After spending four years in finance first in M&A and then in private equity, I was pretty confident that “trying something new” this past summer would have been next to impossible. This was confirmed when I couldn’t even get an interview with non-profits!
However, I discovered a little known and little discussed secret; there are hundreds of companies in second tier cities that are thrilled to have a summer MBA, especially from HBS. Yes I know you want to live in New York and lock up an offer by September, but if you are willing to spend the summer in Portland, Memphis, Cleveland or Tampa/St Petersburg (where I was) and alike, there can be great opportunities to work at mid-size companies and flourish.
Admittedly, I submitted my resume on a website or two, and I did get an offer at a Fortune 500 company for $7.00 an hour (email me and I’ll tell you who). However, I eventually landed a job (with the help of a fellow first year, my hero) at Danka Office Imaging.
Danka is a NASDAQ traded company that sells and services copiers and other related office equipment. It has about $1.5 billion in revenues and 10,000 employees worldwide. I guess the title of my position was “assistant to the CEO and CFO” but it was much more than that.
In my eleven weeks at Danka, I spent a week doing research in London (on the company expense account), I made a presentation to the board of directors, I wrote a white paper on the company’s strategy and presented it to the CEO, I helped procure a new software package, I assisted in designing their monthly reporting package, and built a model to look at product level profitability and payback periods. The management team was very talented and made every effort to get to know me and include me on meetings over the course of the summer.
I believe the moral of this story is that if you are flexible on location and are primarily looking for a good working experience for the summer, plenty of non-traditional opportunities are out there. You do not have to be limited to on-campus recruiting or the alumni advisory website, but only your own expectations and creativity.