August 23, 2016

Intern Report: Discovering a commitment to a consulting career

Anthony Manna is a candidate in Weatherhead's MBA program.

This summer I worked for a company called EDGE (Economic Development through Growing Enterprises). It is a nonprofit organization with the explicit goal of helping companies in Northeast Ohio grow so that they can help improve the local economy. Every summer, they pair up a few students from area universities with some of EDGE’s member companies that have a new business idea or market segment that they’d like to pursue. I was one of these students, and I got to work as an independent consultant for a materials science company called Terves. Terves specializes in nano-engineering (engineering at the molecular level), so I got to feed my interest in science along with my passion for entrepreneurship. Prior to beginning this internship, I was on the fence about whether consulting was really the career path I wanted to pursue, but now I am convinced that is what I’d like to do.

I absolutely loved my internship with EDGE. Being an independent consultant meant that, although I was hired through EDGE and was paid by EDGE, I acted as my own company and essentially, my own boss (albeit within the structures set by EDGE). Outside of meetings with other people, I got to choose when and where I worked, as long as I made sure I was getting my work done. I loved the autonomy and independence that came with this role, but my favorite part about it was the intellectual challenge that comes with being a consultant. I have absolutely no background in engineering, nor did I have any prior experience in the oil and gas industry. My project this summer was centered around a nano-engineered “proppant” technology that will be used in hydraulic fracturing, so it was definitely a challenge for me to get up to speed and understand what I was working on.

Along with my partner, I spent the first few weeks getting up to speed on the oil and gas industry, and understanding all the ins and outs of hydraulic fracturing. We did most of our initial research online, utilizing the wide variety of resources available to us as students at Case Western Reserve (it really is unbelievable how many databases you didn’t know we have access to). Then, we began calling professionals in the industry and interviewing them to learn from firsthand experience about the industry. In the last few weeks of the summer, we tied together everything we had learned and built an NPV model (Professor J.B. Silvers would be proud) that helped them calculate the value of their new product. We also conducted a number of strategic analyses on their company (Professor Simon Peck would be proud) to help make recommendations for how Terves should go about launching their new product. In the end, Terves was very pleased with the results of our work, and I am committed to starting my career in consulting going forward.

August 19, 2016

7 Career Tips Before You Start Grad School

Meenakshi Sharma is assistant dean of career and student affairs. Follow Weatherhead's Career Management Office on twitter @weatherheadcmo.

As we start putting final touches to our presentation for orientation for the Career Management Office, I am also putting myself in your shoes and trying to wonder what’s going through your mind. Some of you must have left your current job and pondering how you are going to survive the next two years without a paycheck. Some of you might be thinking about life in a new country/culture. I am going to keep this piece focused on topics related to your career. We understand that you spend a lot of time thinking about what type of positions, functions, industries and employers you might like to work for during your summer internship and upon graduation from the MBA/MS programs. That’s why you are pursuing these degrees, isn’t it? Well, let me tell you that it’s very common for students to lack focus and clear direction about the role, functional area or industry to target from a career search perspective. It’s very important for you to discover who you are and your interest in terms of industry, functions etc. Narrowing down distinct areas of interest is essential for you to have a successful internship and career search process. 

Someone recently asked me what tips/advice I will give to incoming students. I thought about an interview I did with Businessweek a few years ago and have compiled a list based on my experience and hearing from partners from other schools:
    1. Pre-orientation groundwork: We strongly advise students to familiarize themselves with as much of the online resources we provide as possible prior to arriving on campus. These resources include intranet resources, the school’s social and professional networking sites, student blogs, list of professional organizations in the area, etc. A certain degree of familiarity with the school’s specific systems and tools can help a lot during the fast-paced academic year.
    2. As most of the incoming students will be seeking internships for the following summer, it is necessary to have a solid foundation for your resume by the time you start the program, considering how quickly the career search process begins once you are here.
    3. Networking works: Speaking from experience, the majority of jobs are landed by networking effectively. The concept of networking can seem overwhelming, but developing a strategy and establishing a customized approach to one’s own strengths and weaknesses can help facilitate the process. For example, students can develop a structured networking plan that helps them figure out where they fit in and how they need to grow. Students who come from industry are also encouraged to maintain dialogue with senior executives at their current organizations to see what kinds of opportunities might open up after graduation.
    4. Students should prepare personal target lists of employers/companies and research their patterns of recent MBA employment. For example, a student who might be interested in capital markets sales and trading should evaluate options based on current market volatility and be prepared for a broader set of opportunities in the financial services industry.
    5. Market knowledge: Being up-to-date with what is happening in the business world is very important. In addition, you should be able to communicate your market knowledge to appropriate audiences, be it a general HR person or an industry expert. If you haven’t already, start reading The Wall Street Journal and other relevant business publications on a regular basis.
    6. International students: Research and try to understand legal and practical limitations of employment options in the U.S. prior to starting the program. For international students coming to the U.S. for the first time, it is also important to talk to current students and recent alumni to understand the job search process in the U.S., so that you can leverage your skills accordingly.
    7. Professional wardrobe: Having a smart, effective wardrobe will be very important throughout your business career, starting right here in school on day one. This goes for both business formal attire as well as business casual attire. Having a smart suit for interviews and appropriate clothes for various networking and related events is a must. Stay on the conservative side, the suit and related accessories are not meant to divert attention from you.
      Enough serious talk. Let me welcome you to two years of fun. You might question your sanity at times, but you’ll keep these two years with you for the rest of your life. The career search process is just that – a process that needs a lot of reflection and guidance. Think not just about the first job out of school, think about the path you’re about to set yourself upon. We’re here to help; will look forward to seeing you all smiling on the day of your graduation!

      August 12, 2016

      Intern Report: Developing innovative solutions at Amazon.com

      Satinder Kaur is a candidate in Weatherhead's MBA program.

      It’s 6:30 a.m. and 2,000 people have parked their cars to start the day. It's another challenging day with new targets to meet and new history to be created at Hazelton Amazon Fulfillment center. No two days have been the same.

      This summer, I worked as a pathways operations intern at Amazon.com Inc, ranked #8 among most innovative companies and #12 in world’s most valuable brand. Amazon stands on the strong pillars of 14 leadership principles and a very dedicated and innovative team. I spent my summer working with the best minds from all over the country. And together we devised innovative solutions to very challenging problems. The opportunity to work on real-time situations has increased my knowledge and exposed me to the ever-challenging online retail business. A week-long trip to Seattle, Washington, gave me an inside look to Amazon’s business structure and the opportunity to network and participate in fun-filled events with all 185 MBA interns and managers at higher levels.

      Weatherhead School of Management has prepared me well to create an influence on others with my work. The team from the Career Management Office was the greatest source that helped me to crack the four rounds of interviews. Julie Gutheil personally made sure I felt prepared. To be successful in my role, my everyday responsibility was to work with 150-200 associates. It was very important for me to understand their comfort zones and challenges. Weatherhead's LEAD course led by Ellen van Oosten and operations course taught by Alireza Kabirian helped to bring two different subject areas together. Part of my final presentation also required financial forecasting. I performed detailed data analysis learned from Daniel Solow and prepared forecasting using finance case studies taught by J.B. Silvers.

      I can't imagine I could have done anything more enjoyable this summer than working at Amazon. I had a summer full of learning, fun and intellectual growth. During this time, I was able to travel to five states and try different cuisines.

      Summer fun is still going on. I am looking forward to get back to school soon and excited to meet you all.