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MBA Summer Internship Reflections

Where has the time gone?  With the summer all but behind us, another chapter closes in this book on my Jenkins MBA journey.  Having just wrapped up a productive internship with Blue Cross of NC I turn to face my next challenge.  As I enter my final year as a Jenkins MBA candidate I do so with a renewed sense of confidence and motivation.  For those of you “on-the-go” types, I won’t bore you with the minutiae. If I were to give you the “Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR)” version it would be this:

  • Pursuing an MBA was the best decision of my life
  • The Jenkins MBA excels where others fail in terms of analytics, critical thinking, and leadership, breadth and depth of course content
  • Interning is the only way to spend your summer, especially if you choose a field that you are unfamiliar with
  • You are more valuable then you know; your life experiences, educational background, and current MBA program truly do set you apart from your peers and bring value to any organization

These distillations of the last several weeks are obvious now, but not so then.  Earlier in the summer I was asked to write about my expectations of the upcoming internship.  I suppose my cohorts and I shared the same sentiments, we were all a bit uneasy. Some of us career shifters were using the internship as a way to test the waters in another industry or role.  While others, having moved from undergrad straight through to the MBA program, used it as a way to gauge their aptitudes and explore their areas of interest.

In my case, I was able to lean on my previous graduate degree while employing some of what I learned through my concentrations in the MBA program-Innovation and Marketing Management.  Truthfully, my expectations weren’t necessarily low but rather open. Having never interned before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I recall hearing intern horror stories where some interns didn’t actually have real, meaningful work for the 10-week period.  Others might have only seen their managers on the first day, only to never see them again. Trust me, I’d heard some truly sad accounts, mine in no way resembled these though.

In my case, it was the exact opposite.  In fact, we were working on such long-term and complex projects that we actually explored extending my time there.  In the end it was agreed that completing the MBA program while still extending the internship by three weeks was the next best alternative.  I was still able to make a significant impact within the operations side of Blue Cross of NC, while making some truly great connections and friendships.  I was fortunate to learn from seasoned industry veterans and will certainly heed their advice!

Sadly, I’m not even sure I can discuss what it was that we were working on!  What I can say though is that our projects were exactly what I was hoping for.  Not only was I able to call upon my investigative skills while rooting out business problems, but I was able to use some of what I learned in my leadership courses when collaborating with peers in the different business units.  

The work we were doing traversed every single piece of the business.  Our ideation led us to conduct business process and architecture analysis.  These analyses then led us to ask more and more probing questions. From there we were able to solicit relevant data from our Data and Analytics teams.  After fully understanding the scope of our problem we were then able to collaborate with our applications developers and programmers to prototype. Once our first prototype was created we solicited feedback from the end user’s to better inform us for the next iteration.  It was truly a confirmation that the Jenkins MBA program had done their homework. I was doing exactly what I been taught, and it was exhilarating!

Now in my previous post, I mentioned that I might be able to come up with some solutions that would impact North Carolinians.  I can’t help but look back now and chuckle at the naivety of that statement. Indeed, it was a lofty proposition, but one that became a self-fulfilling prophecy.  BlueCross of NC is a big operation, 5000+ strong in fact. But they are surprisingly nimble and receptive to change. I think that the leadership recognizes that a change in the healthcare industry is coming, and their only real options are to adapt and evolve.  Because of this, it is truly a great time to be in Innovation and really a great time to be at Blue Cross of NC.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this final point.  I wrote briefly on culture in my previous post, and I still think it is important.  Really use that internship to assess the fit!  Because of the right leadership and a culture that fosters innovation, my summer was made all the more memorable.  I can only hope that others share the same experience.

I’m looking forward to these last several months of the Jenkins MBA program.  While I’ll be 100% focused on my current course work (Innovation Management, Marketing Management, GA responsibilities, and a Decision Analytics Certificate), I can’t help but consider the future and wonder what exciting opportunities await us post-graduation.  Without a doubt, it is an exciting time to be alive and studying in such a forward-thinking program.

Good luck to my fellow cohorts, and welcome to the new class!

Chris Hoina is a rising second year student in the Jenkins Full-time MBA program at NC State University.

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