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Our 5 b-school students: Loving their summer experiences

Drinking from a fire hose. Diving into the deep end. These are some of the experiences our five selected students had as they put aside their textbooks and attended to their summer internships between their first and second year of business school as a Consortium fellow. With a year of b-school under their belts, our five students loved their being trusted to be leaders in the organizations they worked for.

With these latest learnings, we continue our series following these students from the start of business school throughout the two-year process. We’re following Alejandro Bolívar-Cervoni (Washington University in St. Louis); Elva Garza (Indiana University-Bloomington); Tite Jean-Pierre (University of Rochester); Tazia Middleton (University of California, Los Angeles); and Tobby Yi (Yale University).

In case you missed it, here’s part one of the series as they began business school (from Sept. 27, 2016); part two as they adjusted to the rigors of their programs (from Dec. 1, 2016); and part three as they were about to start their summer internships (on March 30, 2017).

And what did our five students do during their summers? Elva worked with the global marketing team at Starbucks (a Consortium corporate partner) in Seattle. Taziahad a summer consulting position at The Boston Consulting Group in San Francisco. Tite was an associate brand manager intern with Mars Inc. in its pet care division in Nashville. Alejandro was a brand management intern for SC Johnson & Son (another Consortium corporate partner). And Tobby worked in consulting for McKinsey & Company in San Francisco.

Here’s what we wanted to know after they finished their summers.

How was your summer experience like what you expected? How did it depart from what you expected?

Tite said her first year of business school prepared her well for her brand management internship at Mars Inc., where she worked on Greenies Pill Pockets, treats for dogs and cats. Her education, combined with networking with her Consortium community and “coffee chats” with other brand managers helped prepare her, “albeit, the first few weeks definitely felt as if I was drinking through a fire hose in getting up to speed.”

Elva at a coffee tasting during her Starbucks internship. (Courtesy Elva Garza)
Elva at a coffee tasting during her Starbucks internship. (Courtesy Elva Garza)

Elva said the opportunity allowed her to flex muscles she didn’t know she had—both intellectual muscles as she built her “marketing intellect” and physical muscles. “What I didn’t know is just how much fun I would have in the process,” she said. “I truly made it a point to immerse myself in the Starbucks and Seattle culture by attending frequent coffee tastings and going on hikes I never thought I could do.”

Tazia wasn’t expecting how quickly the summer job would ramp up: She received her assignment on a Thursday, briefed herself on the industry over the weekend and boarded a plane from San Francisco to Houston at 6 a.m. on Monday to get started with the client.

What was the highlight of your summer experience? Something you’re particularly proud of accomplishing?

Tazia organized a half-day workshop for a client. Tobby presented to C-suite clients. Elva felt her value to the organization in the way she was able to engage with senior leaders at Starbucks.

“I also loved the amazing support I received from the CGSM alum at the organization,” she said. “It’s nice to see our network in practice.”

Tite worked on a brand guide for the product she was assigned. Her work provided the guidance for the creative agency, which presented its concepts a few weeks later, after several updates, follow-up meetings and email exchanges.

“I was floored,” she said. “It was exactly what I would have made if I had the creative juices that the masterminds and left-brained folks did. I remember walking out of that meeting beaming with joy and a great sense of accomplishment.”

What did your summer experience teach you about your professional goals?

West coast celebration event for Yale interns during Tobby's internship at McKinsey & Co. (Courtesy Tobby Yi)
West coast celebration event for Yale interns during Tobby’s internship at McKinsey & Co. (Courtesy Tobby Yi)

“I walked away from this summer with a better understanding of the impact I can have in the future and understanding that problems can be further broken down into more digestible pieces,” Tobby said. “Shoot for the stars, but build the rocket first.”

Across the board, their internships reinforced for our students that they were on the right path. “It gave me more confidence in this journey that I chose to embark on and motivation to keep working hard towards my goals,” Tite said.

For Tazia, it also reinforced that she’s up to the challenges presented by her chosen career path. “I enjoyed the challenge of throwing myself into something new and delivering key insights to the client on a tight deadline. I know that throughout my career it will be important for me to have both client engagement and interesting problems to solve.”

In what ways has your summer experience prepared you for your final year of business school?

As a practical matter, the summer at Starbucks showed Elva she needs (and wants) to become better versed in analytics and finance—coursework she’s focused on now.

The summer also gave Tazia the confidence to stretch as she entered her final year of b-school. “It might be tempting to select classes that are within my comfort zone,” she said. “My internship experience helped spark the curiosity and confidence to explore unfamiliar subject matter.”

Tobby now considers how to apply the 80/20 rules to his coursework: “The amount of energy we apply to accomplish perfection has marginal returns,” he said. “With one more year to do everything I want to accomplish before returning to the real world, I’ll have to let go of the FOMO.”

How does the start of Year Two feel different from the start of Year One?

Alejandro in Mexico City. (Courtesy Alejandro Bolivar-Cervoni)
Alejandro in Mexico City. (Courtesy Alejandro Bolivar-Cervoni)

After traveling to his sister’s graduation from American University, taking a trip to Mexico City and his internship, Alejandro’s Year Two culminates a process that helped him focus his career interests. Marketing was his focus, but having some real-world experience has helped him pare down choices for industries and project function and role.

“I have also relished the opportunity to mentor incoming MBA students at Washington University,” he said. “I helped many new members of our Consortium class prepare for their Orientation Program, sharing those best practices that worked for me (namely beginning resume preparation early and gaining industry perspectives by connecting with university alumni).”

Tazia and others echoed that feeling of help for other students while feeling the same anticipation and excitement for Year Two as she did for Year One. The difference? Knowing what to expect and the ability to “help others looking to follow a similar path.”

“It’s pretty liberating, but it’s not all rainbows and butterflies,” Tobby said. “I only have one more year left of this incredible journey.”

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