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Intern Insights - Graduate MBA Panel Talks All Things Internship

Six graduate interns provide an in-depth look at acing the internship.
Our esteemed intern panel: (Top row) - Chris Arms, Sara Chamberlain, Shanshan Huan. (Bottom row) -  Luis Trejo, Conor Perry, Landry Zetam

Our esteemed intern panel: (Top row) - Chris Arms, Sara Chamberlain, Shanshan Huan. (Bottom row) - Luis Trejo, Conor Perry, Landry Zetam

Internships have long been an avenue for students to transform academic lessons into real-world experience—and they’re not just for undergraduates

Our Business Analytics Career Fair & Internship Expo is scheduled for Friday, October 1 at the Historic Academy of Medicine. (Click here for student registration). To give future graduate interns a behind-the-scenes look at the process, and give employers insights into what interns are looking for, we sat down with six of our fantastic MBA and Dual Degree students to talk about their intern experience.

Our Panel

Chris Arms is a full-time Scheller MBA. He spent the summer as a Technical Business Manager Intern at AT&T as part of their Technology Development program.

Sara Chamberlain earned her MBA in 2021 and will begin a full-time job with McKinsey & Associates in the fall. After her first year as an MBA, she interned for Nike as a Digital Product Management Intern. After graduation, she took on an academic research internship with the Business Analytics Center.

Shanshan Huan is a dual degree MBA/MSA who interned in the Marketing and Branding department at IntelliPro.

Conor Perry is a dual degree MBA/MSA. He interned as a Sales and Pricing Analytics Intern at TK Elevator.

Luis Trejo is a full-time Scheller MBA student. This summer, he worked as a summer associate with Navy Federal Credit Union on their Debit Card Project and Analysis team.

Landry Zetam is a dual degree MBA/MSA who spent the summer with Amazon as a Senior Product Manager - Technical Intern.

Why is the MBA summer internship valuable for people who already have career experience?

Sara: For some, it’s to gain experience in your new field. You need that experience on the other side to get hired in the new intended space. You may find out you hate it—but that doesn’t mean you didn’t have a successful internship. Instead, you learned something very valuable! Networking is important; you can make great connections to set you up after graduation. Trying something different is another useful reason. For example, my Covid-related academic research internship was an opportunity to work on something meaningful and wide reaching.

Luis: An internship is a great opportunity to try new things (or confirm pre-existing interests). In this sense, the internship aligns with the MBA overall goals of acquiring new experiences and knowledge.

Why did you want a summer internship?

Conor: My primary motivation was to gain relevant work experience in a business setting. My previous roles have been in research, and this internship at TK Elevator is something I wanted to do to explore business analytics as a possible career trajectory.

Shanshan: I wanted to gain more working experience in a U.S. company because my previous experience was in China. I viewed an internship as a great opportunity to help me adapt to cultural differences in the business world and cooperate with multicultural colleagues.

How did you land your summer internship?

Sara: Right after I arrived on campus for the first year of my MBA, I attended the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) Conference. I highly recommend attending; you almost have to be there to believe the amount of energy, excitement, and activity.  It’s a huge conference with hundreds of quality companies and thousands of MBAs. I made a connection and interviewed with Nike while at the conference. Nike was one of the companies at the top of my list and I was thrilled I got to interview that early.

Chris: Even before orientation, I had already been looking at my top 10 – 15 companies, strategically focusing on where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. At orientation, I was fortunate to be in the same core group with Francesca Sally and she then introduced me to another classmate, Maria Harper.  The three of us worked together and hammered down on internship recruiting. We bounced ideas off of each other, shared contacts and leads, and built each other up. By the end of October, we all had internships in hand and were free to focus on MBA classwork.

Shanshan: I applied for the intern position on LinkedIn and reached out to a recruiter from IntelliPro. The recruiter sent me the HR director’s email address. I got the interview call from the HR director after emailing my resume. 

Conor: I submitted my resume and cover letter to TK Elevator’s job posting after seeing it on the Scheller Career Center job portal. A few weeks later, they reciprocated interest in me, and I talked with the manager about the internship position. After that call, I accepted the job offer.

Landry: Coming to GT, I knew 100% that I wanted to experience one of the big techs. Therefore, I applied to as many tech companies as possible. I actually didn’t have a lot of success at the NBMBAA Conference, but I did learn more about preparing for an interview. The Amazon interview process was rigorous: I applied in October 2020; in November 2020, I was invited to complete a 90-minute online assessment. By the time I was invited for an interview on February 24, 2021, I had received three other offers—but there was no way I could pass up the opportunity to experience an Amazon interview. I attended an Amazon interview office hour on February 25, and on February 26, I had a two-hour back-to-back interview. By March 3, I received my offer letter with a three-day decision window. I made the executive decision to go with Amazon, not because the other offers or companies were not impressive, but because Amazon aligned closer to my long-term goals.

What advice do you have for someone trying to get an internship?

