The start of Fall Quarter is only a couple weeks away for second year students at Booth. As we wrap up our summer internships, The Booth Experience team took a moment to reflect on our experiences and what we will take away from our time on the job.
“If I take nothing else away from my internship, I’ll at least remember…”
Austin: The importance of being flexible. Having come from a large technology company, I was accustomed to order, structure, and protocols already set in place. However, this summer, I interned at an early stage startup, and it really put me outside of my comfort zone. During the first week, instead of learning the existing company culture, I was tasked with defining it in the company culture document. As the fifth employee, I also implemented an onboarding procedure for new employees to organize the paperwork and streamline the orientation process. Also, during my time at the startup, we lost our designer for the product, so I started the process of finding and hiring new talent.
Even though I was originally hired in the role of product marketing manager, I ended up wearing many different hats this summer. While it was challenging, I learned a lot about the health tech business, a lot about startups, and a lot about myself.
Amruta: How to get up to speed quickly in a new setting, working in cross-functional teams for different clients that kept me on my toes for the ten weeks of summer.
Ray: The impact of connecting classroom learning to real world problems. Less than a week into my internship as a product manager at VMware, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. So when my mentor asked me to improve the PM process by helping the product team ideate solutions to solve pressing customers’ needs, I was really impressed by the open-minded environment… but also felt clueless.
Desperately searching through my memory for anything related, I uncovered a gold mine—Developing New Product Lab—the course I took that provided frameworks for coming up with innovations by assigning students to work with real companies. Selecting relevant and practical techniques from my arsenal, I applied them to the problems the product team was trying to solve and introduced ideation practice to my colleagues. And they love it! We even made it a regular part of the process to help the team generate innovative solutions.
Even better, I was given an opportunity to facilitate a session with the CTO Ambassadors—a group of the best sales and consultants from the field. Thanks to the trust the VMware team dared to place on an intern, not only was I able to make an impact on the product, but also on the process of how the products are designed. Credits also go to Professor Art Middlebrooks and my course group!
Oma: That just because you said something, doesn’t mean that the other person heard the same thing. I worked with a multi-cultural, multi-national team representing six countries, if you don’t count me. We all spoke English and when it came to work-related conversation, we understood each other. The more nuanced aspects of communication, however, were where we had to try a bit harder to comprehend.
Sometimes, the way one member of the group phrased our words would cause someone else to pause or frown and it was so easy to miss the cue. I learned to look for that subtle message and to listen to what wasn’t said as much as what was said. I also learnt to clarify and tell people when I thought they were saying something that I wasn’t comfortable with. More often than not, it was an interpretation error. Also; if you’re very noisy, a rattlesnake may rattle before you get too close to it.
Michelle: How fun FNDC’s were! During the academic year, I fully embrace the TNDC (Thursday Night Drinking Club) tradition. I am definitely not the biggest partyer—I do not go out the hardest or stay out the longest—but I love TNDC because it is a fun opportunity to hang out with and get to know classmates outside of classes and recruiting environments.
However, Thursday nights are less conducive to frosty beverages and late nights when you have to get up for work on Friday mornings, as many of us did for our internships. Luckily, there was a great crew of Boothies interning in the Chicago area who similarly wanted to continue the TNDC tradition, but also wanted to make a good impression at our jobs.
So, alas, the tradition of FNDC was born! And every Friday, someone nominated a bar in a new neighborhood and Boothies from far and wide came together to relax after a week of work and catch up on how our summers were going. It was just another reason why I love Booth!!
Nithin: That an MBA-level role means the training wheels come off. I had much less oversight than with previous jobs and I’d imagine much of that is by design. Not only does this degree put you in the room with companies and roles that were previously difficult to attain, it also raises the expectation of your performance upon starting your employment.
I enjoy the ambiguity because it allows creativity to fill the void left by lack of clear instruction. That being said, the skillset required changes a bit when an assignment isn’t handed down in conjunction with a friendly list of steps to follow. Over the course of my internship, I learned how to handle situations where I didn’t have all the information but was able to trust my instinct enough to make an educated assessment. I really started to recognize that this was no longer the minor leagues when my team and senior leadership made decisions based off of the analysis and recommendation I provided.
Ultimately, the internship is intended to provide insight into post-MBA life. Understanding your importance in the organization and the corresponding expectations will go a long way in meeting them.