Reflecting on my summer internship | MBA Learnings

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Second-year student Rohan Rajiv is blogging once a week about important lessons he is learning at Kellogg. Read more of his posts here.

I was very curious about the graduate student internship experience. After a few years of work experience as a full-timer, I figured it might be a bit strange to go back with the intern badge. I also wondered what elements of my approach to work would be different after a year in business school.

First up, wearing the intern badge wasn’t strange at all. It helped that we had about 25 other MBA interns as part of our intern class this summer at LinkedIn. In fact, it regularly felt like a place of privilege – we were treated incredibly well, and I regularly felt very fortunate to be given the opportunity to do what I was doing.

My approach to work did feel different. Here are three things that stood out:

1. I adapted my productivity system from school for work purposes.

I previously wrote about a simple system I used through my first year  – in a nutshell, it involves color coding my calendar based on the four priorities at school (career, academics, extra-curricular and social) and doing a weekly review to check how I was doing. I ported the system to my internship. The new priorities were:

  • Core project
  • Other projects
  • People
  • Intern events

I found it to be just as useful in facilitating an intentional and reflective approach to work.

I don’t think I experienced the full power of the system because my “core projects” were fairly well scoped out. I think the system’s benefits really show up when there’s a multitude of priorities pulling you in different directions. I’m looking forward to continue to refine this system for work purposes when I’m back at work after school.

2. I proactively met people.

One of the beautiful parts of graduate school is setting up time for a quick coffee/walk when you want to get to know someone. As I generally avoid the big bar/party settings, I did plenty of these “coffee” catch ups through my first year. This was a very helpful habit going into the internship as I got to both know, and learn, from people I didn’t directly work with. It is something I should continue to do when I get back to work next year.

3. I worked off a more solid foundation.

Many times, I felt grateful for my core courses and the fact that I could call on my professors if I needed help (and I did). The best way to describe the benefits of a good graduate business education is that it gives you a set of basic tools that helps you be more effective. I liken education to wearing a different pair of glasses. It fundamentally changes the way you see the world without you realizing it.

I did also walk away with a sense of urgency in terms of things I needed to learn.

That brings me to next steps. I took away three next steps from my internship experience:

1. Take the time to understand what you will need to be successful at your chosen craft in 3-5 years.

This is part of an ongoing and iterative process in my case. I’ve decided to go back to LinkedIn and plan on working my way toward building and managing web/mobile products in the next three-to-five years. And I am currently focused on understanding what skills I need to develop in the coming year to give myself a good start.

2. Take courses that will be relevant.

While I’m grateful for the core courses, I’m also really excited about taking courses that are relevant. For instance, I’m taking two courses from our cutting edge ‘Big Data & Analytics’ curriculum, and I intend to continue exploring courses that will be relevant to my journey.

3. Enjoy student life.

My time away from school made me appreciate the joys of student life. As this is likely my last ever year of student life, I intend to make the most of it. Among other things, that means taking time to have many more wonderful conversations with friends and plenty of afternoon naps.

Looking forward.

Rohan Rajiv is a second-year student in Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year Program. Prior to Kellogg he worked as a consultant serving clients across 14 countries in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America. He interned at LinkedIn in Business Operations and will be heading back to LinkedIn full-time after he graduates in June 2016. He blogs a learning every day, including his MBA Learnings series, on www.ALearningaDay.com.

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