Shanshan: I have some specific advice for international students –

  1. Be flexible. During Covid, many companies don't sponsor international students, which means that international students have fewer job opportunities compared to American peers. So don't be picky and apply for any position that you are interested in.
  2. Be sure to take part in mock Interview with native speakers. Sometimes international students’ stories are hard to understand by a hiring manager due to accents and cultural differences. A mock interview helps you get feedback from native speakers, and you can adjust your answers to make them more understandable.
  3. Reach out to alumni and friends and get internal information by setting up a coffee chat.

Chris: Don’t go it alone. Utilize the Career Center and your classmates for cover letter and resume review. If you are in a two-year MBA program, get help from the second years. They have been in your position and are more than happy to help. We can give you the insights that most first years don’t have.

 Luis: Be open to all opportunities and possibilities. When I started looking for an internship, I was interested in either consulting (since it was my background prior to the MBA) or an analytics role. I feel really lucky and grateful I did my internship at Navy Federal, and one of my main takeaways was to remain open to all possibilities (and not become fixated with a specific industry/company). After all, you never know for sure where your path lies, no matter how hard you desire/search for a specific outcome.

Any specific advice for those interested in a business analytics internship?

Sara: Don’t be intimidated if you don’t have a ton of business analytics experience. If you’d like to explore business analytics as a career, be honest with the interviewer about the skills you have—and hope to have—by the time the internship begins. Most people think an analytics internship is getting the data, diving into the tools, and then crunching away. Instead, most of my work this summer was more strategic. Analytics is a pretty wide spectrum. You don’t have to be a data scientist to do analytics.

What attracted you to business analytics and has this internship helped confirm your interest?

Luis: I have always been a data-driven person, so I knew even before starting the MBA program that I wanted to pursue a concentration in analytics. My internship at Navy Federal gave me the valuable opportunity to get my hands dirty with real data and deal with all the nuances you only encounter in a professional environment where results are everything.

Conor: Coming from an engineering background, I have always been interested in working with numbers and data, as well as using them to make sense of the world around me. In a business analytics role, I have used the skills and methods I learned from my previous research roles and applied them for some interesting business purposes, such as making strategic decisions and recommendations. My internship at TK Elevator did confirm my interest, and I will be applying for full-time positions in the business analytics field.

What was most valuable about your summer intern experience?

Shanshan: Seeing the decisions I made and the insights I recommended make an impact on the company’s business meant a lot to me. 

Chris: The feedback at the end was incredibly necessary and valuable. You can be as self- aware as possible, but nothing really brings it home like an end of internship feedback loop. What are people’s thoughts? Where did I excel and where can I improve?

Luis: Learning about the industry as such was my most valuable takeaway. It made me realize that financial institutions are a unique universe, one that is very dynamic and competitive, and that pursuing a career there would definitely be worth it.

Conor: The most valuable aspect of my internship has been the opportunity to work with real-world elevator data, then using that data to help inform sales and pricing decisions at TKE.

What advice do you have to help someone get the most out of their internship?

Chris: Don’t stop researching once you get the internship. Do the preparation so you are ready to contribute once you get there. When you arrive, show that you are there to actively learn. Ask the right questions. Don’t be afraid to have your voice heard.

Landry: I would say the very first thing is to identify the expectation of the role. Benchmark everything you do to the role expectations. Use the gaps to develop new skills you didn’t have before the internship, such as learning a new programming language or technical writing. Also critical is to adapt to the company’s culture speedily and learn your teams’ tenets—then use them as guiding principles in everything you do. Make sure to request frequent feedback from a selected few while remaining independent. Soliciting regular feedback helps you iterate frequently, and asking just a selected few keeps you focused.

What surprised you the most about your internship?

Chris: I thought I wanted to oversee or manage a product or process from inception to implementation. However, it became clear throughout the internship that finding strategic solutions is something I am more passionate about. Figuring out the puzzle, determining what the organization needs, then being able to put the pieces together and provide a final strategy and road map…those challenges really fit my wheelhouse and caused me to rethink my career plan. I also realized I prefer not to focus on one industry and that propelled me toward strategy consulting.

Luis: I thought it would be extremely challenging to understand the scope of my project and therefore visualize a way to carry it out, especially considering that I would be working remotely. However, the team I was assigned to was extremely helpful. In fact, the culture of the company is such that everyone is always eager to share, listen, and teach others. I easily got all the support, information, and help I needed.

What did you like the most about your internship?

Landry: I liked that the learning opportunity was unlimited; I was not treated differently than a full-time employee. I had complete ownership over my product, and I knew that my work would impact my customer’s experience and success metrics. I also appreciated the fact that I had the flexibility to work independently, but could ask for guidance when needed.

Did your internship help prepare you for your next career step?

Sara: Definitely, both of my internships taught me how to channel my inner Swiss army knife so I’m prepared to tackle anything. When I’m at McKinsey, I’ll be working with clients, adjusting to a lot of new situations, including a lot of unknowns. I’ll need to make sense of a lot of information very quickly. In that sense, the skills from this summer, such as wading through lots of data and trying to make sense of something no one has dug into yet will be very helpful.  On the Nike side, I worked with teams who were literally from all over the world. I balanced client’s wants, needs, and expectations to solve problems and make sure the project was tailored to produce solutions that supported all stakeholders. That is definitely going to come in handy at McKinsey.

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