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Fridays from the Frontline: 4 Lessons from My Microsoft Internship

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Internships are where MBAs-to-be can apply the theoretical skills they’ve cultivated in the classroom, and also places where connections and careers are made. Make an impression at your dream company as an MBA and who knows? You might find yourself being invited to working closely with the C-Suite after graduation.

Second-year Tiffany Ellis took to the Duke / Fuqua blog to share four crucial lessons she learned from her recent internship at Microsoft.

The following piece has been republished in its entirety from its original source, the Duke Fuqua Blog.

4 Lessons from My Microsoft Internship

By Tiffany Ellis

MBA internships are great opportunities to apply skills gained during your first year and learn additional skills that will make you a well-rounded future business leader. Landing a Microsoft internship as a product marketing manager (PMM) was my ultimate dream and one that came true this past summer. I learned a tremendous amount during those 12 weeks, and I want to share four key lessons I learned:

1. Be multidisciplined.

As a PMM, be prepared to play several different roles. I had the opportunity to work cross-functionally and influence key stakeholders on my new ideas. There were several times I had to switch roles, adapt to unexpected challenges, and appreciate the needs and values of my stakeholder to accomplish the end goal. So be ready to design, consult, sell, execute, and lead. Showing the organization you can jump into any role to get the job done, is a perfect way to succeed in your internship.

“Seattle’s Signature Event”

2. Ideation is cool. Implementation is even better.

Managers love interns because we bring fresh ideas and insights. On the other hand, what makes you stand out more during the internship is how well you can execute a strategy. As a PMM, I created and executed a marketing strategy to drive adoption of a Microsoft product across various industries. I was pushed out of my comfort zone and realized that I am creative and a great executor. Take your internship to the next level by executing your strategy and executing it well.

3. Don’t underestimate the power of networking.

“Enjoying the Seattle area’s outdoors”

Have you ever heard the saying “your network is your net worth?” Well, it’s actually a very powerful phrase that can take you far in your next career. Microsoft has over 120,000 employees who believe in collaboration and building on the works of others. During my internship, I learned the importance of leveraging the right contacts. I conducted several informational meetings with counterparts inside and outside my team to learn more about other organizations and Microsoft’s culture. It was during those moments I learned the implications of my project for my team as well as others.

4. Enjoy the summer!

Believe it or not, a 12-week internship goes by pretty fast. While you may want to focus on preparing for meetings, networking with full-time employees, and delivering your final brief, don’t forget the summer is yours. This is the time to meet interns from other business programs, explore the city, and take on new experiences. While in Seattle, I hiked five different trails, dined at more than 20 new restaurants, and gained a tremendous amount of new memories and friends.

Jonathan Pfeffer
Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as Contributing Writer at MetroMBA and Contributing Editor at Clear Admit, he was also a co-founder of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.