Preparing for your Summer Internship: Finding your Anchors

Rohan Hemrajani, Class of 2017

Rohan Hemrajani, Class of 2017

As you start your summer internships, you are going into a new and unfamiliar environment, where you would need to prove yourself worthy for a full-time gig in less than 10-12 weeks. I walked into Ecolab Inc. in Minneapolis for my summer internship that encompassed a whole lot of unknowns: the city, the industry, the role, the team and the company itself. In order to maximize my productivity and experience, I had to anchor myself to people within the company who can help me settle down quickly, and also contribute towards a success summer: people who can support me beyond the professional context. I called them my “go-to team.”

Who can they be?

Essentially, your anchors should be employees within the organization who have spent a considerable time in the company as well as the location. They can be someone who you have some similarity with, such as company division, business school, work floor or even ethnic background. My “go-to team” comprised of my manager, my team’s director, 2015 Booth alumni and a fellow Indian who had his work station right next to me.

What can they support you in?

It is important to build personal relationships with your anchors, to enable trust and support beyond your project. Some of the different areas I took support in were: feedback and run-through on final presentation, who to network with and how, fun things to do in the city, and even pursuing common interests together. The interactions could range from personal to professional contexts: from a formal meeting to getting drinks or even catching up over the weekend.

Recognize that you may need more than just one type of anchor. Find a diverse group of people to surround yourself with.

Recognize that you may need more than just one type of anchor. Find a diverse group of people to surround yourself with.

How can you sustain these relationships?

Your anchors should know that you value their feedback and trust their opinion. This makes them more invested in your development and experience. I often openly communicated this to my anchors, and it fostered a stronger bond with them. Beyond communication, it was also important for me to maintain regular interaction with them. The conversations shouldn’t always be when you need some kind of support. I used to often catch up with my anchors, and have meaningful conversations with them about their personal interests and background or their professional goals. This way, you are also building long-term relationships, but do not do this with the intent of sustaining anchors; be genuinely interested in building these relationships.

The first few days of your internship are overwhelming because you are getting to know new people, while trying to figure out the scope of your project. Hopefully, you find your anchors in these days so they could help get you over this feeling faster and can direct you towards a successful summer stint.

Stay focused on your chosen career path

By Madeline King, Class of 2017 Career Adviser 

By Madeline King, Class of 2017 Career Adviser 

January and February can be challenging times if you’re doing a specialized search that involves mainly off-campus recruiting. The pull of the “herd mentality” is stronger than ever as people file in and out of Harper in suits, chatting eagerly about their on-campus interviews and offers. However, if that’s not your chosen path, don’t get distracted! Instead, focus on what you can do to put your own best foot forward, even if it looks quite different from many of your peers.

As someone who is running their own specialized search, I can vouch for the start of the New Year as an incredibly valuable time to make substantial strides in networking and job applications for a wide range of opportunities, whether it’s in social impact, venture capital, or entrepreneurship. Here are a few tangible action items to pursue:

  1. Keep up the networking! For many people doing specialized searches, such interactions can create leads for both summer and full-time roles. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so leverage the flexibility you have now in your schedule to build relationships that will pay dividends for years to come. If you met with people earlier in the school year, now is the time to touch base with them via an update email or phone chat.  

  2. Spend more time off-campus in winter and spring quarters than you did during the fall quarter to ensure that you are getting valuable facetime with the opportunities you want to pursue. Consider arranging your academic and extracurricular schedule to accommodate those coffee chats you’ve been wanting to have or self-guided treks you’ve been wanting to make. Remember that you have to go find things—they are probably not going to come to you!

  3. Take a lab class or access other experiential learning opportunities--great ways to start building real work experience in a new space. You can source these through a combination of the Booth curriculum, clubs, competitions, and the alumni network, as well as the various incubators and affiliation groups located throughout Chicago.

  4. Remember that on-campus resources are still valuable. Continue to monitor on-campus events and GTS for opportunities that may be a good fit for you. Pro tip: set up alerts using the “Advanced Search” function so that you don’t have to check GTS manually.

  5. Iterate on your target list as you get new information and make connections. A place that you really liked in October may no longer be viable by January, and that’s fine. At any given point in time, try to have 5-10 places you’re pursuing, in terms of networking, learning about their work, and so on.

The Booth community can offer a tremendous amount of support for non-herd activities, especially if you’re courageous and speak up about what you’re looking for. Best of luck staying strong and focused on your chosen career path, and know that we are cheering for you and always available to help!

Madeline is always available (by appointment) to chat with students about their career paths.

Words of Wisdom for Off-Campus Recruiting

By John Brennan, Class of 2017 Career Adviser

By John Brennan, Class of 2017 Career Adviser

As winter quarter kicks off and the consulting and banking offers begin to cascade down on Harper, it’s a good time for those students involved in less traditional recruiting to keep perspective and double down on your searches.

