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An Invaluable Internship at Discover

By Sarah Scheffler

August 29, 2022

Cover photo for the article about Sarah's Marketing MBA internship at Discover

During the summer of 2022, I had the pleasure of interning for Discover Financial Services. I sat with the Rewards and Product Strategy team and primarily worked out of Discover’s Chicago office. This internship was an incredible learning experience, and I’m grateful to their team for investing so much time and effort into my development.

Discover is a great company to work for.

Discover is a great company to work for. As an organization, they prioritize their employees. They provide endless resources to support employee engagement, from employee resource groups to volunteer opportunities. They also openly support development from all levels of the organization. Employees can openly explore other internal roles and are encouraged to switch positions in to grow their career. Discover also offers very flexible work arrangements. While they have offices in Riverwoods, IL and in downtown Chicago, employees are welcome to work remotely as they see fit. Most employees work from home four days per week and coordinate with they team to come into the office one day together each week. Discover has a strong commitment to ensuring it’s employees are satisfied, and as a result, the average tenure of employees is over 8 years.

The Internship Program

As part of their internship program, Discover hosts several different programming and networking events. Discover had over 150 interns and provided several opportunities for connection and engagement. They host an annual intern boat trip where Discover rents a boat at Chicago’s Navy Pier with food and beverages and sail up and down the Chicago lakefront. This event provided the opportunity for all interns to connect outside of the office and get to know each other in a more casual environment.

In addition to this boat trips, Discover also coordinates what they call “intern families”. These are groups of about 20 interns from across specialties that meet regularly and provide a source of support for all things intern-related. I found this beneficial because it provided an easy way to get to know interns outside of the MBA program on a deeper level. Through my intern family, I got to learn about different cross-functional teams, such as analytics, fraud monitoring, and risk management. These are areas I would have otherwise had minimal exposure to.

Another unique part of Discover’s intern programming is the development and coaching of personal and business goals for interns. In the beginning of the summer, interns identify three personal goals and two business goals they want to achieve over the summer. Together with their managers, interns lay out a roadmap for how they will achieve those goals, including midpoint reviews and formal feedback sessions. Discover’s intern programming is one of many things that makes Discover unique.

My Role this Summer

As part of my role, I sat with the Rewards & Product Strategy group. This team owned the strategy of each of Discover’s credit card products themselves, as well as the rewards earning and redemption function. This is an incredibly dynamic, hardworking, and intelligent team. It was an honor to work with them.

My assigned project involved finding a way Discover could enable it’s customers to understand and reduce the carbon footprint associated with the credit card transactions. Research shows that over half of greenhouse gasses worldwide are attributable to individual consumption. Not only has Discover taken several steps to reduce their own carbon footprint, but they also wanted to go a step further to enable their customers to understand and take action on their own carbon footprint. This can be accomplished by associating each credit card transaction with the amount of carbon emissions of that specific transaction and aggregating the total amount of emissions for all transactions on a statement. Further, Discover has started offering rewards redemption options that benefit carbon offsetting organizations, such as

This was an incredibly fascinating and impactful project for me. I learned so much about Discover, climate change, and myself through this project. Through my research into climate change and solutions for how consumers can counteract their carbon footprint, I learned the level of severity of the climate crisis, and how important it is that not only governments and large institutions get involved, but also individual consumers as well. Experts say we need to limit the growth of the average global surface temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid irreversible climate impacts, and I think that’s possible, but it will take all of us.

The learnings and feedback I gained from this experience are invaluable, and I’ll carry them with me throughout the rest of my career. I’m looking forward to returning to Discover in a full-time roll in Summer 2023.