May 19, 2009

The Internship Search: A Three Part Saga: Part One: Good Intentions

[Post by Tyler Alrup, MBA Class of 2010]

A Saga in Three Parts

As many of you have no doubt heard, the internship and job search has been extremely challenging this year for MBA candidates and graduates. Consequently, the process of finding an internship has been extremely difficult and, at times, nerve-wracking. To give a full picture of this process, I have decided to break it apart into three pieces titled, Part One: Good Intentions, Part Two: Tunnel Vision, and Part Three: Bending the Bat.

Part One: Good Intentions

Every job/internship search starts with an understanding of your own background and strengths. Before arriving at BU, the career center sent their first email asking for an updated resume in their format. This task was the first of many that would force me to sell my experiences in the most effective way. As one of the youngest candidates in my incoming class, this process would be absolutely critical.

Looking back, the process went something like this:

Entrepreneurial experience? Check.

Solid internships? Check.

Good GPA? Check.

Above-average work experience? Not so much.

Self-awareness is crucial in MBA candidates--we must identify our weaknesses early and compensate for them in every possible way. Incoming candidates, especially those young enough to appreciate the recent DVD release of X-Men: The Animated Series, must also have some idea of their future career options.

Early in orientation, I remember our Dean of Admissions, Hayden Estrada, asking a series of questions to the gathered incoming class:

How many of you wrote in your essays that you knew what you wanted to do after graduation? (Everyone raises their hand).

And how many of you, in reality, know exactly what you want to do? (Half of the hands fall--followed by a few embarrassed laughs).

At that exact moment I felt both relieved and apprehensive.

Good Intentions

Those essays, and those hands that remained raised, were all indicators of our good intentions. After all, I didn't lie in my entrance essays--I simply did not have a full picture of the options available to me--or those that were not. I wrote extensively on my ambitions to do international marketing consulting and to start my career abroad with an American-based firm. I knew I was interested in this function but I did not have a specific industry selected. As I came to learn during the search, a candidate must isolate functions and industries in order to truly focus and achieve the desired "Tunnel Vision" (everyone loves foreshadowing).

The fall semester had plenty of distractions from the search--everything from cohort events to Cheers with Professors to another Big XII North title for the University of Missouri (my alma mater, GO TIGERS!). The first semester is intentionally challenging and the BU Integrated Project looms over unsuspecting newbie MBAs until its conclusion in early December. Academic and non-academic responsibilities consumed my attention and led to my first major search mistake: procrastination. Every MBA program begins with an intense semester and project--and BU is no different--but students must persevere and not lose sight of the internship search.

Relax...then Focus

My first piece of advice for new students beginning the search: relax. Relax in any way you enjoy--grab a drink with a classmate, head to our amazing FitRec, sit on a couch, see a movie, play a game (I suggest Resident Evil 4 on Wii)--do whatever you need to in order to escape and take a deep breath. Stepping away from academic and professional work for a moment allows you to remember why you came back to school, to realize how many new friends you've made, and to take a mental break.

Relaxed? Alright, time to focus. Pick a function, pick an industry, find a job. Part One has come to a close.

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