COVID-19 isn’t stopping Jenkins MBA students from making the most of their summer internships.
From the first day they set foot on campus, full-time MBA students have an eye out for summer internship opportunities that will help them launch meaningful careers after graduation. For many students, the task of landing an internship became more challenging than ever with the onset of COVID-19.
Ariel Shulman, a full-time MBA student who plans to graduate in 2021, spent the summer interning in the adult beverages division of Walmart’s merchandising operations department. “I came in without any retail experience, so I was prepared for a steep learning curve,” she remembers. Long days of interdepartmental Zoom meetings and a sea of acronyms made for a daunting start, but she was determined to prove that age and experience didn’t matter as long as she was willing to make an extraordinary effort.
Another 2021 graduate, Wade Johnson, received a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) internship offer from LendingTree, a Charlotte-based financial technology company, back in February. After four months of delays, LendingTree was forced to cancel its internship program. “I had no idea what to do,” he reflects. “I was discouraged at first because I knew how important the internship would be for the future. Thankfully, I was able to access NC State’s career network and opportunities. One of the things I value most about the MBA program is that I’m not just a number.”
After a flurry of networking calls and emails, Johnson found a position as a digital marketing intern for NC TECH Association, whose president is an alumnus of NC State. NC TECH has historically focused on supporting North Carolina’s tech sector through hosting large conferences, meetings, and other in-person events. “They hired me to transition all of their events to a virtual format in response to COVID-19,” says Johnson. “I knew I would have my work cut out for me.”
Though COVID-19 heavily impacted the way in which Shulman and Johnson carried out their summer internships, it certainly hasn’t prevent them from succeeding. At Walmart, Shulman was tasked with undertaking a project to organize her department’s complex data base to better understand the unique combinations of distributors that deliver to Walmart’s stores across the country. From the first day on the job, she worked long and hard to learn the complexities of the adult beverage supply chain.
“My internship provided an opportunity to use just about everything I’ve learned in my MBA classes,” affirms Shulman. “I was constantly referring back to the knowledge I gained from classes in supply chain management, consumer behavior and marketing.” She also had the opportunity to expand her skill set through using specialized software and data analytics tools. “I didn’t have a strong background in data and analytics, so my internship helped me learn to analyze information and make data-informed decisions,” she shares.
Ultimately, I was able to develop a solution that really benefited my department.
At the end of the summer, Shulman received a full-time job offer from Walmart. “My MBA internship was a major stepping stone,” she recognizes. “Even though I couldn’t work in person at the corporate office, I made so many connections that will serve me well. I’m grateful for the opportunities that NC State has provided to dive in and pursue my interests.”
Wade Johnson experienced similar success in his internship with NC TECH. With a background in digital marketing, he leveraged his skills to plan, advertise and run virtual events. Over the summer, he successfully planned and executed events with as many as 500 participants. “I frequently used the analytical skills I developed in my MBA program to look at data from our virtual events and gain insight into driving advertising and deliverables in the future,” he says. Johnson also points to the ways in which his internship experience broadened his perspective. “It definitely increased my business acumen, as I had only ever focused on marketing,” he affirms.
By working for a small organization, I learned more how the different parts of a business work together to accomplish a goal.
As Johnson looks ahead to graduation, he aims to land a position with a tech company in Raleigh, his hometown. “Through my internship at NC TECH, I’ve been able to work with folks I never would have had the opportunity to meet otherwise,” he reflects. “Now I have the connections and experience I need to move forward.”