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Where in the World did you Spend your Summer–Mia Saini (OC)

Reporting LIVE from New York City.

Mia Saini used to work for an investment bank before coming to HBS with aspirations to become a business journalist. The Harbus turned the tables to ask her some questions about her summer experience.

HARBUS: What did you do this summer?

Mia Saini (MS): I did two things this summer. The majority of my summer was spent working for my dream company, CNBC. After working in Hedge Fund Sales for a bulge bracket investment bank in NYC I knew I wanted to take my trading floor knowledge, passion for the markets, and experience working with hedge funds to the big screen. The second part of my summer was a complete surprise because I came across the position more than halfway through my summer. It also turned into a full time job during the current academic year. Essentially, I helped the website, www.mbapodcaster.com, think strategically about entering the online video market. As a result, I helped to introduce a TV channel, MBA PodTV, to its audience of 60,000 unique listeners. I’m also its video host and have a weekly show.

HARBUS: Busy summer! What exactly did you do at CNBC?

MS: I had a few roles at CNBC that spawned both the creative and business sides. With respect to the creative side, I was a producer for Squawk Box, CNBC’s morning show from 6 to 9 am. In this capacity, what I did this summer was not that different from what I did during my RC year. As HBS students we are trained to walk into a case discussion ready to ask lots of questions, always teasing out the rationale, counterarguments, and truths. We are taught to never be satisfied with an answer-to constantly probe and voice our concerns and opinions. We are taught to analyze data and financial statements and not to be fooled by statistics, historical trends, and forecasts. We also are taught to LISTEN.really LISTEN. All of these things helped me enormously this summer. I was part of an amazing and talented team of producers responsible for developing the content of the show by determining the guests we wanted, the topics we wanted to cover, and the style we wanted the show to follow. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet portfolio managers, Congressmen, and real estate moguls, and more importantly to pick their brain. It was a blast, despite the fact that my alarm would go off at 4:45 a.m.!

In addition to the production side, I was chosen to be part of a NBC Universal marketing team called REEL Intern. In this role I got to wear a strategic marketing hat. We were tasked to create a digital marketing campaign to promote the NBC Universal brand to college and graduate students. Through this opportunity, I had the chance to interview Al Roker, Ann Curry, and Tiki Barber for a campaign video.

HARBUS: You didn’t get paid this summer so you could do an internship with a company you care about deeply. What are your thoughts on this? Do you recommend it?

MS: Most media and entertainment companies don’t pay. I was okay with this because I knew I would get more value out of the experience by getting my foot in the door. I got everything I wanted out of my summer.industry contacts, resume reel, journalism experience, exposure to senior management, and access to the movers and shakers on Wall Street and in Washington. I recommend foregoing the salary if you honestly think the company values you and your contributions. I knew CNBC cared about me. It was clear with the way my boss cared about my career goals and how he always made sure I was engaged.

HARBUS: Why are you passionate about business journalism?

MS: I am passionate about a lot of things! The HBS mission statement is: “To produce leaders who make a difference in the world.” I would like to make a difference by educating people from all backgrounds about the financial markets, the importance of managing personal finances, and general business topics. I want to make financial news fun, accessible, and understandable to the masses. Many people think TV news is a bunch of people reading teleprompters reporting on sensational stories. I want to change that way of thinking by producing high quality, investigative stories. Upon graduation, journalism is one way to do this, but so is working in corporate management for a television network or acting as a consultant for big media and entertainment companies.

HARBUS: What were the highlights of your summer internship?

MS: I had the opportunity to cover the new release of Apple’s iPhone 3GS. I was at the 5th Avenue flagship Apple Store in NYC at 3:30 a.m. interviewing people who were standing in line. Also, I attended the Bernard Madoff Sentencing. I remember standing outside the courthouse and interviewing victims of Madoff’s ponzi scheme. It was heartbreaking to listen to their stories.

HARBUS: And the MBApodcaster.com opportunity?

MS: This opportunity is great because I got to wear both a business and creative hat. As host of MBA PodTV, I interview business school admission directors and deans across the country about how to get into business school and the value of an MBA. Our videos officially launch in October, but we have a few trailers on our website. Check them out!

HARBUS: Any words of advice for RC students looking at summer internships?

MS: Go against the herd especially if you already have corporate experience! It’s only for one summer! It might be scary and full of uncertainty. But do it. You will be so much happier. My sister is a RC and that is what I tell her. If you love what you do, the money will follow. I promise.

Keep an eye out for the launch of Mia’s latest undertaking – a financial advice column coming soon to the pages of The Harbus.

September 21, 2009
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