While most who are focused off-campus have enjoyed avoiding the frantic pace of coffee chats and “suited-up” networking activities of the fall, that self-reassuring mantra that “my recruiting happens late” starts to carry less weight when it starts to feel…late.

So here are four simple tips for those who will be on the internship hunt well into spring.

You still have time. With about 23 weeks before heading out for the summer, you have plenty of opportunities to seek out and pursue your first, second, and third tier choices.  There are second-years who recruited well into May and June, and it’s not evident that there is any correlation between getting an internship early and job satisfaction. For example, Tom Brady didn’t get a job until the end of the 2000 draft, and he seems pretty happy. You made a decision at some point that you wanted to recruit off-campus, and you did so with the understanding that there would be more uncertainty in your process.  Don’t freak out about not having a job because you’re actually right on schedule.

Put your foot on the gas. You likely spent much of the fall laying out a strategy, but now is the time to start executing.  If you want to do venture capital in San Francisco, you need to be out there talking to founders and investors; if you want to work for a start-up in Chicago, you should be a regular at 1871 (222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza). Start grinding through that list of contacts you found on LinkedIn, cash in any chits that you’ve been saving, and if you have any obvious gaps, aggressively address them.

...it’s not evident that there’s any correlation between getting an internship early and job satisfaction.

It’s going to be OK. Internship placement was 100% last year; you are very unlikely to be an unwilling exception here.  You may not get your dream job, but there are a ton of ways to gain valuable experience, and the broader your definitions of success and happiness are, the more likely you are to feel good about your result.  It’s just a ten-week internship – this is as good a time to take a chance on something less traditional, so have fun with it!

Ask for help. There are plenty of people on campus who have dealt with the uncertainties and insecurities that are part of this wonderful recruiting process.  Talk to second years who followed a similar path, and use the stories of their successes and failures to optimize on your recruiting strategy.

Being at Booth, you are already in a great position to pursue your dream job, and while the stresses of recruiting are real, keeping that perspective will help maintain sanity throughout the process. If you view this time as an opportunity rather than as an obstacle, you will be just fine come June.

John is always happy to help with career advice--whether you are participating in on-campus or off-campus recruiting.

I love it when a plan comes together

By Matt Richards, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

By Matt Richards, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

It took until mid-November this year but fall is finally in the air. Thanksgiving is upon us. For first years, your first quarter is nearly over and Winter Break and all of its ski-trip glory is just around the corner. Almost time to kick your feet up and relax, right? In the words of our President-Elect: “WRONG!”

It may initially seem counterintuitive, but now really is the time to begin putting together your detailed recruiting plan. Corporate conversations have wrapped up and hopefully you’ve found the industry and set of firms that you would like to target. With finals, applications, career treks all looming in the next month, having a well-structured plan is critical to ensuring your success in the recruiting process. Here are some planning suggestions to help you achieve your ideal recruiting outcome:

Solidify your list of target firms. Be sure to prioritize this list into your top choices, your second-tier choices, and your fallback options. Try to target an initial list of at least 10-15 firms in rank order. Yes, that might seem like a lot but it’s always easier to whittle down the list than start too narrow! Keep in mind how many are on-campus vs. off-campus as this will dictate their recruiting schedules.

Map out everything you want to accomplish between now and the beginning of Winter Quarter. Write out the application deadlines for all of your target firms (you could include this info in your above list). How many require cover letters? Make sure you demonstrate you are highly knowledgeable about the firm (and why it’s unique!). Will you need to do case prep over break? Practice valuations? Craft a stock pitch? Make sure you include that into your plan. Are you going on a career trek? Plan on doing some company research. Do you want to have some informal networking calls/chats over the break? Try to schedule those before winter break starts.

Prioritize how you want to allocate your time. This element is critical. How soon are your applications due? Some are due before the break so prioritize your cover letters and applications accordingly. After applications are submitted, will you need more preparation on technical or behavioral questions? What about further company research? This will dictate how much time you allocate to each. Try to be specific with your planning estimates. In addition, overestimate how much time you’ll need and start early. Better to feel over-prepared than cramming come January!

Stick to your plan! While we are all inclined to pull on a cozy sweater, grab a book (who are we kidding? It’s really Netflix), and cozy up by the fire (TV) with our favorite warm beverage, this upcoming break from classes is some of the most valuable time you will have in preparing for interviews. Make it a goal to set aside at least one hour a day preparing for interviews or working on your recruiting efforts.

Building and executing a detailed recruiting plan may not be what you envisioned doing over winter break but it could be one of the most instrumental elements of your recruiting process. Two months from now, offer from your top choice in hand, you may find yourself whipping out a cigar and, in your best Hannibal Smith voice, muttering to yourself, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Matt is a Career Advisor and he is happy to help with recruiting (by appointment).

