Executives Through Experimentation: The B-School Internship Experience

10/21/09

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the conference room, which I vaguely registered as looking different than it had the last time I was in there. “Now you may notice we’re standing in the middle of this conference room, where we used to have a table. I need you to fashion a new table. You go to MIT, I’m sure you can figure it out.”

Then the next day, I helped the founder design the new version of the product. We sat in the conference room, around an impressive looking table that was actually cleverly constructed from four smaller ones.

With my internship complete, I still don’t know what I want to do in nine months, when I’ll officially have my MBA. But I feel like I’ve been exposed to something raw: a firm as a loose social construct gradually working to become more defined. New clients sign up, assumptions are challenged, and new ideas are proposed and then implemented within days. The rapid evolution is at once dizzying and exciting.

Among my classmates coming back to Cambridge and entering our final year, I’ve noticed a subtle change, an acknowledgement that perhaps business school is not about escaping reality, but rather preparing for it. Summer experiences have varied widely, from the life-changing to the pleasant realization that there is no requirement to speak to those people ever again come September. Either way, the idealism of the first year is giving way to the pragmatism of the second.

The lesson I’ve taken away from my summer internship is this: I want to help create something. Expounding upon corporate strategy is fine, but what could be more challenging and rewarding than building an idea into an institution? Maybe by graduation I can take another crack at “What are you going to do with an MBA?,” and my time at WordStream, along with the whole business school experience, will will give me a new kind of answer to the big question: Recently Self-Aware.

Samuel Hawes is a second-year MBA student at MIT's Sloan School of Management. Follow @

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  • http://rbeale.com Ryan Beale

    Great Article, Sam! I had a great time working with you at WordStream and wish you the best of luck in your second year at Sloan.

    Ryan

  • http://changeagentdes.com/ Desmond Pieri

    Sam, sounds like a great assignment at WordStream. Hope your second year goes well. A couple of years ago I was asked to participate in an event for Sloan second years, talking about jobs after graduation. As I note in this post http://bit.ly/bCzBA I’m not so sure that many of the soon-to-be graduates wanted to hear what I had to say!

  • http://www.ricksmith.me RickSmithAuthor

    Great insight, Sam. A common trap is that those in B-school feel a rush to “figure it out”, to make a decision in one direction or another. This is a trap during booming economy – everyone goes in the same direction (consulting or banking), and they “buy into” their decision like it is what they were always meant to do. It may be. But for most, it won’t. I graduated from Kellogg, and spent several years in consulting. I could never do that my entire life, but I can’t image a better place to turbo-discover myself. I ended up an entrepreneur and author, but would have never found this place without experimentation.

    You sound like you are open to a very real discussion with yourself, and this will make all the difference.

    Rick Smith

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  • http://www.blisshealthcare.com Harold Picken

    I’d be interested in getting your advice how to effectively advertise an internship opportunity to Sloan students. I am in an early stage healthcare start up looking for one or two highly motivated students who are interested in entrepreneurship in healthcare.
    I can be reached at hpicken@blisshealthcare.com