Looking for a summer job? Create One
Finding a summer internship in today’s marketplace is not easy. Companies are, at best, being conservative in their hiring and looking to save money by eliminating standard internship programs. You should be following all the standard advice, pursuing every lead on every website, and engaging in plenty of networking. But will that deliver in this economy? I’m just not sure. So, I have another suggestion. Try creating your next job. Just make it up. First of all, why do you want a summer internship anyway? I would assume one or more of a few reasons: Pave the way for a full-time job; Get experience in a new function or industry or both; and/or Try out some of the skills you’ve learned in business school.
These are legitimate objectives. In this market, though, you’ll have to find creative ways to meet these objectives. Here’s a process for creating a summer job that will help you meet your long-term objectives: Set your mind on what you think you want to do upon graduation; Determine the “buyer’s needs” (those skills that your target employer will want you to be able to demonstrate and the experiences that your target employer will want you to have) for that job; Create and write a few “bullet points” that would be ideal on your resume to illustrate those buyer’s needs from above (this is the key step — think about what your potential employer would want to read on the resume of the perfect candidate). A few examples might be: o “Evaluated and recommended early stage investments opportunities, based on potential cash flows and segment analysis” o “Led sector review on Sustainable Energy industry, highlighting strategic growth areas and competitive positioning” o “Constructed detailed financial models on key acquisition targets, including recommendation for bid strategy” o “Developed marketing plan for roll out of new product, including sales strategy and product positioning” Now write a generic project proposal from the bullet points for an unknown company. This “proposal” is generic until you identify some companies, but it contains the type of work you think you can do that will add value for a company and accomplish your objectives. A few examples might be: You’ve just created your summer internship. But your work is not done. You’ve got to convince someone to let you do this project.
So, continue the process: Create a target list of small to medium-sized companies (25+) in a couple of locations where you can live free or inexpensively for the summer; Begin networking your way to these companies, finding alumni or friends of alumni, or undergraduate alumni in the companies; Once you know that you have the name of a decision maker, try to get the personal introduction and meet with the decision maker in person. This will allow you to show your passion for what you are recommending. Be prepared to pitch your idea from a one-page document. Include your proposal and what outcomes they will get from the project.
Obviously, large companies know what to do with MBAs and the value that MBAs can add to their organizations. But smaller companies may not know the value you can add. You have to help them understand. You probably have to be willing to do this for free. But the value you create for yourself by getting these bullet points on your resume will pay off in the full-time job search your second year.
Let me know how I can help.
One of my most satisfying responsibilities is to take Bob Bruner, Dean of the Darden School, on the road to visit companies. Why? Because deep company relationships are vital to the health of our school and because he sells Darden perhaps better than anyone else does. He offers me access to companies that frankly might not want to see the Executive Director of Corporate Relations. And in this economy, Darden will leave no stone unturned in assisting students to reach their career aspirations. Recently, Dean Bruner and I did a west coast swing of ten visits in three days, a combination of alumni visits and corporate visits. One highlight was our visit to Disney, where we met one of our alumni under the “seven dwarfs.” (an incredible monument on one of the magnificent buildings at Disney’s Corporate Headquarters in Burbank). Walking out under the Seven Dwarfs statue and based on what I had just heard inside, it hit me: when it comes to job searching, especially in this economy, students must do as the Seven Dwarfs did. “It’s off to work we go” must be the job seeker’s mantra.
Our meeting at Disney was typical of meetings with companies that don’t visit Darden Grounds to recruit. While they hire many MBAs every year, Disney divisions typically rely on students to seek Disney out, rather than the other way around. At Disney we met with Darden alumni and with several key recruiters. They love Darden, and Darden students. But in order to work at Disney, the recruiters, confirmed, a candidate needs to work at it. A candidate must first work at networking. Students should get to know the alumni at the firm and seek their assistance in the application process. Darden has several senior alums at Disney — all confirmed their willingness, even desire, to champion Darden students through the process. Second, a candidate must work at getting to know the company. Of course, everyone should pour through the annual report and know the basics, but the ambitious candidates dig into the analysts’ reports on the industry and company, learning the issues facing the company and how senior management is addressing the issues. In addition, speaking to alumni in the areas in which you seek employment reveals insights into the culture that really show you have done your homework when you interview. Third, a candidate must work on his story — exactly why are you here interviewing and what can you do for the target company. This element is the most frequently sighted part of the student’s candidacy that falls short. Recruiters say students have not thought through what impact they can have on the company. Finally, students must work at making themselves known. This task requires relentless networking with alumni, recruiters, friends — anyone who may know or learn about a job opening in your target company.
So how did our visit to Disney turn out? Well, outstanding actually. We learned from the recruiters what our students need to do to land a position at Disney. We confirmed and reinforced several key differences recruiters might find in a Darden MBA. We discussed the possibility of a student project. We brainstormed ways we could get Disney executives in Darden classrooms. I even hand delivered a Second-Year student resume (who subsequently had a networking call). We left the meeting with many follow up items, namely for the Dean and me. So now, “it’s off to work I go we go” in our efforts to bring Darden students one step closer to meeting their career objectives.
It’s been two months since my last blog- writer’s block I guess. So I’ll start by just putting a toe in the water, and blog on something about which I am truly excited.
GOAL is working. The Career Development Center has undertaken an initiative to assist students in Generating Offers and Leads for their job search. These sessions bring together students seeking with students who have offers, along with faculty, staff and CDC members with the sole purpose of generating leads.
We’ve had over ten sessions already. Hundreds of leads have been generated, and many of these are now posted on the new Job Leads link on the portal.
But for this tool to be even more effective, it needs you-actively participating. If you are seeking, we need you to attend GOAL meetings. If you are employed, we need you to attend GOAL meetings. We need everyone in the community to post leads or needs on the Job Leads board. If you will check the board daily, you will stay in tune with the market.
Darden is a community in which we help each other. GOAL and Job Leads are two easy ways to help. Jump on board!