Summer School? For MBA’s??? OK, true, we weren’t in summer school. But really, as much as an internship is a 10 +/- week opportunity for employers to assess us, it’s also a huge learning experience. It’s also funny that my mom kept asking me how school was, and I had to keep reminding her I was working. For pay, and everything! To her credit, the fact that I was actually working next door to school in the Kenan Institute made it a little confusing.
As we’re wrapping up our summer internships, a lot of valuable lessons have emerged. In talking to my classmates I find I’m not the only one who found this to be as much, if not more, of a learning experience as school itself. Sure, it was a total career shift, so I learned some new tricks, but more importantly I learned more about what I need to be satisfied at work, as did many of my classmates. Some found their place in heaven, doing a job they loved enough to get up at 4:00AM everyday! I can’t imagine anything worth getting up that early!
Others learned things like living in the boondocks isn’t really for them, no matter how great the job is. Me, I learned that the product matters as much to me as everything else. I found out that not only do I have to be around interesting people I enjoy working with and share mutual respect with, I also have to be focused on a product (or service) I’m passionate about. I was really happy with my team, and my boss was a real employee development genius. But man, after spending 14 years working on (mostly) gorgeous clothes, it was hard to focus on less sexy products. Which has helped me sharpen my focus tremendously about what I want to do after school. It’s still a ridiculously broad net, but at least I have some specific fish in mind…
Kelly Boone and Katie Cross at CSE Consulting did an excellent job of developing us, I even suspect some of their clients prefer to outsource the internship process to them, as it really is quite a process. Giving us just the right balance of slack and guidance to ensure we deliver a top-notch project AND showcase our strengths AND develop our weaknesses is not an easy task. I now see the value in securing an internship in a company that has a strong internship program in place.