Internships

Summer Internship Experience – Microsoft

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Evelyn Chiang - Microsoft Summer Internship

 

Working for Microsoft is like a dream come true since it was my goal when I applied to the Foster MBA program.

Over this past summer, I interned with Microsoft as a Partner Channel Marketing Manager Intern in the Worldwide Partner Group, under the Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners organization. Being an international student, even though I had similar marketing background in the technology hardware industry, working for Microsoft was still an eye-opening and a learning experience for me.

During the twelve-week internship, everyday was a new challenge since Microsoft is such a big organization and it required multiple stakeholders’ support to get things done. My project was to advocate the benefits of Microsoft’s Cloud solutions, and I worked closely with vendors to create training videos, blogs, and the worldwide partner training guidebook. It was truly rewarding to see my work being posted on the Microsoft Partner Network website which 400,000 plus partners use. Moreover, in order to get support from other stakeholders in rolling out the project, I had to overcome my shyness and proactively set up meetings with various colleagues to gain their buy-in. To my surprise, despite the fact that many colleagues were senior and very busy, they were still willing to spare time to listen to my pitch, and also gave me feedback, which truly demonstrated the teamwork and collaborative spirit at Microsoft.

I was also given a great opportunity to go on a business trip to Washington D.C. in July to attend the annual Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. It was an important event for the company as attendees came from over 150 countries and represented many of the most successful, top tier partners. I was thrilled to be there and talked to the partners in person. We also had fun watching the FIFA World Cup Championship game together!

Last but not least, Microsoft also cared a lot for interns. There were many speaker events where we got to meet CEO Satya Nadella, the CMO, the head of HR, and many others to learn more about the company. Let alone the fun intern activities to Leavenworth, Puyallup, Casino night, Lake Washington Cruise and kayaking in Portage Bay. I had a great time meeting other interns and the Microsoft internship experience is truly one of the most unforgettable summers I have ever had! I am excited to be going back to Microsoft for a full time role after completing my Foster MBA.

 

Evelyn Chia-Wei Chiang

Foster MBA, Class of 2015

A Summer Marketing Internship at Google Singapore

Friday, August 29th, 2014

This has been one of my favorite summers so far. I managed to get an internship at my dream company, Google, and in one of my favorite countries, Singapore. My role at Google is MBA Marketing Intern with the South East Asia, Small and Medium Business Marketing team.

The internship experience has greatly surpassed my expectations. First of all, I feel lucky that I’ve been given a real hands-on project for the summer. The amount of trust that has been placed in me and the resources I’ve been given make me feel that I am not just an intern. Instead, I am doing work that really matters for the users and the company. I’m involved in and actually lead certain key components of a regional marketing project and work closely with Googlers cross-functionally and cross-geographically. Moreover, my final delivery is a real program which will make an impact on both the end users and the company.

Secondly, I was a bit nervous on my first day. However, the moment I stepped into the Google office, I could see and feel the fun and open culture everywhere: the office design & decoration, interns’ high level of access to information, and of course the people I’ve met. Everyone, no matter how senior, is very approachable and open to talking with me. I have never been turned down or even responded to with hesitation when I reach out to ask job-related questions or request career advice. I am so lucky that my manager is a Foster MBA alumnus. He is always willing to share his personal experience and career advice with me. Every one-on-one session with him is more like a career coaching session.Hui Li Google Singapore 2

Now that I’m one year into my MBA program and two months into my internship, I see how I’ve changed substantially, especially in terms of strategic thinking and communication skills. There are so many moments during my work here that remind me of knowledge I acquired from group discussions at Foster. Moreover, the frameworks I learned from the classes are really helpful in solving the problems I encounter here.

There are only three weeks left of my internship. While I’m enjoying this great experience with Google, I’m going to be fully recharged for fall quarter!

Guest post by Hui Li, Class of 2015 MBA Candidate

A Summer Global Digital Marketing Internship at Starbucks

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Jamie Hui Internship starbucksSecuring an internship at Starbucks this summer had been a goal of mine since I started my Foster journey. I’ve always been drawn to Starbucks because I have a passion for food and I want to work for an innovative retail company with a strong consumer brand. This summer, I’m working on the Global Digital Marketing Team, focused on optimizing the performance of their social media campaigns.

I’ve learned so much about Starbucks and why they stand out, but I’ve also taken classes to become a Coffee Master, attended a Sounders game with my fellow intern class (in a box suite, nonetheless), and I’ve had great exposure to senior executives in the company.

