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Fridays from the Frontline: How Kelley Prepared Me – First-Year to Internship

For MBA students, the coveted summer internship is a stepping stone to the career of their dreams. The internship may help get your foot in the door, but the lessons from the first-year of business school can inform a stronger impression on a potential future employer.

Current Indiana / Kelley MBA student Whitney Hamilton took to the Kelley blog to unpack exactly how her first year at Kelley helped set her up for success as Brand Intern at Conagra.

How Kelley Prepared Me: First-year to Internship

Whitney Hamilton, MBA’20

This time last year, I was preparing to start a new chapter of my life at the Kelley School of Business. I had just quit my job in Chicago and celebrated at my going away party with friends and family. An entire year later, I look back with CORE behind me, new lifelong friends, and global experiences.

Now that I am 5 weeks into my summer internship, I get the chance to reflect on my first-year through a new lens: how it prepared me to succeed as an intern. I am thrilled to be spending my summer at Conagra as a Brand Intern. The top three things that helped me put my best foot forward during my internship are:

Professor Jonlee Andrews & Academy Projects
I was involved in the Consumer Marketing Academy (CMA) led by Jonlee Andrews. During 2nd semester we participated in an Academy Project where my classmates and I got the opportunity to work with top CPG companies (i.e. Nestle, E&J Gallo, P&G, and Scott’s) on real challenges that they are facing and deliver a recommendation. Between the practical Academy Project, and lessons from Jonlee on how to approach any project, I really got the chance to think outside the box and preview what to expect as a summer intern. My Academy Project experience really set the stage for me to succeed and I have even referred to my notes during my internship.

Professor John Hill & Excel
Effective brand management requires understanding analytics and knowing how to really dig into data (sales, consumer behavior, etc.). Without my Quant. and Intro to Spreadsheet Modeling courses, both taught by John Hill, I would probably have spent the first 5 weeks of my internship analyzing data one line at a time – Ha! The shortcuts and in-depth understanding of Excel have been instrumental—especially since my knowledge of Excel prior to Kelley was fairly basic.

Support System
Though I’m not on campus, I still feel like I am because of the support system that Kelley fosters. The internship experience has been a challenge, but I love it! One reason I decided to get my MBA is because I wanted to be challenged and expand my options for professional development, which I am getting at my internship. One major reason I am thriving throughout this experience is due to the support I have. I can call or email any of my professors if I need help thinking through an idea; I can call on Graduate Career Services with any question I have about networking and navigating through my company to make sure I am connecting with the right people; I can call on Kelley alumni who have been reliable and encouraging since I applied to the school; and finally I can call on my classmates for help with making a pivot table, to vent about my mishaps, and celebrate my wins.

So….has Kelley prepared me for my summer internship? Absolutely. While you’re in school, you may feel like you are going through information overload and think, “How am I possibly going to remember all of this?” But believe me, you do! It comes back to you as you’re having conversations with your manager, and your team, and as you build out your project recommendations for the summer.

Kelley also prepared me to enjoy the experience as well! Don’t forget to build those relationships this summer outside of the project. I am now confident that my first-year experiences at Kelley really prepared to hit the ground running.


Posted in: Fridays from the Frontline, MBA Feature, Weekly Columns

Schools: Indiana / Kelley

About the Author

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.

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