Your Cover Letter Sets You Apart from the Pack

By Brian Tung, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

By Brian Tung, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

Networking like a pro is well underway and it’s time to start thinking about those stories you will be telling in interviews.  One of the best places to start thinking about what sets you apart from the pack is your cover letter.  

Over this autumn quarter, I’ve met so many talented first-years with impressive and unique backgrounds: from submarine officers and Teach for America administrators, to past consultants, bankers, and analysts.  When thinking about cover letters (and interview stories in general), the biggest piece of advice I’ve given to all of them is to embrace your past.  

To those with non-traditional backgrounds worried that a firm won’t be interested because you don’t have business experience, think hard about how your experiences in the past involved analysis and critical thinking (I promise you, they’re there!) and then highlight those attributes while still displaying the wonderful uniqueness of your background.  

For those with traditional business backgrounds who are nervous you won’t be unique enough, embrace the fact that you’ve seen the way businesses face and address their challenges and how you’ve contributed to those strategic decisions.  Everyone in the Booth community has a tremendous background that can be tailored and articulated in a way that is both impressive and practical.  

Here are a few additional tips as you think about your stories:

1. A cover letter is a complement to your resume. This means that you don’t need to rehash everything you’ve ever done in your career. That’s already in your resume! Pick a story or two that you think effectively demonstrates everything you try to convey in your resume (analysis, leadership, critical thinking, teamwork) and try to tell it in a succinct manner.  The SOAR method works well as a framework for cover letters (not just for interviews)!

2. Don’t be generic with your cover letters. It’s incredibly easy to tell when someone wrote a cover letter designed to say “Dear [Firm], I am interested in [role].”  Some of the best parts about being at Booth are the tremendous opportunities that are in front of us career-wise. You should be excited about whichever job you’re applying for, so tell them why! Do your research about the firm, industry, and role, and then articulate why you are the perfect fit for it.

3. Remember that we have tremendous resources at Booth to help you succeed. If you have any questions or are having trouble telling your story, Career Coaches, Career Advisors, and your peers are all here for you.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to anyone you think can help you.

The last word of encouragement I have for anyone worried about telling their story in an effective manner is this: Admissions is very good at what they do, and you’re here for a reason. Keep that in mind and go win that dream job!

Brian is happy to review cover letters in exchange for a frosty beverage (or a simple GTS appointment registration) at any time!

The Tipping Point of Feedback

By Michelle DiMattia, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

By Michelle DiMattia, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

As a Career Advisor I spend a lot of time helping students sharpen the various tools in their recruiting toolbox: the perfect resume, the attention-grabbing elevator pitch, the compelling cover letter, and the insightful question that cuts through what can feel like recruitment propaganda.

I truly believe that working with someone else can provide tremendous value when preparing for the various aspects of recruiting.  

  1. An outside perspective can see how a point on your resume highlights the success of a project rather than just celebrating the impact you had on that project.

  2. Someone from a different background can help you cut out the jargon you didn’t realize was actually distracting from your elevator pitch.  

  3. Someone who has recently been through the recruiting process can help you focus on highlighting the stories or skills that were top of mind for recruiters.

At Booth, where the pay-it-forward culture is so strong, there is never a shortage of people willing to help and provide guidance!

However, despite the tremendous value that can be gained from external review, there inevitably comes a point when you no longer benefit from seeking out that additional feedback.  There are two main reasons for this.  

First, recruiting is inherently subjective because what is considered valuable or desirable will differ amongst firms.  And this is exactly why seeking out diverse perspectives for input on your recruiting approach is so valuable!  Yet, too many opinions can sometimes lead candidates to dilute or contradict their message in an effort to try to appeal to each person’s definition of “value”.  

Second, in recruiting--as is the case in business generally--the law of diminishing returns applies.  I remember getting to a point last year where I spent hours swapping action verbs on my resume because my mentor told me one thing and Management Consulting Group (MCG) told me another. Or spent hours trying out different ways to emphasize leadership and teamwork in my interview examples because peers gave different advice.  And while it was important to have strong action verbs and punchy interview stories, I definitely hit a point where the effort I was putting in was far greater than the benefit I was getting out.   

...in recruiting—as is the case in business generally—the law of diminishing returns applies.

Again, I am not saying that review and feedback is not important – I think it is critical! But I do believe that it is important to always be conscious of the value you are expecting and the value you are actually gaining. My best advice is to take a minute to think about the value you want to get from each recruiting activity early on.  Whether it is a resume review, a coffee chat or case drills, ask yourself what you hope to gain from each activity. And equally as important, be honest with yourself about when you’ve hit a certain saturation point.  Recognizing that can can allow you to redirect your efforts to another activity where you can truly benefit.