Still, the best thing about my experience thus far is meeting the partners (employees) there. Everyone at Starbucks loves sharing their journey and they are so passionate about Starbucks – the company, the coffee, food, and the customer experience. What’s even better is the HUGE Foster alumni network at Starbucks and how supportive they are! They’ve set up “Ask Us Anything” sessions, happy hours and have even set aside time to watch us practice our presentations.  At Starbucks, this summer has been nothing short of amazing!

 
Guest post by Jamie Hui, Class of 2015 MBA Candidate

A Summer Strategy Internship at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Kate Thorson InternshipAs I near the end of my internship at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and take stock of my experiences this summer and what I’ve learned, I am repeatedly humbled to be part of this remarkable organization. The campus is teeming with the foremost experts in a plethora of fields from around the world. As interns, we’ve been given an incredible opportunity not only to attend the many talks and fireside chats with people like Peter Piot and Bill Nye, but also the chance to sit down with C-level executives from across the organization and ask them about their experiences, leadership approach, and vision for the organization. I’ve taken away many lessons from these chats, and equally important have learned much from the incredible cohort of interns from across the country.

I’ve been thrilled to dive head first into strategy work for one of the global health programs. In reflecting on what skills I’ve most applied from my first year at Foster, I think, at a high level, it’s a structured way of thinking: which I practiced through a combination of strategy and marketing classes, my applied strategy and Service Corps projects, and case interview preparation. There’s a wonderful sense of gratification in knowing that I’ve approached my work this summer differently as a result of my first year in the MBA program, and that I’ll approach my second year differently as a result of my experiences this summer.

I had high expectations for this summer…they’ve been far surpassed.

Guest post by Kate Thorson, Class of 2015 MBA Candidate

A Summer Marketing Internship at a High-Growth, High-Tech Firm

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Rachel_A internship compressed

Unlike many of my classmates who came into Foster with a laser focus on working at Amazon/Microsoft/Starbucks, I came into Foster with a desire to work at a certain type of company. I wanted to work at a high-growth, high-tech firm that was on the late side of early stage. One that was established and well-funded, but still operated like a start-up. I wanted to work at a firm that challenged the status quo and came up with a new way of doing things—a disruptor or a creator of their own space in the market. One that placed a high value on creativity, innovation, and new ideas. I also knew that I was interested in a Marketing or Communications role that was strategic. After spending a significant portion of my career in risk-averse, bureaucratic environments, I was excited to see what it was like on the other side.

I first heard of Apptio when taking the Software Entrepreneurship class with Greg Gottesman and Matt McIlwain, who are both managing directors at Madrona Venture Capital, where Apptio is a portfolio company. Through a random mix of networking, serendipity, and luck, I was contacted by an Apptio recruiter in the spring about interning with the Marketing Department on the Content Marketing team. Content Marketing turned out to be a great opportunity to combine my strategic communications background and the quantitative and analytical skills I have learned in the MBA.

Apptio is the most measurement-oriented company I have ever worked for. They measure everything and analyze all actions, tying them back to outcomes and results. All of the Marketing efforts are tied to sales goals. The company has a sophisticated sales funnel, and tracks all prospects on a detailed level.

My project is creating the SlideShare strategy and then creating presentations to post on the Apptio SlideShare channel. It is a fun challenge to come up with engaging and compelling content that explains a solution to complex, technical problems.

At my job before going back to school, I was the person everyone came to when they wanted to know what the latest social media and collaboration tools were. When I arrived at Apptio, I was greeted with a plethora of tools I had never heard of, such as Slack, Trello, and Marketo.

I am currently one month into the internship, and I have already learned so much. From the exposure to new tools to meeting great colleagues to understanding the sales funnel, this internship has been an excellent opportunity to see what it is really like to work at this type of firm.

Guest post by Rachel Azaroff, Class of 2015 MBA Candidate

A Summer in Consulting at McKinsey

Monday, August 4th, 2014

I’m a little over half way through my sJohnCzerniakMcKinseyummer as a consultant at McKinsey and I still don’t truly know how to describe what a consultant does. I can say that what we do, we do for many hours a day during the week and earn a few hotel points and airline miles along the way. This summer, I am involved in a high-level, corporate strategy project with a Fortune 100 company. It blows my mind that someone like me, only half-way through my Foster MBA, is influencing the strategic direction of a corporation with executives who have lived and breathed the industry for decades.

