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Summertime dues

The summer internship is critical to landing a top job after graduation. It's also a way for Kellogg students to broaden their experiential learning and put theory into practice

By Adrienne Murrill

"Summer internships provide a chance for students to apply in the workplace what they have learned during their first year at Kellogg," says Roxanne Hori, assistant dean and director of the Kellogg Career Management Center. "Students return in the fall with great energy for the applicability of their courses and say how the internships helped them clarify what they want to do upon graduation."

Amit Bakshi '08 at Cafe Coffee Day  
Taking a break, Amit Bakshi '08 stands outside of the Indian retail chain Caf� Coffee Day in Bangalore where he interned this summer.  

Here is a sampling of how some members of the Class of 2008 used their summers as a time to deepen their Kellogg MBA experience.

Juliana Abreu was drawn to consulting for the chance to try something different. Working as a summer consultant at Boston Consulting Group in São Paulo, Brazil, Abreu performed market segmentation for an international retail bank — a significant change from what she did before attending Kellogg, when she was responsible for new product planning at a Brazilian telecom. 

Abreu said that her Kellogg classes prepared her for the internship. "I found that the work we did on segmentation in Marketing 430 has been very helpful, and I've used frameworks such as the STP process that we learned in that class," she said. She also credits the quantitative skills she developed in decision sciences classes in preparing her for her role at BCG.

Due to the nature of her project, Abreu found the experience to be more independent than collaborative. "I think the nature of consulting is team based. I really enjoyed that and I enjoy it at Kellogg."

Abreu said she looks forward to working with different industries on projects that are intellectually stimulating. She saw her impact firsthand in a meeting with her summer client: "They were discussing some of the preliminary findings, and it was rewarding to hear them talk about the work I had done and use that to help decide what strategies they would pursue."

 With his sights set on entrepreneurship in India, Amit Bakshi chose to work in retail, one of the country's fastest-growing industries. Bakshi's project was designing a strategy to improve customer service at Café Coffee Day, India's largest café chain with 460 cafés in 80 cities. It pioneered the café concept with its first store in Bangalore in 1996.

"Café Coffee Day has developed an extremely strong brand, especially among India's urban youth who need relaxed and fun places to hang out," he said. "Despite having grown to its current size, it remains an entrepreneurial company and has aggressive plans for growth."

Part of that development is establishing consistent customer service, which Bakshi said he approached from a human-resources perspective. "I broke it down into hiring the right people, training them and keeping them engaged with the right incentives and rewards." 

Before his internship, Bakshi had no HR experience and limited retail experience. "Everything has been new to me, and I've been learning as I go." He prepared in advance by discussing his project with Kellogg faculty members who provided marketing case studies and frameworks. "One thing Kellogg has given me is more confidence in problem solving, which is necessary when you're working in an unstructured atmosphere," he said.

During the internship, he learned about HR and customer service by consulting with professors at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore and interviewing employees in cafés and human resources. The experience whetted his appetite for entrepreneurship.

Zoravar Dhaliwal also worked in India during his internship as an associate at UBS. His exposure to investment banking in Asia was a different but positive experience compared to traditional banking internships in New York. "I was hearing so much about the India growth story and wanted to find out firsthand what it was all about," he said. "Only after I worked there did I understand the energy in the country."

  Kelly Winters '08 at Google
  Kelly Winters '08 interned in the business and operations strategy group at Google this summer.

Working in a smaller overseas office, Dhaliwal received more time with clients and UBS executives. Although the internship itself was not as structured as one in the U.S. might be, it exposed him to higher-level projects he may not have experienced otherwise.

"Now I have a better understanding of the Indian market and how businesses operate and report financial statements." Dhaliwal continues to follow Indian news and markets, and he is considering a career in investment banking or private equity in India.

Dhaliwal said his first-year classes in real estate and finance prepared him for the job, and the softer skills he gained from a robust extracurricular life contributed to his ability to manage working more than 80 hours a week during the internship.

Chris Hamilton went off campus — and online — to spend his summer at YouTube in California. Working as a product marketing intern, Hamilton analyzed trends and internal data to propose strategies to improve the user experience and increase overall video consumption on the site.

"Digital media and entertainment have always been areas of great personal interest," Hamilton said, and he wanted to extend that interest to his career. He appreciated the opportunity to pursue high-level, open-ended projects. "I had a lot of autonomy to work on cool projects that touched a number of different parts of the company." He primarily worked with the product and content partner teams, both of which strive to provide a superior user experience.

One of the biggest challenges in his role, he said, was to remember that every decision must consider the end user. "Everything is painstakingly focused on valuing the user experience."

Much of what Hamilton said he learned in his first year at Kellogg prepared him for YouTube. "Kellogg equipped me with a tool kit to analyze problems and provided the ability to break down business issues and address what needs to get done."

YouTube's parent company, Google, is where Kelly Winters spent her summer. As an associate in the business and operations strategy group, Winters applied skills she has honed at Kellogg. "It was an interesting transition for me to do a similar role where I already had pretty strong legs, but in a new industry," she said. That footing came from three years of consulting work at Bain and Company prior to Kellogg and allowed her to apply her analytical and qualitative skills at Google.

Winters could speak only generally about the project due to her non-disclosure agreement, but said it centered on human resources and how Google can continue growing while strategically solving its business issues. "The project that I worked on diagnosed the human resources organization via interviews that were used to provide a list of recommended short- and long-term initiatives," she said. "I developed skills in learning the right questions to ask and the best ways to ask them."

Like the other interns, Winters said that the group work she did at Kellogg assisted her at Google, also a team-based environment. "One of the great things about the internship is the experience of working at Google, a company that's innovative in the way it thinks about its business model, its challenges and its employees," she said.

Chris Hamilton '08 at YouTube
Chris Hamilton '08 (center) spent his summer internship in California at YouTube. During his project, he worked closely with (from left) Obie Greenberg, Ali Sandler, Kevin Yen and Kelsey LeBeau.
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