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.

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.’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.

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!

Making Networking Work for You

By S. Abigail Adams, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

By S. Abigail Adams, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

Networking. If the word has begun to induce symptoms of anxiety, you are not alone. While it’s obvious networking is important, it’s not always obvious how to do it right: when and with whom should these interactions take place, and what should they look like?

The key to demystifying networking is to approach it as a tool rather than a task. Consider where you are in the internship search process: what are your current goals, what information do you need to achieve them, and who is best equipped to provide those insights? Grounding the conversations you have through the course of your search in this kind of framework will transform the vague directive to network into organic relationship-building and information gathering.

Right now, you are likely building your resume and considering your recruiting strategy. Your task is to align your interests, experiences, and goals with a directional focus on particular roles and/or industries. You will want to understand, for example, what skills are needed to succeed in a particular kind of role and whether the environment of a given function/industry is consistent with your working style and personal values. Programming during orientation and ongoing deep dives are designed to identify and provide access to the people and resources you need to answer these questions.

Booth students hard at work crossing the “to-dos” off their lists.   Courtesy of Chicago Booth Image Library  .

Booth students hard at work crossing the “to-dos” off their lists. Courtesy of Chicago Booth Image Library.

When companies start coming on campus and you begin pursuing outside opportunities, your focus shifts to developing a target list. And yes, you are supposed to start “networking.” The key here is to avoid the perspective that networking is a goal in itself. Try not to let the “need” to linger for questions after a presentation, to ask a memorable question in a crop circle, or to reach out to an alumni for a coffee chat distract you from the real purpose of these opportunities--which is ultimately to help you decide which particular companies and roles may be right for you. Depending on what you value most in your search, that might be how a role will offer opportunities to develop and work towards your longer term goals or whether the way a company’s employees interact will make you feel engaged and motivated. This isn’t a new process; it’s just gathering company- and role- specific information from those best equipped to provide it.

As interview season approaches, you will want to continue to develop and maintain your network. How many times should you reach out, and to how many people? Again, you can ground these follow-on conversations in the goals at hand in your search process: writing cover letters and preparing for interviews, which require identifying and communicating the qualities and skills that will make you successful in a role. Perspectives from more tenured employees and more personal conversations with existing contacts can help you do just that.

In the midst of the frenzy, try to remember: networking should help you cross the to-dos off your list, not make it longer.

S. Abigail, a second year Career Adviser, is a happy to be lending a hand to first-year students during the recruiting process.

6 Tips for Managing Your Summer Internship

By Nelson Yan, Class of 2016 Career Advisor

By Nelson Yan, Class of 2016 Career Advisor

With a month to go in your first year, you are probably freaking out about your summer internship: Where am I going to live? Why is the rent so damn high? (shout out to my NY and SF peeps!) I have to wake up at 7am every weekday? Yes. Can I stay at Booth forever? you should probably try and get a full-time offer. How do I maximize my chances for a full-time offer? Keep reading. Trust me, I was in the same boat last year. Here are a few pieces of advice as you venture into your summer.

1. Set the tone early before your internship. Reach out to your manager and ask him/her if there are any readings or materials you could preview to hit the ground running the first day. This sends a strong signal and helps you differentiate yourself from the crowd. It is never too early to get to know someone. 

2. Scope out your project and manage expectations. This is arguably the most important thing. Have an early discussion with your manager about what you are supposed to accomplish and be realistic. Set goals that are measurable and challenging, but ones you can achieve. You should also regularly review these goals with your manager to make sure you can hit them.

3. Build your network within the company. Talk to people from different departments and at different levels within the organization to find out how people actually like working at the firm. Figure out if this is a place you enjoy and where you can see yourself working longer term. Remember you are evaluating the firm also. And keep in mind that it is helpful to identify/ have champions that will vouch for you when your manager is asking around for opinions on whether or not to hire you late in the summer. 

Take a deep breath, and impress...

Take a deep breath, and impress...

4. Stay hungry and humble. Be confident and leave your ego at the door. Work hard, learn as much as you can, and be helpful to your fellow interns. Everyone knows you are smart; what they do not know is if you have the character and dedication to succeed.

5. De-risk… De-risk… De-risk… When you do your final presentation with your team, it should not be the first time your manager is seeing the presentation. Take your deck and review it with key influencers within the group beforehand. Think about all the key deliverables you will have and make sure there are no surprises when you are asked to deliver them.

6. Be thankful. Write thank you notes. People will always remember.

I had an awesome summer in San Francisco and got to know a great group of Boothies really well. I am thankful for that. I trust that you will have a successful internship and summer as well. Good luck!

Nelson is secretly plotting to be a surf bum once he moves out to San Francisco! 

