Summer Stories: Tech Internship in the Bay Area

Summer Stories: Tech Internship in the Bay Area

As I meandered down the street near Ocean Beach on a regular foggy San Francisco afternoon, I was getting restless. The restaurant I had been looking for on Google Maps seemed to be inappropriately closed. I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch and I had picked the place after pouring over a few too many reviews. I had just moved to SF a while earlier and I almost didn’t know anything about the city. For that day in particular, Google’s location and timing details seemed way off.

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Just then, I saw a lady in her mid-30s searchingly walking down the same street. It seemed like she was trying to find the same place. And she wore a maroon hat that said “Chicago Booth.” In our brief conversation, we connected over our shared agony of finding the place and then TNDC, life in MPP, and Product Management recruiting. She gave me a few restaurant recommendations nearby that would be open that day. An erstwhile unknown Boothie helping me out in an unexpected manner, thousands of miles away from Chicago — the experience almost capsulizes my internship experience in San Francisco.

I moved to San Francisco in early June to intern as a Product Manager at PayPal. I had never been to the city before. This was also the first time I ever worked at a large-scale tech company. My decision to move was an experiment to see if I liked it in the city. From the moment I moved, I realized this was going to be a novel experience compared to Chicago. I was excited since I was staying in a large house with a few other close Boothies. I was also nervous because my team at PayPal was extremely technical and in charge of significant B2B integrations. I had an engineering background and had worked as a Product Manager before in critical projects but was far from the scale of managing APIs that enabled trillion-dollar transactions.

Within the first week on the job, my reporting manager, a Senior Director and PayPal veteran, introduced me to the team. I received a warm welcome from the Product and Engineering leadership and was surprised at the level of diversity. After a quick LinkedIn search-and-stalk session, I reached out to a few Boothies, at various levels within PayPal and all of them enthusiastically agreed to meet me.

One of them, a Senior Product Manager, offered pertinent advice on how to strategize the internship project and develop the Product Manager toolkit. Another, a Director who had been at the firm for a while, offered insights into building a long-term career at PayPal. Another Senior Manager invited me to lunch and unpacked the tactical yet sensitive topics of the recruiting process such as compensation with radical candor and honesty. These Boothies made me feel like I had champions in the organization rooting for me. I had personally experienced the pay-it-forward culture multiple times at Booth, but it was still heartwarming to see the culture continued for years after.

Bolstered by the support, I was able to put my best foot forward during the internship. It ended on a high when I, along with three senior engineers, participated in the PayPal Hackathon and managed to win it. Looking back, the initial support I received not just from my team but from Booth alums across the company gave me the conviction to pursue the 12-week internship with confidence and purpose.

In conclusion, my experience interning as a Product Manager at PayPal in San Francisco was a defining moment in my career. Not only was I able to work at a large-scale tech company and learn from some of the best in the industry, but I also had the support of fellow Boothies who helped guide me through the process. The fact that more and more Boothies are joining tech companies every year is a testament to the value that we bring to the industry. With the recent appointment of John Kim, ‘99, as Chief Product Officer at PayPal, it’s clear that Booth MBAs are well-respected and highly sought after in the product management field. As I look to the future, I am confident that Boothies will continue to grow and support each other through this dynamic time in the industry.