by Lori A. Itagaki
Forté Fellow and MBA Candidate 2015
USC Marshall School of Business
As a kid, the question was always, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” As an adult, I find I’m still asking myself this same question. In fact, my answer might already be different from what it was a few months ago.
I started my MBA program thinking consulting was my career path, and, now, I am focused on a career in HR. A lot of things happened that lead me down this path, but I’ll give you the rundown of what MBAs have to go through to secure their summer internship.
Once you’ve gotten a chance to get settled back into the world of tests and group projects, I encourage you to dive into whatever opportunities you can find that will help you “craft your story,” especially if you are a career switcher. For me, this included becoming part of the consulting and strategy club, going to recruiting events and company presentations, befriending second years, and doing a lot of informational interviews.
Now looking back, I basically had a full-time job in recruiting for consulting, which seems crazy because I’m not even going into consulting after all! However, everything I went through in my preparation helped me significantly in general.
Casing, for example, is such a useful skill, as it teaches you how to solve problems and make assumptions without all of the information available to you. When you are presenting a case, you need to defend your thought process, which I found especially helpful to use in class or during case competitions. And, you might be surprised as to how many situational questions there are in your behavioral interviews.
At USC, we have a large, on-campus recruiting presence, so I heavily relied on our career center for postings about company visits and internship opportunities. However, for those of you whose target companies do not have relationships with your school, LinkedIn, Indeed, Simply Hired, and other job search engines will become your best friend.
During my job search, I kept the door open for HR opportunities and dropped my resume for any positions that interested me. Companies look for candidates that they think will succeed in the internship, so you’ll want to do a “quick scan” of your cover letter and resume to determine if you would be someone they would want to interview.
If you are lucky to get a first-round interview, congratulations! You are one step closer to getting an offer. Of course, you need to make sure you make a good impression during the interview. When I was preparing for an interview, I gathered as much information as I could from our career center, alumni, company websites, LinkedIn, etc.
I didn’t want to get stumped on an easy question like “What does our company do?” I also realized that the more information you gather, the more you know so that you can make a decision that’s right for you.
As cheesy as this sounds, this whole process is about self-assessment and comes down to following your heart.
Business school is an opportunity for you to find the career you are most passionate about. It is both a stressful and exciting process, and it can take a toll on you if you let it. But just remember that it is like this for EVERYONE, so definitely reach out to classmates or alumni for help or advice during this process.