The MBA Internship Search Saga

The generally unfortunate weather of mid-winter is certainly enough to spawn dreams of summer.  Those sunshine filled memories of picnics, flip flops and long evenings are critical for sustaining me through the less appealing Oregon seasons. But this year, my dreams of next summer are even more exciting: I’m determined to find the crown jewel of my future resume: the killer internship.

I’ve been (attempting) to buckle down on my summer internship search for quite some time now.  In December, I chased down a lead I had into Hostelling International, an organization that I had worked for peripherally a few years ago.  It didn’t pan out as far as an internship because they needed work done from January to May. This was my first lesson in timing: the smaller the business, the less lead time they need to set up an internship.  If you are targeting the Nikes and Microsofts of the world, have that resume ready in October.  If you’re after smaller fish, go ahead and make the connections, but don’t expect to line up work unless you have a specific proposal.

Now, in the last third of winter quarter, I’m doing the strategizing I should have done over winter break: What do I have to offer? What experience and I hoping to have? Am I looking for a foot in the door at a potential career target or a unique once-in-a-lifetime project? What skills do I want to flex, and which do I want to develop? One of the most exciting (and sometimes frustrating) things about sustainability is it touches almost every industry.  I’m limited only by my imagination and bandwidth. In these next few weeks I have a lot of decisions to make… or do I?

I sat down with James Chang, our Career Advisor extraordinaire, who encouraged me to explore all of the leads I had without fear of pigeonholing myself.  The key advice he had was to start with an informational interview.  He explained with no position on the line, both you and your contact are more relaxed and genuine, and by asking informed questions you stand to gain industry insights.   This helps you position yourself more strategically when it’s time to craft the cover letter.  By asking about the challenges your targeted company or industry faces, you may even kick up some dust and make your contact realize they could use some help on the problem.  No, not just “some help”- your help.

I’m now prepping to set up some informational interviews.  My “shotgun approach” is aimed at a socially responsible coffee importing business, clean energy advocacy and outreach organization, sustainable apparel manufacturer and an event greening NPO.  Maybe even more as I dive deeper:   “Look for opportunities in unlikely places,” was the recent advice from second year MBA Claire Williams.  “I learned that fortune favors the bold, that people respond to offers to help.”

– Mikaela Hicks

Sustainable Business Practices
University of Oregon
MBA Candidate 2013


Written by UO Business

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