I knew going into my summer at McKinsey that I would have the opportunity to have real impact on big problems, but I never thought I would meet so many great people. I have to admit that prior to starting my internship, I had a certain stereotype in mind. However, aside from employees referring to McKinsey internally as “the Firm,” any notion of pretentiousness has been shattered. The nature of my project makes it fairly top-heavy, but despite my relatively minimal experience, I’ve been encouraged to speak up about my ideas and exercise an “obligation to dissent.” Inside the team room, all ideas are considered and reacted to based on the same criteria. The goal is client impact – whose mouth that impact comes from is unimportant.

The best part of my summer has been the chances I’ve had to spend time with fellow West Coast interns. At this moment, I’m at the Reno Airport getting ready to come back from a weekend spent with 50 other interns in Tahoe. Combining that with a conference in Florida and a training in San Francisco, I’ve developed friendships with some incredibly talented people. They come from colleges and business schools all over the country and from a wide range of experiences. I’m humbled to be part of this group and the amount I’ve learned from my new colleagues and friends has been invaluable. I’m excited to bring this experience back to Foster in the fall.

Guest post by John Czerniak, Class of 2015 MBA Candidate

Networking My Way to an Internship

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Last year as I began my internship search I found myself at an event that would require me to confront a situation I had worked hard to avoid in the past, networking at a job fair. I had always found the idea of shaking hands with recruiters and company reps to be almost alien. To me, these types of events always felt very forced and I really don’t like being forced to do anything. I have had coworkers and friends who seem to excel in these types of situations, who could network naturally, almost instinctively. They could walk into a room of strangers and leave with a room full of friends and contacts. When I entered a room, I was met with a paralyzing social anxiety. Oh, I’m affable enough, love telling jokes, sharing stories and the like and when I tell my friends about my anxiety, they refuse to believe that someone who seems so outgoing would be so internally anxious.

Regardless, there I was, a fresh faced first year MBA candidate on the hunt for an internship. I watched classmates converse with the various company representatives, shake hands, exchange business cards and resumes and leave with a solid prospect for an internship at a company that I would have loved to work at. Seattle is home to some of the top companies in the world, across a range of industries ranging from aerospace to software developers. Yet there I was, standing in the middle of a room with the people who could help me get a foot in the door and I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other to go talk to them.

That’s when my career coach, whom I had had previous conversations with in which we talked about my fear of such situations. She could sense my level of discomfort and encouraged me to head home for the day and come by her office the next day to talk about an alternative strategy in regards to finding an internship. So that’s what I did. I grabbed my jacket, headed home to work on my marketing case for the next day and made plans to come by the career center the next day.

After my morning class the following day, I headed over to meet with my coach to start laying out my alternatives, of which I was hoping there were many because I was getting worried that I would never land an internship. During our meeting we talked about how vast the Foster alumni network is and how eager they are to help fellow Foster-ites in the internship search. Knowing my distaste for large recruiting events, we talked about the possibility of setting up informational interviews, which were more personal and far less stressful for me. My coach showed me the catalog of former student resumes that career services keeps on file and encouraged me to look through them to see if any of the alumni were currently working in an industry I was interested in. She also encouraged me to use LinkedIn to reach out to Foster alumni as well as my personal network to see if there was anyone I could schedule an informational interview with. She even went so far as to reach out to her personal network to help me schedule informational interviews. Over the coming month, when I wasn’t powering through a case with my team, I set up a number of interviews with alumni, people within my personal network, second year students who had interned at companies last summer. At these interviews I would ask about their experience at the company, how they applied what they had learned as an MBA candidate and closed each conversation by asking if they new anyone else that they felt I should talk to.

After a number of these interviews, I met a former Foster student who worked at one of the larger advertising agencies in Seattle. We bonded over not just over having both having experienced the gauntlet that is the workload of first-year but non-academic interests as well. We closed our conversation with him letting me know that he would go by human resources in the morning to share my resume and to find out what the situation was with the agency’s internship program. One week later I received a call from the HR director inviting me in for an interview. I couldn’t believe it! My weeks of informational interviews had paid off! I went in that Friday for my interview and on Monday I had an email in my inbox with an offer.

If there was to be a moral from this story, it’s that there are many alternative paths to finding a summer internship, not just the job fairs. Find what works for you, work with your career coach and exercise your network. The perfect internship is out there, the trick is finding it.

