Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Do you know what we did last summer?

Summer is an incredible time for most MBA students – at the GSB, full time MBA students use the summer to get hands-on work experience through internships at reputed companies, start-ups and non-profit organizations. Starting from mid-June to August, GSB grads stream out into the gritty, real world and attempt to apply what they have learnt in classrooms to real-time work environments.

The internships also help students experiment with new career options and try their hand at new functional areas and/ or new industries. This way, by end of summer, one forms a far clearer idea of what the industry/function to recruit for post-GSB. Quite a few firms also end up extending offers to their interns to come back and work full-time in their organizations.

Some examples of summer internships…

I did my summer internship in Europe at a large telecommunications firm on a segmentation strategy for their online business networking portal. It was incredible fun! The team was almost like a start-up… which of course meant that they needed everything yesterday! In the end, although it wasn’t exactly the “strategic planning” work that I originally wanted to do, many of my recommendations were implemented immediately and it was amazing to make an impact in just 2 months. More importantly, it was also an experience that gave me a great perspective of the organizational culture and the people at the company.

A friend of mine worked in London for a non-profit initiative that analyzed the causes of knife crime among juveniles in London, attempted to pin down causes and proposed solutions to the issue. This was, to say the least, thrilling and sometimes dangerous work – she had to travel to some not-so-safe neighborhoods and sometimes, meet with criminals… but she also adds that it was very fulfilling and the impact of such a project could actually mean more lives saved on the streets. What better application, I thought, of management skills could one imagine!

Another classmate landed an internship in Chile through the Polsky Centre. He helped an entre preneur decipher the legal environment in Chile and it's impact on the growth of the business. Not only was it an out-of-the world experience, but also a window into a different country, culture and language – this proud GSBer now knows a smattering of Spanish, can ‘almost’ change a flat tire even if stuck on the Andes, has frequented the best pubs and restaurants in Chile and most importantly, carries into his future a set of personal and business relationships forged over the last 2 months.

I hope this gives prospective students an idea of the work we do over the summer and the impact it has on the organization and on our career plans. With school starting off, we are all set to share our war stories with one another – if you’re at GSB Live, maybe you’ll hear a couple of them too!

Want to discuss this topic some more? Head on over to the Chicago GSB Discussion Forums