This year has been strange for everyone. Never did I think that I would go almost 4 months without wearing “real” pants. However, one thing did not change as the muggy days of summer approached: the onset of summer internships.
Around the country, MBAs relished their week or two off between final exams and first-day impressions on the new job. This time around, the difference was that internships were remote, and some even shortened. This put even more pressure on interns to make a lasting impression straight out of the gates. Every MBA intern entered the summer with the same goal in mind: get a return offer. Over the next 6-12 weeks, students were running a marathon of an interview, trying to understand an organization, deliver meaningful results, and most importantly create a personal brand.
PREPARING TO MAKE THE LEAP
This summer I was headed to Google… GOOGLE! Google reportedly has a 4% acceptance rate for interns in the United States. That made it an experience that I was not taking lightly. I could already feel the heavyweight of switching industries and proving myself in a male-dominated industry. At a company like Google, everyone is known for their intelligence and performance. No matter how many “You can do this” speeches I ran through my head, imposter syndrome still seemed to sneak in.
Luckily, over the course of my first year, the Kelley School provided me with a host of resources to make my summer run more smoothly. Kelley is known for being a career switching business school and prepared me well to enter a new industry with confidence and my head held high. In particular, the Business Marketing Academy (BMA) allowed me to test the waters of a new prior to my internship. Kelley offers six career-focused Academies, allowing you to apply what you are learning in the classroom and introducing you to project problems, and professionals in your chosen industry. Last spring, I worked with Novozyems, a microbial and enzyme company. Delivering a project around understanding their value chain pushed me far outside my comfort zone but confirmed I can navigate an unknown industry, company, and project.
Beyond the BMA, our Graduate Career Services team hosted webinars to check in on our progress throughout the internship, even providing us with a calendar of what we should expect to be delivering week-by-week to our managers. We had fellow classmates like Kyle Bender, Nick Chominski, and Matthew Williams start accountability programs and think tank groups to help us through the unique virtual environment. But the thing that helped me the most was building informal strong relationships internally at Google.
LEARNING THE ROPES
This summer proved the saying, “Your network is your net worth. The connections that I formed over the summer across different departments and teams at Google allowed me to navigate an ambiguous company and summer project. Internally, Google is a large organization with the flexibility and an entrepreneurial mindset that sometimes requires structure. This mindset allows Google to be Google: pivoting easily and quickly to meet customer needs often even before a customer realizes they have them. The environment, however, requires someone who is willing to take that on – and isn’t afraid roll up their selves and create structure by building connections and harvesting resources.
One relationship outside of my direct team and managers that I valued the most was the relationship that I built with my mentor Nicolette Omoile Gangitano. She was assigned to me as a mentor because she was a recent MBA grad who had also interned within GCS (Google Cloud Storage). I immediately felt myself gravitate towards her as she was an intelligent and driven woman. She was not only was a force to be reckoned with but also had the largest heart. As another woman of color in the technology industry, Nicolette was a light in a world of people that generally don’t look like me.
Throughout the summer, Nicolette and I had countless catch-ups. However, there was one piece of advice that she shared with me that I pinpoint as a defining moment in my summer. She told me to ask myself, “What do you want your manager or others to say or believe about you?” She encouraged me to write down three to four words or phrases and keep them somewhere where I would see it every day. As a next step, she encouraged me to say these phrases or words out loud while interacting with people on a day-to-day basis. Continuing to say it takes control of the narrative of how others view you. It frames their thoughts and encourages them to start viewing you in that light. Rather than passively wait for others to label you, decide what your brand is from the start.
BRAND YOURSELF BEFORE OTHERS DO
I decided that my brand was: driven, a self-starter, navigates ambiguity, delivers results, sales mindset. Throughout the summer I made sure to use these phrases when speaking to my managers. When giving project updates, I would talk about the progress I made on a project and that, ‘… because I was results-driven, it excited me that the team was already using my work to present to the customer’. When sitting in a team meeting and discussing the Consumer Packaged Goods industry, I would mention, ‘From my previous sales experience, this is what customers are looking for’.
I worked extremely hard throughout the summer, In my midpoint and final reviews, these qualities – that I was driven, that I navigate ambiguity, deliver results, and have a sales mindset – proved to be successful. Upon completion of my internship I was offered a full-time position with Google.
So, I challenge you, what is your brand? Now say it out loud – and then keep doing it.
Laura is a rising second year at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Before returning to school, Laura fed her passion for the consumer by spending four years in the CPG industry at Kimberly-Clark (KC) Corporation. While at KC, she spent her time in the field sales offices holding a host of roles such as Shopper Marketer and Account Manager. At Kelley, she is pursuing her MBA in Marketing and Corporate Innovation while wearing many hats. They include VP of Student Affairs, Diversity Champion, Hoosier Host and Consortium member. This summer, Laura interned for Google in an internal consulting role for the Traditional Media Agency team. She enabled the team to think “customer first” in storytelling and deepen end-client relationships. During her free time, Laura enjoys cooking, staying active, and spending time with her family.
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