A number of channels exist to help Foster MBAs find summer internships following their first year of business school, from on-campus recruiting to internal and external job boards, to alumni connections and corporate networking contacts. Here is one account.
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.
A week ago Tuesday I got a call around 2 PM. I was still in my pajamas, heating up some pea soup for lunch after an early nap on a grey Seattle afternoon. I had a To Do list, of course: laundry, cleaning, and a growing list of even more internships opportunities that needed my attention by way of resume revisions, tailored cover letters, research, and networking connections to be made. But also, I had the whole week wide open in front of me, with plenty of time to do that all…after I caught up on some season finales on hulu.com. Such was the lovely state of my life after finals! I turned from the stove to answer my cell and was greeted by an enthusiastic recruiter. Her company would like to interview me!
Well, this was a lovely turn! I stumbled through the beginning of the conversation because, you see, I did not know this company off the top of my head – and did not recall directly applying for any position with them. But once I was told she had received my resume from the Foster School of Business, everything clicked into place. The career center had put me forward as a candidate for a new internship that had suddenly become available. So I expressed that I would be delighted to interview, and pulled out my calendar book. We quickly scheduled a series of three (three? Yes, three!) interviews for that Thursday, beginning at 8 AM.
After I got off the phone (and helped myself to some organic Trader Joe’s soup), I sent a quick note to my career counselor, Susan Canfield, and looked up the company on the internet. As I was perusing their web site, my career counselor responded – congratulations! and also yes, we should meet to prepare – so I turned it around and arranged to come into the career center the very next day.
My meeting with Susan was very busy, but very productive: we talked about the company and the likely project opportunities, and she gave me a laundry list of further research I should do that night to prepare: reading up on the industry, not just the company; scoping out the LinkedIn profiles of my interviewers, looking into similar positions on the Foster job board to get a better sense of the responsibilities and requirements of typical product management work. Susan also drilled me on my responses to typical interview questions and helped me brush up (and abbreviate) some stories I tried that felt shaky. Finally, before I left, she identified a Foster MBA alumn already working at the company, and sent a quick introductory note suggesting we talk. Phew! I had a lot to do that evening to get ready!
Amazingly, within 5 minutes the alumn had responded with contact information and a time to call that same night – and I realized how truly phenomenal the Foster network can be. Later that evening, he spared a half an hour to walk me through the industry, the company, and the staff I would be meeting with the following morning. I was incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with him and gain his perspective and support.
Armed with his insights and notes from my own research, I put myself to bed. I slept well for maybe the first 4 hours before waking once to use the bathroom, and then every half hour afterwards in a fit of nerves, glancing at the clock to make sure I had not missed my alarm (I never miss my alarm! But still…). I finally broke the cycle at 5:30 AM when I arose to shower, eat, and suit up. And then I grabbed my folio, checking to make sure it was stocked with copies of my resume as well as business cards, and hopped into the car hoping to beat rush-hour traffic to Bothell.
By 10 AM I was turned around and heading back home – all my manic prep work had paid off! Each of my interviews had gone well, I believed, developing into something that felt more like a conversation than a critical back-and-forth. I was able to speak about the MBA program, my experience with teams; my interests in the industry and the ties between the position and my experience; my goals for the future and how they oh-so-snugly fit with this company, right here – and this position, right now! Better yet, after all my research and this series of conversations, I felt genuinely excited at the prospect of working there, with the team that had interviewed me, on the projects that had been discussed.
Later that afternoon – a mere 48 hours after I became aware of the opportunity! – I got another call, this time one I had been told to expect – and I was offered the internship.
I enthusiastically accepted.