Before arriving at HBS, current students and alumni told me that “the possibilities [at HBS] were endless”. I listened but did not believe the power of those words until this summer…
Last year, I made a decision: I would not interview. In fact, my HBS essays focused on my desire to eventually create my own consulting firm. During the summer, I wanted to test the entrepreneurial waters and focused on two industries of interest: hotel/lodging and airlines. I emailed alumni who could potentially sell me a short, strategy piece for the summer. I could never have anticipated the type of responses I received. Every one of the alumni that I contacted replied to my request with useful referrals, suggestions, and even a potential project. After several weeks of exchanging emails, I successfully sold an independent project to Hilton International (HUKI) in England. The HBS alumnus at HUKI and I negotiated my salary, accommodations, meal allowances, travel, and research support. He even gave me an assistant. I could not have asked for anything more!
I spent my summer performing cost and feasibility analyses and creating a framework to determine the future outsourcing strategy for the company’s laundering services. (Yes, yes, it sounds so consultant-like, but hey, that’s what I am…) By plane, taxi, train, and bus, I traveled hundreds of miles and saw quaint cities that even some of the British have not seen. From Glasgow to Newcastle to Brighton to Belfast, I covered every inch of UK and Ireland. I even modeled cash flows to help Hilton decide whether to buy its own cleaning factory. (thanks to Professors Scharfstein and Bergstresser, for helping me out here.)
I know linen sounds mundane, but I met phenomenal people who ‘live and breathe’ bed linen and toweling. These hotel employees really care about the quality of service a guest encounters and make painstaking efforts to ensure that a guest’s stay is comfortable. I toured the laundry facilities of most properties and saw the operational intricacies of the hotel business. When possible, I ate in the staff canteen, attended employee meetings and even sat down with the President of Hilton International to fervently discuss the issues facing his organization.
This summer was my ideal internship. Because of the alumni network, I happily explored the entrepreneurial side of consulting. As ECs begin to look for full-time opportunities and RCs look for internships, remember that “the possibilities [at HBS] are endless.” You just have to find them.