[Post by Tyler Alrup, MBA Class of 2010]
Part Three: Bending the Bat
"Good Intentions" and "Tunnel Vision", compared to the title of part three, might seem like very straightforward headings. Forgive the analogy but my first love in sports was St. Louis Cardinals baseball and as I wrote the first entry in this saga I had this image on my mind:
The picture is of prospect Brett Wallace taking batting practice--one I originally found on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website (here for the full article). As the photographer and columnist explained, bending a bat requires extraordinary strength and hand speed, so much in fact that the lifelong photojournalist has only caught two other players capable of the feat: Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen.
And what, exactly, does this have to do with the MBA internship search?
The sprint to the finish in the search process requires every ounce of energy and demands perseverance and creativity. As a result, my classmates and I used every available career resource and even created a few of our own.
Create Your Own Solutions
It is my personal opinion that you cannot create your own opportunities--but I do believe that you can create your own solutions. These solutions are extremely important in taking advantage of opportunities and closing the search successfully.
The first example of a student-created solution was the result of a conversation between candidates during a sports marketing conference in Washington D.C. Jason Serino and I headed to D.C. to learn more about the industry and left with a greater understanding, renewed energy and a new solution. At this conference and many events before it, every professional discussed the importance of passion for and knowledge of a specific industry. Jason, an ESPN alum, loves the sports industry and I love the video game industry...now what?
The one major problem with industry passion is authenticity. Every employer must question how passionate you really are about marketing ultrasound machines or creating new financial tools for insurance. Realizing we needed a new vehicle to demonstrate our sincere interest, we created it. Business Schooled was created as a blog forum and platform for students to demonstrate their industry passion and knowledge in any industry. The site relies on each student to post strong content (in their career self-interest) in order to build a site that improves with every post. In three short months, Business Schooled has expanded to host over twenty contributors from five different graduate business schools (with more soon to come). For more information on our sister blog, or to learn more about Playstation 3 pricing, the expansion of the MLS, or advances in personalized medicine, check out Business Schooled here.
Ashley Parsons Jablow, another MBA candidate at Boston University, also created a site to facilitate her career exploration. The Changebase is focused on all aspects of social entrepreneurship with the goal to "engage young leaders in a discussion of what change looks like in communities around the world." This site is another example of MBA candidates creating their own solutions and preparing for new career opportunities. For more information on The Changebase, follow this link.
At Long Last
At this point in my search, the semester began to wind down and I had done everything I could think of to bend the bat--I had more informational interviews than I could count, I had submitted innumerable applications, and I created Business Schooled. On April 24, the opportunity email arrived:
"Thank you for submitting your resume to apply for the brand summer internship here at Ubisoft. We think you could be great fit for this program. I'd like to schedule a time for you to do a brief phone interview next week. Please let me know your availability next week and I will coordinate a time for the call."
That email changed my whole perspective--I was instantly excited and failed in every attempt not to tell friends. I jumped into researching the company, its list of published titles, financial health, and future projects. I keyword searched "Ubisoft" on every industry site and read every article I could find.
The interview process took about two weeks and involved phone sessions with a brand manager, senior brand manager and their supervisor. The first began with the very traditional "walk me through your resume" and quickly became comfortable and conversational. My research and passion for the industry came through and even diverged into a debate on the merits of NHL '94 (introduction of one-timers) versus NHL '95 (faster gameplay). The second interview followed a similar pattern and also allowed me to discuss Business Schooled, a few of the articles I had written, and the purpose of its creation. The final interview skipped the resume walkthrough and jumped immediately into industry discussion and career questions. One important question asked, in so many words: do you see this as a summer experience or as a possible career opportunity?
The question is simple enough but also serves as a reminder to be prepared for the short-term/long-term question. Luckily, this internship is in the exact function and exact industry I targeted. It also helps that Ubisoft is a 5,000+ employee firm with strong financials and multinational operations. My answer, in short, was that I hope to secure this position, prove myself, and transition into a career opportunity.
The Search Concludes
On Friday May 8 I enjoyed a wrap-up party for the Graduate Admissions Office staff and headed to a Cohort C party to meet up with friends and watch the Celtics game. Sometime during the first half I received a call from an unfamiliar area code, and answered with my generic "this is Tyler." The call was from my interviewer and he was offering me the job! I laughed, apologized for the bar noise, and stepped outside to accept and take the rest of the call. As many of my peers experienced before and after me, I felt relief, excitement, and the weight of many months falling off my shoulders.
Advice to Incoming Candidates: Don't Start from Scratch!
In all three parts of this search saga I have mentioned the classmates, advisers, and friends that helped along the way. My advice to incoming candidates: don't start from scratch. The second years have all gone through this process in their own unique way and most would be happy to help as you follow behind them. Pick our brains, send us an email, invite us for coffee--find someone that interned in your area of interest and learn everything you can from them.
I would choose to pass along a simple message--every candidate will enter the program with good intentions, will focus and achieve tunnel vision, and will bend the bat to create their own solutions--how you go through this process is entirely up to you. For those preparing for next year's search, good luck, best wishes, and please grab me anytime in case this three part epic hasn't given a complete rundown of my personal experience.
I will now get back to my "research"--also known as playing No More Heroes and Super Smash Brothers Brawl--life is tough.