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Our 5 b-school students: How they’ve prepared for summer

Since starting business school, their travels have taken them around the globe. They’ve learned to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” They’ve learned how to say “no,” how to focus their career aspirations and where they’ll be spending their summer internships in a few months.

With these latest learnings, we continue our series following five Consortium 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).

And in case you missed it, here’s part one of the series, which ran about a month into the academic year. And this is part two, which ran in early December.

In today’s installment, we ask about the process of deciding on summer internships; how b-school has changed them; whether their career aspirations have changed; and what they wish could be different from business school.

Do you know what you’ll be doing this summer? What was the process to arrive at that plan?

Elva Garza (Indiana) on her MBA travels to Croatia.
Elva Garza (Indiana) on her MBA travels to Croatia.

After attending an MBA Innovation Exchange Program in Vienna, Austria, Elva will work with the global marketing team at Starbucks (a Consortium corporate partner) in Seattle this summer. She leaned heavily on coaching assistance from her university’s career services team, peer mentors and staff to help her decide on an internship.

“After walking out of (The Consortium’s Orientation Program & Career Forum), we were bombarded with different opportunities,” she said. “I needed guidance to make sure I made the best choice for me.”

For Tazia, the process began by consulting with consulting firms early in the recruiting process to determine whether that path was really what she wanted. The process yielded positive results and she landed a summer consulting position at The Boston Consulting Group in San Francisco.

Alejandro Bolivar-Cervoni with Consortium classmates at Washington University in St. Louis at a potluck dinner. Alejandro is in front of the guy with the green shirt.
Alejandro Bolivar-Cervoni with Consortium classmates at Washington University in St. Louis at a potluck dinner. Alejandro is in front of the guy with the green shirt.

Tite and Alejandro had settled on their internships before our last installment ran. Tite will be an associate brand manager intern with Mars Inc. in its pet care division in Nashville, Tenn. “I visited the headquarters and interacted with teammates in different levels of the organization to get a well-rounded view of the company and culture,” she said.

Alejandro starts this summer as a brand management internship last November at SC Johnson & Son (another Consortium corporate partner). Like Tite, he was compelled by the company’s assurance that he’d get the opportunity to be involved in meaningful analytical, creative, and strategic projects.

Tobby will work this summer in consulting for McKinsey & Company in San Francisco. “Considering my background in the nonprofit space, I wanted a role that would offer rigorous professional development and an opportunity to expand my problem-solver’s toolkit.”

What has surprised you about the job/internship search process?

Tazia Middleton (UCLA) at the white board during a group assignment in class.
Tazia Middleton (UCLA) at the white board during a group assignment in class.

For Tazia, the search for an internship “did confirm for me that networking actually is as important as I have been told,” she said. “The firms where I made quality connections were the firms that invited me for interviews and ultimately offered me internships.”

That networking, for some students, began with their experience at OP. Several spoke of opportunities or contacts that presented themselves through The Consortium’s annual workshop, and Elva spoke of “how much access we have as Consortium members to amazing companies and how easy it was to form a connection through this network.”

Tobby described the job search process as “immersive.”

“My calendar was completely filled with coffee chats, phone calls, case prep, and meetings,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a tough process, but the frenzy definitely doesn’t alleviate any of the pressure you already put on yourself.”

How has business school changed you, so far?

Tobby Yi (Yale) with "Handsome Dan"—Yale's Mascot.
Tobby Yi (Yale) with “Handsome Dan”—Yale’s Mascot.

Across the board for our students, the theme is change and challenge. The five were virtually unanimous in saying business school has given them the strength to learn how to challenge themselves and open themselves to new experiences—from the Japan trip Alejandro coordinated with classmates to the “Bollywood” and hip-hop dances Tobby has performed in the past semester.

“The one thing that stands out the most is how comfortable I have gotten with being uncomfortable,” Elva said. “Whether that means taking classes in subjects I dislike or getting feedback on how to improve, I have grown to appreciate those situations.”

Tite has definitely seen opportunities to boost her confidence while serving as a subject matter expert, “but I’ve also been humbled multiple times when a few topics take a while for me to grasp,” she said. “This is your time. The opportunity to put in some work and practice into your opportunities—not weaknesses—is now.”

How have your career aspirations changed since you first applied to business school?

Tite Jean-Pierre (left, Rochester) with a Simon classmate at the Burishibana Gold Mine Ruins on a winter 2016 trip to Aruba.
Tite Jean-Pierre (left, Rochester) with a Simon classmate at the Burishibana Gold Mine Ruins on a winter 2016 trip to Aruba.

By taking time to evaluate different industries and career functions, Alejandro has been able to refine his aspirations significantly. “I began business school in an exploration mindset,” he said. “Now I am pursuing a specialization mindset by taking marketing data analytics and market research classes.”

Tobby has seen his aspirations grow—but the trajectory is still unclear. “I have been exposed to more and more possibilities, all while getting a deeper look into subjects I was never aware of before,” he said. “Lines have been blurred, so it’ll take some more time and reflection to really define what those aspirations are again.”

But change wasn’t universal among the five students. Tazia came to b-school determined to be a consultant. She’s getting the chance this summer. Same with Elva, who had her interests reinforced by her experience in b-school. “I am more excited than ever to join Starbucks and try my luck at marketing and brand management.”

There is a lot of literature out there on the question of whether b-school prepares students for the right things. What do you wish was different about business school?

The pressure to find a job—to get a return on the business school investment—feels pervasive, according to Tazia. “With all of the demands of recruiting, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that we are also in school to learn and become better leaders,” she said. “I think it’s important to figure out how to strike a good balance between both.”

For Elva, that could involve a better balance between real-world experience and theoretical classwork “so we can be our best selves in our jobs.” It’s an experience she’s had at Kelley on a semester-long, real-life consulting project with Procter & Gamble. “The experience was nothing short of amazing.”

Tobby suggests the experience could better extend beyond the boundaries of a single business school. “I want more exposure to the other schools,” he said. “It would be great if schools could start a network or collaborate via projects/assignments.”

And Alejandro wishes business schools could find a way to help students look around the corner at career tracks that don’t yet exist. “I wish there was a course available that would anticipate the economic and social changes that will propel those career tracks,” he said. “And how I can prepare for those impending changes.”

Part 1: Getting back into the swing of academic life

Part 2: What they wish they’d known before starting b-school

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