~Guest Blogger Ben Reid, Full-time Class of 2013

Preparing for a Zombie Apocalypse

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

I spent my internship helping to usher in the zombie apocalypse. And by that, I mean I worked at PopCap Games – developer and publisher of titles such as Plants vs. Zombies, Bejeweled, and Zuma.

These are exciting times for casual gaming, as the industry is shifting at a remarkable pace. There has been a rapid movement away from the premium download model, where players pay once for unlimited use of the game, to a freemium model, where the player can play for free, but is encouraged to make in-game purchases.

Under the premium model, the key to success was convincing a large group of players to pay upfront for your game. Whether those players played the game for 3 days or 3 years had a limited impact on the developer’s bottom line. Under the freemium model, however, player retention is critically important. The more often players play, the more opportunity they have to make in-app purchases.

For one of my internship projects, I wrote a white paper on how competitors used virality mechanics within Facebook games (friend invites, gifting, posting updates, etc.) to enhance viral user acquisition and retention. So yes, I spent a big portion of my internship playing games on Facebook! But when I reflect on what I learned about customer acquisition and retention in casual games, I realize how applicable and valuable this knowledge is even in industries far removed from gaming.

Several of my smaller summer projects involved gaming analytics. Cue first quarter stats (especially regression and hypothesis testing)! With the shift to freemium games, some developers have found success by placing a heavy emphasis on testing and iteration. Imagine your game has a few million daily active users. Will total revenue go up if you decrease the price point of a particular in-game item? Will players invite more of their friends if they see a green “Invite” button or a blue one? Will players send more free gifts if they have one gifting option, three gifting options, or 20 gifting options? Rather than making a game-wide change and hoping for the best, developers can use A/B testing (or even multivariate testing) on small subsets of users, and only implement game-wide changes that show statistically significant improvements over the existing game features.

But perhaps the biggest takeaway from my internship was that my MBA experience has given me the skillset to add value, even in an industry where I had no previous experience. As a result, I am confident in my ability to significantly contribute to my fulltime employer – even if they are not in the zombie proliferation business.

~Guest Blogger Ethan Anderson, Full-time Class of 2013

A Software Company Promoting No Software?

Friday, September 14th, 2012

The cloud has been all the buzz lately in the tech industry. While some software companies have been slow to adopt this new technology/service-delivery model, salesforce.com has been a pioneer in the space since the early 90’s.

This summer, I worked at Salesforce as a product marketing intern with the Sales Cloud team. One of my main responsibilities was to help with Dreamforce, the company’s annual conference. Over a 4-day span, close to 40,000 attendees will have access to 750+ breakout sessions, where they can learn about our products and hear from our customers. I helped our team manage over 90 of these breakout sessions by finding session moderators, vetting through customer stories, and more. I also helped build out demo stations for the expo grounds, where attendees can experience our products first-hand.

Aside from Dreamforce responsibilities, I was asked to create a demo video for our Forecasting feature. The demo video will go up on the features section of the Sales Cloud website, and is used to attract new customers who want to learn more about our product. I worked closely with the Product Manager of the feature and my teammate to create a storyboard and script, and recently went into the studio to record the voiceover for the video. So if a career in the tech industry doesn’t pan out, there’s always the possibility of being the voice behind commercials or movies.

Outside of those major projects, I got to experience the day-to-day life of product marketers. I worked with and learned from a cross-functional team that had marketing campaigns people, SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) specialists, a software developer, and a copywriter and artist. It was interesting seeing how the different roles worked together towards a single goal.

And of course there were the great intern events and company perks. I got to hear from company leaders including COO George Hu (a former summer intern), Chief Creative Officer Bruce Campbell (who created the “No Software” logo), and even Peter Schwartz (a renowned futurist). And because Microsoft is a competitor, and their summer interns got a live concert at Gasworks Park (ask fellow Foster MBA candidates Taj Mathews, Aaron Shepherd, or Jessica Martin about that…), I have to ask…

Is there a better way to finish an internship than seeing the Red Hot Chili Peppers live, outdoors at the San Francisco Civic Center?

~Guest Blogger Nelson Haung, Full-time Class of 2013

Being an MBA Means Being Right, Right?

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

By Gwyn Gaubatz, Full-time Class of 2013.  Gwyn graduated from Smith College with a double-major in Computer Science and American Studies.  After teaching two years in rural Mississippi with Teach for America, she spent five years in the educational testing industry before her interest in organizational behavior and development drew her to business school.

