Multi-University Leadership Summit Gives Interns a Competitive Edge

By Sue McMurray

In collaboration with Central Washington University and accounting firm KPMG, the Carson College of Business developed the Intern Leadership Summit in Seattle this past spring benefiting more than 30 students from 10 institutions across the state.

More than 30 students from 10 institutions across the state attended the 2024 Intern Leadership Summit developed by Janel Lang and Andy Parks.
The summit—themed “Empowering Students for Career Readiness”—featured customized leadership and development workshops for interns and intern managers, insights from industry leaders—including a panel of executives who spoke on how to succeed as an intern, and networking opportunities. Along with teaching leadership skills, the summit also emphasized emotional intelligence and cultural/bias awareness best practices.

Janel Lang, Carson College corporate engagement manager, worked closely with Andy Parks, Central Washington University senior lecturer and a professional emotional intelligence coach, to plan and lead the summit supported by KPMG US Foundation Inc.’s Reaching New Heights program grant. The Reaching New Heights program creates a stronger pipeline of diversity at institutions and fosters cross collaboration with educators.

“The Intern Leadership Summit was a unique and powerful experience for the student participants,” Lang says. “They dug deep to learn about their own emotional intelligence and discovered how important the aspects were to collaboration and success in the workplace.”

Nine WSU students attended, including six from the Carson College: Zakary Harmon, Gurminder Atwal, Mia Darnell, Alexis Garland, Danielle McMillan and Chaewoo Ahn.

Awareness of self and others, emotional control, and emotional intelligence were key takeaways according to Darnell, who is majoring in accounting and English with a focus on rhetoric and professional writing.

“I was honestly expecting it to be more of a ‘numbers’ professional talk, but I was pleasantly surprised that the event was in collaboration with the KPMG Foundation,” Darnell says. “This was amazing, as I am a passionate volunteer, and one of the reasons why I pursued an English degree is so I can proficiently write a grant or business proposal for any nonprofit I am involved with.”

While Darnell’s future plans are to work as a tax accountant or advisor of either a nonprofit or a for-profit entity with advanced corporate social responsibility, she says she’s already using what she learned during the workshops in terms of being more aware of emotions that drive reactions and the power of empathy and respect toward diverse opinions and backgrounds.

“I am open to whatever opportunity that may be in front of me,” she says. “Soft skills such as self-awareness, self-regulating emotions, and emotional intelligence are just as critical as technical skills to the success of the overall mission and goal of an organization.”