Alumni in Retail: Energized by Starbucks’ Strong Culture
After graduating from Darden this past May, Ximena Velez Cibart (MBA ’19) joined Starbucks’ as Marketing Manager at the American coffee company’s corporate headquarters in Seattle, Washington. The offer came not long after Ximena finished her First Year internship, also with Starbucks, as the company’s Global Strategy MBA Intern. Ximena and four fellow Starbuckers and Darden alumni, Amy Appleby (MBA ’16), Paul Diamantopoulos (MBA ’09), and Lesley Short (MBA ’13), recently hosted 25 First Year students during the annual West Coast Tech Trek, during which students participated in a coffee tasting and tour of the company’s headquarters, just south of downtown Seattle.
Here, Ximena discusses how Darden prepared her for her career switch from east coast consulting to west coast retail and tech, advice for off-Grounds recruiting, and much more.
After your internship, how did you know that Starbucks would be a great fit for you in a full-time capacity? What should students be looking for in their internships?
The company culture was a huge part of it for me. I met and worked with great people, aligned to the values and mission of the company, and knew that I would get to work on fun and interesting projects.
Don’t forget to look at your internship experience from all angles, not just the project you’re working on for that summer.
What elements of the Darden experience prepared you for your career transition from consulting to tech?
The learning experience as a whole at Darden has made a huge impact in my career transition. From preparing cases and being able to think on your feet in class, to forming a recommendation and backing it up with data, to taking in others’ perspectives and thoughts. How we think and formulate our ideas in the classroom at Darden prepared me well for role at Starbucks.
Additionally, the structure and rigor of learning teams has helped me, as I currently work with cross-functional groups across the company, all with different skill-sets, backgrounds, and experiences.
What tips do you have for students pursuing an off-Grounds search, and particularly one targeted towards the West Coast?
First and foremost, timelines for off-Grounds recruiting tend to be different. This means that many of your peers may already have accepted offers, and you will be just starting your search. This is part of process, so don’t let that scare you. You will find something!
Secondly, leverage the Darden network, including professors. You never know where one conversation or connection may take you.
As for the West Coast specifically, take advantage of the Tech Treks and other cases or competitions that Darden hosts with companies based out here.
What skills does Starbucks seek in its applicants?
Cross-functional collaboration, communication and storytelling, and analytical acumen are skills that I think are table-stakes at Starbucks and many other places.
Beyond that, I also think Starbucks looks for a strong cultural fit within its applicants, people who are going to live up to the mission and values of the company.
How did Darden and the Career Development Center help you in your search?
I received my Starbucks offer through the Consortium’s Orientation Program. The Career Development Center was helpful in preparing me for that conference, and later in negotiating, and evaluating the components of my offer.