Four Takeaways from the Summer Internship Search

Ilana Rosen, Contributor

In my past life, I was paid to help people choose between offers and worked with people on their career logic. For example, what comes next if there are too many options? How do I tell a story about this transition? How does this fit into my past experience? How can we make this look like the transition was always a part of the plan?

CPD has been fantastic, but it’s always useful having someone who has shared your experience in the classroom and in the summer internship scramble weigh in.

After speaking with dozens of students, there are several common themes that have come up time and again.

  1. The struggle between doing what is safe and doing something uncomfortable/different/risky.

This is one of the only times in your life that you can try something out for two months without looking “jumpy.” Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to go this summer, and if it makes sense for you, intelligent risk-taking can be extremely empowering (and a great narrative for interviewing).

2. We are faced with a supply/demand problem. Do not let this discourage you.

There are very few formal MBA internships available, and lots of brilliant MBAs gunning for jobs from HBS, Wharton, Booth, Stanford, Columbia, Kellogg, and other schools. When we get to full-time recruiting, there will be many more opportunities open to us. Just because it feels hard now does not mean it will be hard later.

3. I came to HBS to find my true passion, and it hasn’t happened. Now what?

Sometimes it feels like we barely have enough time to sleep, let alone decide our one true calling in life. If the lightbulb hasn’t flickered on yet, it’s because it’s not time for you to make a decision yet. Enjoy the ride, and try to step outside of your comfort zone. Creating a framework, where you begin to cross things you don’t like to do off your list, is the best way forward.

You don’t need to know what your life at 40 looks like right now. All you need to decide is where you want to spend two months this summer.

4. There are many different paths you can take in pursuit of your ultimate goal. The most traditional path might not be the best path.

There is a lot of pressure from our classmates, our families, and most of all ourselves to get the “right” job. There is no such thing as the “correct” path or the right job. Just because most people that get internal strategy roles had prior management consulting experience does not mean that every internal strategist worked as a consultant before joining.

You have already beat the odds by getting selected to be a member of Harvard Business School, and you will continue to beat the odds for the rest of your life. So if the traditional path does not pan out, start getting creative and executing your plan B (or plan C or plan D).

When faced with a difficult job hunt, try to keep Teddy Roosevelt’s old adage in mind: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”


Before coming to HBS, Ilana Rosen (MBA ’19) spent four years living in Hong Kong, where she worked as an Entrepreneur and Executive Recruiter in the Advanced Analytics space. This summer she will be one of two nationally selected MBA interns to join Marriot’s Management Acceleration Program, where she will split her time between Marriott International’s corporate office and their West Coast regional office.