the major as I progress through my career.”

He was able to get a jumpstart on his career through help from the Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network, where he says he was able to learn the skills that were necessary for him to obtain his internship with Munich Re.

“The Career Enrichment Network gave me the tools I needed to be recruited by a premiere employer. Over the past two years I’ve consistently gone to them for résumé and cover letter revisions,” Rall said. “The Career Enrichment Network does a phenomenal job of bringing a large array of potential employers to campus. As a result, it has afforded me the opportunity to learn more about a wide variety of industries, hone my interview skills and enhance my comfort in speaking to recruiters.”

Despite the fact that his work was completely remote as a result of the pandemic, Rall found everything that he wanted in an internship. Throughout the summer, he was able to apply the technical skills he’s learned in his classes at Penn State and was afforded many networking opportunities. His favorite part of his experience was getting to learn more about the ins and outs of the insurance industry, as well as the role that Munich Re plays.

Although Rall completed his internship from his desk at home and mainly worked with the Philadelphia offices of the company, he also competed for a spot in Munich Re’s full-time rotational program, which would give him the opportunity to work in several different offices both within the United States and Germany before finishing with one final rotation anywhere in the world. According to Rall, the company’s policy is to communicate with each other in English, but he was able to take advantage of the fact that he is fluent in German and test out his language capabilities on native speakers.  

Through his involvement in this internship and all that he’s learned about the insurance industry, Rall has come to realize that he now has an interest in pursuing graduate school after he finishes his degree at Penn State.

“My internship has been the catalyst behind my thinking about going back to school or, in other words, finding ways to apply my economics background to my career more explicitly and effectively,” he said. “I’ve realized that there is so much that I’d like to learn more about and haven’t had the time to in an undergraduate setting. Starting my career is also the start of being a lifelong learner and a subject matter expert — going back for an advanced degree would be a huge step in accomplishing that.”

Rall believes he’s learned a lot, both inside and outside the classroom, through being a liberal arts student. The biggest thing he’s learned? Being open-minded.

“At times in my coursework, I’ve signed up for some GenEd classes that, at first, didn’t seem like they would apply at all to my economics coursework,” he said. “Throughout those semesters, time and time again, I found that those were the classes which opened my mind to the multifaceted ways in which my field impacts the world around me. My favorite of these experiences was Livelihoods and Ecosystems: Anthropological Approaches to Human-Environment Interaction with Douglas Bird.”

By successfully obtaining and completing a virtual internship with a company based in Germany during a global pandemic, Rall has proven that he is able to adapt and stay focused in unprecedented situations. 

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 19, 2020