Like many people, I don’t like being wrong.  And I hate being told that I have done something wrong.  For most of my professional life, being told that I have made an error, inadvertently caused a problem, or chosen the wrong course of action has been almost physically uncomfortable, a small spike of adrenaline that twists in my gut as I experience a sinking feeling of, oh no, oh no, how bad was it and can it be fixed ohnoitwasmyfault!

I can’t say this has made me a perfectionist, but I do think it’s a driving force behind some of my detail-oriented behaviors – checking, checking again; verifying authorization; planning in advance; asking question after question – as well as my penchant for trying to guess what people will need from me before needing to be told.

Of all the things I thought I would learn at business school (marketing, stats, networking, etc.), I actually did not expect to master this.  I mean, sure: I thought that an MBA would give me the tools to avoid making mistakes even more adroitly and give me the confidence that I would make the correct choices, again and again.  So, I didn’t exactly think an MBA would make me ‘perfect’, professionally, but I think that there was definitely, in the back of my mind, the hope that it would bring me closer to some kind of magically business-savvy infallibility.

HA!

Over the course of my first year at business school, I have learned that I cannot hope to be perfect-ish or anywhere near infallible.  This became very clear during my first quarter – not just that I would be wrong, sometimes, missing questions on homework assignments and quizzes and midterms – but also that I could really screw up: handling the financials of a case study on behalf of my team and missing a key step, or forgetting to produce exhibits for a deliverable, or pushing others to accept a marketing strategy and completely missing the 2 key drivers that could make that strategy successful. Given the amount of new information MBA students are expected to digest and apply (“drinking from a fire hose” is an apt cliché) over the course of each 10-week term, especially for those (like me!) with no practical or academic experience in the subject matter, it is simply impossible to be avoid doing something – sometimes many things! – wrong.

The point is not that business school has caused me to make mistakes; the point is that business school has taught me how to make mistakes gracefully and responsibly, and to recover from them nimbly, looking forward.  No more squirmy guilty stomach-aches of how could I have done something wrong?  Because there is simply no time for that.  There is only: what is the scope, how can we fix what needs to be fixed, what do we do next, what can we learn from what happened?

I still care dreadfully about devoting my best efforts to my teams, planning proactively, and trying to get it right the first time.  But I know that if I don’t get it right, it’s not the end of the world, and it’s not worth feeling sick over.  In fact, one month ago I was required to give a presentation on the research project I had been working on for the first 6 weeks of my internship.  As the first MBA intern to be hired by the company, there was no template in place for defining project deliverables or building out presentations and reports – I basically made that up as I went along, to the best of my ability, with some (but not a lot of) oversight.  And now I had to tell everybody what I did and how I did it!  The audience included the team I had been embedded in, the marketing team, senior managers from both sales and development, and, oh yeah: most of the c-suite, too; all in all, over a dozen people, with more calling in remotely.  The presentation was scheduled for 90 minutes.

Of course I was a little nervous – who wouldn’t be?  But I wasn’t really worried about getting something wrong.  I had been told before hand by multiple parties that the executives would likely break into the presentation at many junctures to comment, question, perhaps refute things they disagreed with.  I was told to expect lots of audience participation; to be prepared to have my arguments picked apart – it was par for the course.  Normally this would have been the worst part for me, but oddly, going into the meeting I wasn’t especially nervous about potentially being told I was wrong.  I was confident in the work that I had done, sure, but it wasn’t just that.  I was also comfortable with the knowledge that the presentation – much like the entire internship – was a learning experience, and that I could handle whatever was thrown at me with equanimity.  This frame of mind allowed me to respond thoughtfully and confidently to questions, and to absorb different interpretations eagerly, integrating them into later dialogues.  And let me tell you: there were a LOT of questions, and a lot of discussions.  I’m not going to lie, I was certainly sweatier leaving than I was going in.  But the comments and perspectives of the executives also helped to stretch my thinking and inform my approach to further projects.  In the end, the presentation was a great success.  But it could have turned out differently – and I think that knowing that and being comfortable with it was what allowed me to be decisive in my conclusions and poised in my speech.

So: if you are considering business school or about to enter as a first-year student, let me gently disabuse you of the notion that earning an MBA will allow you to win at business by being right all the time and by always making the best choice, the correct choice.  But it will teach you how to make a wrong  decision and recover, and being confident in your ability to manage good, unexpected or disappointing outcomes will most certainly enable you to assume responsibilities for big decisions.  You won’t be right all the time, but you will definitely be right for whichever job or leadership position you choose to pursue.