It’s intimidating to walk into a new career (even an internship) with zero work experience in the field. But that’s exactly the situation that I, like many of my peers, are finding ourselves in at this moment.
Like many Boothies, I’m a career transitioner (military to consulting, in my case). Though I was comfortable leading 150 combat soldiers, I was quite nervous thinking about how I should interact with a client. Also, like many of my peers, I like experiential learning in addition to classrooms and coffee chats – feeling like I need to touch & feel a process before I really understand it.
Fortunately, Booth built a course that’s exactly what I needed: Strategy Lab, which is a hands-on class that pairs small teams of students with real clients, solving real problems, mentored by real consultants.
Enrolling in Strategy Lab in the spring quarter before my summer internship, our team took the Chicago-based brewers at Karma Kombucha from start to finish in a 10-week marketing strategy study.
Along with the learning that naturally occurred within my team and client relationship, my fellow Strategy Lab students and I spent several hours in the classroom every week with Professor Harry L. Davis – Chicago Booth’s leadership guru for over 50 years, and the man who invented the LEAD program that sets Booth apart as more than an amazing finance school (read more about Professor Davis in ChiBus).
Most of this classroom time with Professor Davis focused on developing our insight skills – learning how to reflect on experiences and outcomes, derive the right lessons, and improve future results. We were learning how to learn better – while having transformative experiences worth learning from.
Now that I’m halfway into my internship, I realize that, though there are few similarities between this startup beverage company and my current client, the foundations are the same: understanding the stakeholders, structuring a problem, managing workstreams, driving solutions, and being a supportive teammate. The “Pure Booth” approach of teaching frameworks, rather than particular skills, meant that the lessons I learned in Strategy Lab weren’t limited to the industry or function that I was serving during the course. What’s more, the insight skills I developed under Professor Davis ensured that my learning journey didn’t stop at the end of the spring quarter, but continue with me into my internship and beyond. Those skills are truly the gift that keeps giving.
Thanks to Strategy Lab – walking into the first weeks with my team and client were a little less scary than they would have been otherwise. That lets me stress a little less about work, and focus a little more on crushing rapids and mountains in my off-time with my Denver intern class!