Finley converts internship into career
Strategic Management and Innovation
First things first—how did you go about the internship search?
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to intern with a consulting firm, so I made sure to focus my search. I went to a career fair that had several consulting firms in attendance, but I also looked at other companies that had similar jobs I might be interested in. I started early—at the beginning of September—and made contacts in the companies I wanted to apply to, and followed those leads through the interview process.
What advice would you give a first-year MBA who’s just starting the job search?
I am a second-year coach this year, which means that I mentor a group of first-year internship seekers and help them to learn from my own successes (and mistakes).
When I coach them, I compare the job search to losing weight. Both seem intimidating at first, but if you break it into smaller, digestible pieces—say, losing two pounds a week, or applying to 10 jobs each week—it's easier to tackle. There's an obvious path to success for each: identify your target companies, attend career fairs where those companies are, communicate with people who may be a connection between you and that firm, send out resumes, search openings in Symplicity (Tippie's job posting system), and above all, work hard.
My own story had what I like to call a "Biggest Loser" moment"—a key event that provides a leg up in getting the job you want. It doesn't excuse you from doing the hard work (after all, the people on "Biggest Loser" still sweat it out every day!). But it provides extra support to help you reach your goal. For example, if our career services team has an important contact in the company you want to work for.
That moment for me came when I attended an MBA job fair where AT Kearney was in attendance. Creating that connection was the key that made everything else come together. But even for job searchers who don't have that extra support, you can still accomplish your goal—it just takes a lot of hard work.
What were your responsibilities at A.T. Kearney last summer?
I led the Request for Proposal process to hire a systems integrator for a $70 million information technology project. In addition, I created a forecasting model to estimate how much the companies would come back with as their price, using eight major cost drivers. I gained the ability to work quickly under pressure, and the internship helped me to improve the quality and speed of my work.
What did you do over the course of your internship that helped you convert your internship into a full-time offer?
First, I worked my tail off. You can have the best relationships within the company and be "the guy everyone likes," but if your work product isn't phenomenal, you can forget about a full-time offer. You have to start with hard work first and foremost.
Second, I went to a lot of effort to learn if I was a good fit at A.T. Kearney. I identified about 10 people within the company that I wanted to connect with and had coffee or lunch with every single one over the summer. I asked them about the company, their history at Kearney, their role, and what past interns did to successfully make the transition to a full-time job. Their answer was "Exactly what you're doing"—networking, building relationships, getting to know the people, and determining if the company was a good fit for them.
Third, I got involved. I was part of a diversity group within A.T. Kearney. Coincidentally, two of the sponsoring partners of the diversity group were managing partners on my work project. So at the end of my internship, when managers and partners were weighing in on me and my performance, they knew me. I had interacted with these partners on several occasions—we were on a flight to New York City for a diversity group meeting, we shared a cab to Manhattan. During these conversations they became familiar with my work product, but they also knew me as a person, thanks to the conversations we'd had. I feel that because I had this extra interaction with the partners and other people in the office, that I had an advantage when it came time for reviews.
What will you be doing at ATK when you start full-time?
I'll be based in San Francisco as a generalist for at least two years, doing 2- to 6-month projects, and almost 100% travel. It might be audits, change management, or data analysis. I'm looking forward to projects that involve marketing or products, and finance-related projects, so I can round out my experience in those areas and gain some additional skills.
Any advice for fellow MBAs?
The best advice for the internship search is to start early. Find contacts in the companies you want to work, and get in touch with them. But always make sure to be yourself during the interview process. While we get an MBA for different reasons, I kept telling myself that I came to get a better job, so my internship search always came first.
When you get there, don't be a wallflower. When people say your name, in reference to your performance, there are two things you never want to hear: "Who is that?" and "Their work product was not good." So work hard, build relationships, and you'll help to ensure that you have a leg up once it comes time for your review.