My name is Ankit and I just finished my 1st year of the Smeal MBA program. I am a few weeks into my internship with NIKE, for which I am super excited and very thankful. The reason I am writing this blog is to help my classmates and the new incoming class to learn from my experiences, and to aid in their job search. Even if one person benefits from my blog, I will consider it to be a success.
I started looking for an internship right when our program started, and I got a final offer 10 days before the end of 1st year program. So, there could not have been a more exhaustive search than what I went through this year. From the first day I knew the concentration that I wanted to major in, and the field in which I wanted to work. I attended all the company information sessions that catered to my interest throughout the year. At the beginning, it was difficult to gauge what the companies were really looking for. This is why I started interacting with the 2nd year students to get their insights and advice. I applied to all the jobs related to my concentration that were posted on Symplicity, our on-line recruitment system. I received several interviews, but unfortunately I was unable to convert them into concrete offers. As time passed by I realized that first, I needed to tap into the great career services resources we have here at Smeal. Secondly, I needed to look beyond Symplicity for my internship search. Thus, I started making appointments with Mr. Mike Brown and Ms. Emily Giacomini, from the Career Services office. I regularly practiced mock interviews and had my resume and cover letters reviewed. This slowly helped me in polishing my interviewing skills, as over the time you start understanding the tricks of the recruiting process. I also began connecting with people outside of school, which helped me expand my job search, and I stayed in touch with my mentor. My classmates and I spent time interviewing one another, and I used their feedback to improve my interviewing skills.
The path was tough. I used to ask myself this question: “What is the one thing that I am not doing for my job search?” I knew that if the fundamentals are right and if I am doing everything correctly, then sooner or later things will work out. This gave me confidence, because I knew that I was doing everything I could do.
Finally, after several rounds of interviews and having walked on this never-ending path of job search, on April 11th, I received a call from NIKE. They notified me that they would like to hire me for their summer internship program. This was the first time in my life when I actually felt more relieved than happy. I got into one of the best companies in the world. In a split second I recalled all of the efforts I had put in and the faces of all the people who helped. Then I sat down for a second to digest the news. I got up and I gave a tight bear hug to all my friends without whose support I wouldn’t have made it. But I think the most important and vital part of this blog is below.
My Advice and Key Takeaways
1. When I came to the Smeal MBA program, I had offers from other school as well. I wrongly assumed that if I was really good in behavioral interviews during the MBA admissions process, that I would yield similar result from recruiters and companies as well. That was not the case. Business schools and companies have different criteria and evaluation standards, even though the interview questions might be similar. Please don’t stick to same skill level you were at while interviewing for MBA schools. Once you are in, you need to raise your performance bar and enhance your interviewing skills.
2. Reach out to career services as early as possible. Try mock interviews with them. Take their help in reviewing your cover letter and resume. They are immensely supportive and helpful.
3. Please. Please. Please. Write down the answers and practice the questions provided by Mr. Mike Brown during the career immersion week. They were a set of 20 tough questions. I found them very helpful. Write down the answers and practice them.
4. Follow the S.T.A.R format while answering interview questions.
5. Get a hold of a couple of classmates and practice mock interviews with them regularly. Because you all are going through same cycle of interviews, you know the interviewing environment the best. Then take the feedback and work on it.
6. Do extensive research on the company and show your genuine interest while you interview.
7. Finally, I am thankful to Smeal. Smeal attracted a lot of companies. I was privileged to interview with many of them. This helped me go through various interviews, fail in them, and learn something from the experience that made me a better candidate for the next interview. Eventually, I reached a level where I was polished enough to get recruited. But if I didn’t have the cushion of going through numerous interviews, I wouldn’t have made it this far. I really appreciate the brand name of Smeal and the efforts of our career service team that helps to bring so many companies to our campus. This helps us to try our luck and skills across variety of companies and finally get into one that’s the right fit.
by Ankit Goswami, Class of 2013