Internship Hunting Tips for First Year MBA Students

MBA Student Amanda Gao interviews second-year MBA Robin Gustaffson on her eCommerce internship at PETCO from June to August, 2016. The internship has become a full-time job for Robin, where she currently works as an Assistant Program Manager in the eCommerce area. Here Robin shares a few thoughts on her internship and offers advice for MBA students.

  1. Could you tell us about your internship experience this semester such as your role, the tasks you performed or projects that you worked on? How did you benefit from this experience?  

I had an awesome internship experience! I ended up taking an internship role in the eCommerce department at Petco, which is headquartered out of San Diego. Petco’s internship program was amazing. I was assigned a real problem facing the eCommerce department of Petco and worked cross-functionally to provide recommendations to leadership. My biggest recommendation for students in internship programs is to take advantage of the experiences and guidance of current employees at the company where you intern. Although I was in the eCommerce department, I made sure to meet and learn about the roles of employees across Petco’s various departments. This gave me a unique look into some roles and positions that had always interested me. It also allowed me to consider my project from a variety of angles and perspectives. Asking questions and being willing to learn will go a long way.


  1. How did you get your MBA summer internship? Do you have any suggestions for first-year MBA students on how to maximize their internship search?

I found the position that I ended up taking through USD’s internal job listing site. USD has many great tools for finding internships, including its network of students and alumni. Most of my peers found roles through networking and connections. As a first year student, you should not be afraid to reach out to second years and alumni. Although I ended up pursuing another option, one offers I received was through connecting with alumni.

The sooner you get started on your internship hunt, the sooner you will get a position and the sooner you can stop worrying about it! However, if you didn’t happen to apply to internships that were posted in the Fall cycle, don’t worry. There are plenty of internship options that open up in the Spring semester. It is definitely a stressful experience, so it’s important to relax. I didn’t hear from any companies for months and it was easy to start panicking. Unfortunately, that’s just the nature of the beast. By late April, I was still waiting to hear back on my applications and was beginning to think that I was not going to find a position.  Right as I was becoming desperate, I heard from three companies all in the same week. If you put the work in, it will pay off.


3.How did USD’s MBA program help you with the process?

USD’s MBA program helps by providing real, relevant experiences that you can speak to throughout the application and interview process. By the time I received an interview opportunity, I had engaged in several consulting projects through the MBA program. These consulting projects were across a variety of industries and required unique problem solving.  The skills that I developed by working on these projects were the skills that I spoke to during my interviews and ultimately helped land me a job. In addition to the classwork, USD’s Career Services department was crucial throughout my internship hunt. The staff of Career Services,including James Sillcox, was my go-to when I had doubts, questions, or just needed an ear to listen.


Post submitted by Amanda (Hong) Gao, a second-year MBA candidate in the Full-Time MBA Program: International Business track.  Prior to USD , Amanda worked as Sales and Marketing Manager for Hong Kong Airlines in Beijing, China

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