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My Summer with Carnival Corporation

This summer I worked at Carnival Corporation in Miami, Florida. I was an intern with Management Advisory Services (“MAS”), Carnival’s internal strategic consulting group, the purpose of which is to analyze and detect various opportunities within the organization and its operating companies to become more efficient, reduce costs, etc.

Although I had always been interested in the travel industry in general, and the cruise industry in particular, I lacked experience and therefore had no contacts (prior to HBS, I was a banker). As a result, I had to perform the dreaded “networked job search.” The process turned out to be painless, spanned about two months, of which a month and three quarters were spent procrastinating, which I would not recommend – I happened to luck out.

In February, upon realizing that Hell Week had come and gone and that I had slept through it, I got on the alumni database and, for the first time, used it for something other than random name-surfing. Low and behold, the Treasurer of Carnival is an HBS alum. I proceeded to write him a detailed email. In it, I identified myself, explained how I’d always been interested in the industry, and would love to chat with him on the phone at his earliest convenience about the prospect of working at Carnival over the summer. I was sure to make the email personal and passionate. I received an immediate response, and arranged a time in the coming week to follow up with a phone call. During the phone call, I stated my position – that I was a first-year student looking for something different and interesting to do over the summer, that I was flexible with pay and function, and that my goal was simply to gain experience in the cruise industry. The gist of my contact’s reaction was that he wasn’t aware of any room for an intern within his own group (which secretly pleased me, since the last thing I needed was more finance experience) but that he’d be happy to forward my resume around the firm. I hung up the phone, proud of myself for having made the attempt, but not optimistic that this would lead to anything. About six weeks later, however, I received a voicemail from the head of Strategic Projects offering me a summer internship. I hadn’t even interviewed.

Overall, I had a great summer in Miami. A large part of the learning experience consisted of discovering what I don’t enjoy, and what types of environments are not well-suited to my personality. For example, although I found our projects meaningful, and felt that our group added value, the pace at which we completed these projects was too slow.

In the end, I came away having gained insight not only into how one non-professional services company operates, but also, more importantly, into the conditions under which I feel most and least fulfilled.

November 22, 2004
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