ALL POSTS BY: Chris Brown
As we enter the mid-point of the first semester, and with more and more recruiters showing up on campus, I’ve heard concern over whether companies are still spending the money to not only recruit, but support their interns throughout the summer with relevant projects, travel opportunities, as well as other “perks.” I remember thinking the same thing last year. Therefore, I’d like to offer my internship experience not as an indication of what all companies are doing, but to illustrate that all hope is not lost.
Nearly five weeks into my internship, I was surprised when my summer employer offered to fly me across the country for a few days for just two short orientation meetings. Apparently, they felt bad that the rest of the dozen or so MBA interns were all based in Boston, and that I was missing out on some of the events. I was considerably more surprised when I saw the price of the plane ticket – $1600. That, coupled with the hotel stay in downtown Boston, a few meals and ground transportation on the company’s dime must really add up. Apparently, some companies are not afraid to spend money despite the economy. Or perhaps my small business background has me considerably more cost-conscious than I need to be. I distinctly remember in the past having to get approval to purchase even a $100 toner cartridge on the company Amex. I suppose there are benefits to working for a Fortune 100 company.
I came to Owen as a career-switcher, hoping to somehow transition my experience at a consulting startup in the insurance industry to a brand management position in the CPG industry. I assure you it didn’t seem as unnatural of a transition then as it does writing it now. My internship search, I was told, would have to begin as soon as I stepped on campus.
The initial attention I got from CPG recruiters was encouraging, but I found myself repeatedly losing out in the end to better prepared and more qualified candidates. After landing three successive interviews during one week in January, and even flying out to San Francisco on my own dime for one, and not getting invited for any 2nd rounds, I reluctantly broadened my search. I had started an excel sheet back in August, tracking the date and position associated with each application I submitted, which had gradually grown to over 45 companies, and I soon had memberships to almost as many companies’ career websites. What began as a focused search at just the top 5 CPG companies that only recruit at HBS, had become an exercise in market sizing with the added benefit of receiving daily email updates for all the positions I didn’t qualify for.
Two days before winter break, my cell phone went through the washing machine. No
big loss. I had spent my first six months at Owen in awe of the in-class
tweeting, the cracked iPhone screens, and the responding to emails without
assembling your entire portable office at the horseshoe. When it came time to
get a new one, I was already an AT&T subscriber so my choice was easy. I
went with the Blackberry 9700 Bold. However, my intent here is not
to debate the merits of the Blackberry vs. the iPhone, especially when only one
of them functions as a reliable telephone. The question is, do you need a
smartphone for b-school? After spending one semester with, and one
semester without…”it depends.”
So what do we use smartphones for at Owen? We schedule and respond to meeting
invites, check our email, post on facebook, read WSJ feeds… or somebody
probably does. The thing is, we spend a great deal of time around each other
anyway. If you need to get a hold of someone, they’re either upstairs,
downstairs, or in the library most of the time. The last 3 texts I received