Michelle is ready to complicate recruiting preparation by giving Boothies some of that much-needed career advice. By appointment of course.  

The Road Less Taken

By Alyssa Jaffee, Class of 2016 Career Advisor

By Alyssa Jaffee, Class of 2016 Career Advisor

Spring quarter in a Booth student’s second year is a time for most students to kick back, relax, and enjoy their last bits of freedom before Corporate America takes hold. Students find more time for leisure activities than they ever had before, soaking in the beautiful views with sunshine, great friends, and tasty, frosty beverages.

I, however, chose to follow a different path. In my final months of business school, I decided to take on a full-time job. Not just any job, but a job to build a company within the New Venture Challenge (NVC), sponsored by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Chicago Booth.

I was recruited by my friend and CEO of TransparentMBA, Mitch Kirby, who shared with me the incredible vision he had for the business. Hesitant at first to give up my last moments of freedom, I had to weigh my options: Do I spend my last couple of months working hard, or do I head to the beach for the rest of the spring? Ultimately, I couldn’t resist the lure of doing something new and getting the NVC experience everyone spoke so fondly about. So, I came on board.

Class of 2016 TransparentMBA co-founders, Jeremy Selbst, Mitch Kirby, Alyssa Jaffee, and Kevin Marvinac, pose like bosses.

Class of 2016 TransparentMBA co-founders, Jeremy Selbst, Mitch Kirby, Alyssa Jaffee, and Kevin Marvinac, pose like bosses.

At first, I assumed I was just doing it to get a new experience and participate in NVC. However, soon after joining the team, I realized that this was an opportunity of a lifetime. I get to help build a company that I believe in wholeheartedly, and I get to do it with the backing and support of the entire Booth community.

TransparentMBA provides insights into compensation and satisfaction data for the MBA community. With thousands of MBA students on the platform, I have now seen the power of the data and feel lucky that I get to be a part of the team.

So, when you think about all that free time you might have or the abundance of experiences you might forgo, think again. Opportunities that allow you to really get a feel for a new experience are worth it, I promise!  Oh, and don’t worry, I do find time for those beach days too!

Alyssa is a Venture Capital Career Advisor who, as a child, was once in the circus. She has also been to 96 of the top 100 US cities!

 

Career Advisor: A Year in Review

Rahul Prasad '14

Rahul Prasad '14

After preparing for the GMATs, applying to Booth, and spending countless hours coffee chatting and at closed-list dinners, structuring my thoughts, and synthesizing my results in numerous case interviews, I finally received an offer from Bain San Francisco, my top choice. I enjoyed my summer, learned a lot, and made many friends, but despite receiving a full-time offer at the end of the summer, I was conflicted. I loved the folks at Bain and liked consulting but ultimately it wasn’t the right fit for me.

First years are repeatedly advised to have a “Plan B” during recruiting. Rarely do they receive advice about having a Plan B in case they secure their dream internship but eventually decide it’s not the right fit for them. There are two possibilities: first, you enjoy the industry but don’t see a fit with your firm. Second, you don’t see a fit with the industry.

In the first case, your top priority is to ensure that you receive an offer from your summer firm that you can leverage during full-time recruiting. Be judicious about networking with other firms during your internship if there is a possibility that word may reach your host firm. However, be prepared to build contacts and attend networking events with other firms immediately after your summer internship. Consulting and banking full-time recruiting events start as early as late August.

The second case is harder, and it is where I found myself. While you will not receive much pity from your classmates, I do have some advice to hopefully preempt and otherwise manage this state. First, refer back to your Career Services self-evaluations to refresh your understanding of your skills, drivers, and interests. Evaluate the internship in light of this perspective.

Second, consider the possibility of recruiting for a second internship in the late summer. This could provide you with additional experience to help you gain perspective on the type of work that is a great fit for you. LEAD facils do not have this option, but everyone else could consider a second internship instead of traveling. The options may be limited, but some students have been able to obtain a second internship with private equity or venture firms, startups, or non-profits.

Third, as you work through the summer, consider what industry and role may be a better fit for your interests. Focus on what energizes and motivates you. Your task is doubly difficult because you must get the offer, do some very deep soul searching and then pivot into a new industry in the fall. Remember that a full-time offer will help with re-recruiting and negotiating compensation packages, even across industries.

Lastly, network! Reach out to classmates and non-Booth friends in the industry that you think would be a better fit and build your contacts. Referrals from existing employees can dramatically increase your chances of gaining an interview.

My own story ended well. I reached out to my contacts at Google and interviewed for and accepted a product manager role. I am currently deciding on teams and looking forward to a role in which I can create and launch new technology products, my true passion.