To Intern or Not? That is the Question

The real world reared its ugly head over the last few weeks, as cohort students began to think about their lives outside of the HBS bubble. In pursuit of August internship positions, approximately half of the cohort interviewed with a range of consulting and investment banking firms.

After the interviews concluded, the response from the Jans was generally very positive. The case interviews were not as tough as most had envisioned, and the interviewers treated applicants as though they were clients.

As the internship offers filtered in, however, many Jans were still debating the tradeoffs of doing an internship versus enjoying the three-week break. Trips to Turkey and Europe seem to be top on most Januaries’ list, with spending time with friends and family coming in a close second. Thus far, most of those who received offers are accepting them-the only known regrets are due to conflicts, since a number of the internships will run concurrently through the break.

Positive impressions aside, last week’s marathon of interviews did have some Januaries pondering whether or not a consulting or banking internship was right for them, or better yet whether three weeks seaside was a preferable option. One early victim of the game, Mark Cicirelli, NH, decided following Thursday’s round that a trip to Turkey was in his best interest.

After his interview, he was pondering whether or not he had actually estimated that the market size for paper cups at 500 trillion per year. After realizing that his estimate exceeded the world’s population by a factor of 100, his argument about paper cups being a strong growth industry might have been a bit overstated. Wandering away deep in thought, he wandered, “No doubt about it-paper cups are going to be big”.

Another applicant, who prefers to remain anonymous, started his first interview with a brand new pen he had purchased specifically for the occasion. Sadly the pen failed him, however, and managed to explode in his hand as he began writing down the case facts. A few minutes into the interview, he thought his hands were sweating, and nonchalantly he reached down to wipe the sweaty spot off on his suit, but to his horror he found a pool of blue ink in the palm of his hand!
Trying desperately to rid himself of the surplus fluid without causing a break in the case or losing his composure, he managed to smear most of it into his palm and onto the back of spare sheet of paper he hurriedly thrust under the table.

When that didn’t work, he resigned himself to wringing his hand off under the table letting the fluid fall to the carpet. He spent the remainder of the interview wondering if his face was smeared in the same deep blue as his hand, and debating whether or not his interviewer would share that current event with him if she saw it.

Despite our fears and worst nightmares concerning the dreaded case interview, most of us enjoyed ourselves. Mark for one received an offer to intern with a top tier firm and will not be headed to Turkey as planned, but off to the coast for a week of R&R, and the second gracious interviewer overlooked the exploding pen and the applicant’s ill attempts to conceal it. Our hats are off to the interviewers who gave us all a taste of what it is like to be the client and overlooked our minor difficulties with decimals, orders of magnitude estimates and exploding pens.

July 2, 2001
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