Class of 2016
Business Ethics Intern
Sarina is a senior finance major in the Leavey School of Business. Drawn by her interest in law and business, she jumped at the opportunity to participate in the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics’ Business Ethics Internship program. Her placement with Cisco’s Corporate Investigations team started spring quarter of 2015 and extends through her graduation in the spring of 2016. We spoke with her about the experience so far and her thoughts on ethics and business.
What drove you to apply for this internship?
My career goal is to become an in-house general counsel at a high-tech company in the Silicon Valley. When I found out they were looking for undergraduate interns to work in the legal department, I jumped at the opportunity, because legal internships are typically exclusive to law school students.
What are you doing at your internship?
I am involved in examining expense reports and communications of employees, developing analyses and calculations, as well as participating in the interview and termination processes.
How have you been able to apply what you've learned at SCU to your internship?
Having taken two ethics courses at SCU as well as having attended several law school events, I have been able to apply the sense of morality Santa Clara ingrains in its students to my thought process during cases.
How has the internship changed your view of business and of ethics?
Business and ethics are not black and white. I've learned that ethics is often applied to circumstance, but there's also a need to preserve the company's integrity and commitment to its shareholders. The difficulty is maintaining that balance.
What is something that you'd like to accomplish during this internship?
I would like to network with as many Cisco employees as I can. I'm proud to say that Cisco does a good job of that; it really integrates its interns into the employee community and you get many opportunities to meet managers, VPs and even the chief executives.
What surprised you most about working in ethics and compliance at a major company?
What surprised me most was the level of transparency Cisco shares with us; we are truly integrated into the team and introduced as such. Therefore, we are able to see the bigger picture in cases, and not just understanding a small piece of the puzzle. By seeing the bigger picture, we are able to use our own knowledge and opinions to make decisions and judgments.
What do you think is one of the biggest ethical challenges in Silicon Valley today?
I believe the biggest ethical challenge in Silicon Valley today is the issue of intellectual property. Whether it be selling off ideas, or simply just stealing assets, I think this issue is bigger than just one area of expertise can comprehend. I think that a high-tech company such as Cisco addresses this by having a collaborative environment, particularly with the engineering, litigation and compliance departments.
What is one thing that you have taken away from the internship so far?
I am definitely better at listening to people.
What do you want to do once you graduate?
I intend to go to law school to become an attorney, but that may not be immediately after graduation. I am willing to try new things, but I believe that my career will always be intertwined with business ethics.
Sarina is pictured with Cisco's CEOs.