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!


Spring Job Search: The Best Might Just Come Last

Cathy Hsu '16, Career Advisor

Cathy Hsu '16, Career Advisor

From the mountains of Kilimanjaro, to the Dead Sea, Boothies have been all over the world this past spring break! For those who already nailed down full-time positions and summer internships — congratulations!  Make sure you join different groups to explore all the interesting, non-recruiting related events that the Booth community has to offer. For those who are still searching, I’d like to share a few tips with you from my own experience as a spring recruit. 

Narrow your target. 

While you still have a good chunk of time for recruiting, 10 weeks can go by quickly. Therefore, you should have clear preferences for roles and locations so that you can spend your time focused on a short list of ideal firms. While a great tool, resist the urge to rely solely on GTS. Instead, utilize external job boards and company websites to check if full-time/ internship positions recently posted. Don’t worry if your qualifications don’t fit the description entirely. The most important thing for you is to have an understanding about the company, and know why you want to work there and your goals. 

Be specific in email communications.

When proactively approaching your contacts in the company, make sure your email contains the following 3 main points: who you are, what you want, and why an interest in the company. For small start-ups, a unique answer for “why this company” is a must-have. Also, be concise. No one has time to read a lengthy email from an MBA student, so optimize your email for the reader so that they can identify your intentions within the first few sentences. It not only saves them time reading, but also saves you time waiting for a response —they can quickly give you a yes or no response.

No worries.

No worries.

Get peer support.

Find friends who share the same agenda as you. Joining a job search crew is a great idea, but creating your own group can also work. Share information and ideas, hold each other accountable, and practice with your peers to improve your interview skills.

Keep an eye on the Career Services Blog.

Unique opportunities show up on the CS blog all the time. Make sure you subscribe and set up an RSS feed to keep abreast of new and time-sensitive opportunities that may be appealing.

I hope these tips help you during your specialized search. Success is closer than you might think. Enjoy your spring quarter!


Cathy Hsu, a second-year Entrepreneurship Career Advisor, bought two nice business suits before Booth thinking she’d wear them every day. She recently realized she probably wore them less than ten times over the past two years. #moneywasted

Don’t Give Up the (Intern)ship

Eric Klein '16, Career Advisor

Eric Klein '16, Career Advisor

On January 8, 2005, the attack submarine USS SAN FRANCISCO (SSN-711) was transiting submerged at flank speed from Guam to Brisbane for a much-needed liberty stop. This Saturday morning was unfolding normally by all measures, as the crew cleaned their spaces and prepared for an afternoon drill set. Suddenly, at 11:42am, an earth-shattering crash rocked the ship’s hull, ejecting the crew twenty or more feet from their seats. Recognizing a collision had occurred, the Officer of the Deck ordered the Diving Officer to emergency surface the ship, and although the forward main ballast tanks had ruptured and were leaking air, the diving officer managed to surface the ship using an emergency blow to the aft main ballast tanks. One sailor, Machinist's Mate Second Class Joseph Allen Ashley of Akron, Ohio, tragically lost his life due to injuries from the collision, but the other 114 members of the crew were saved.

Much like USS SAN FRANCISCO struck an uncharted underwater seamount, unplanned events and sheer bad luck can affect even the most prepared. But the Principles of Shipboard Damage Control can help you get back on track in your internship or full-time search, even if you feel like you are floundering.

Know how to use and maintain damage control equipment. Ensure you are using all available job search resources to their fullest extent.

  • GTS Job Postings contain hundreds of new job opportunities, with new ones posted every day. For example, at the time this article went to press, GTS contained 456 full-time and 151 internship job postings.

  • In addition to the public Employment Report, Career Services also publishes an internal Employment Report containing five years of data on where specific students accepted internship and full-time offers. You can access this report through the Career Services webpage on the Booth Intranet. This can help you in identifying companies that may not be on your radar, but ones that have hired from Booth in the past.  

  • Booth has reciprocity agreements with several other top MBA programs, which gives you the ability to view job postings at partner schools, if you are willing to visit in person. You can email to arrange an appointment.

  • Career Advisors and Career Coaches offer their time throughout the Spring and can help you refine your search strategy.

Know your way around the ship, even in the dark. Continue to refine your elevator pitch, your “walk me through your resume” story, and your SOAR frameworks. Solicit and apply feedback on these stories from your peers.

Have confidence in your ship’s ability to withstand severe damage. You’ve trained for this moment, and no one else has put in the work that you have. Remember that you are a student at the world’s premier MBA program, Chicago Booth.

Finally, remember the 10th Principle: Keep cool – don’t give up the ship.

Eric recalls passing a placard of these principles countless times on his daily pre-watch inspection.