Want An Internship Next Summer? Start Now, Relationships Take Time

August 23, 2013

This time last year, I was feeling overwhelmed sitting in orientation for my MBA program at the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University. Not only was I about to start an academically challenging graduate program, I was also expected to find a competitive internship.

During orientation, many of the day’s speakers - a mix of professors and folks from career services - talked about how critical our professional network would be in securing an internship. A major point they made was how professional networks take time to build, and they recommended that we get started right away.

So with a good deal of determination, I started thinking about where I wanted to intern at the beginning of the semester. I knew I wanted to pursue a role in marketing so I focused my search by identifying companies that make products I love. After all, if I was going to market and evangelize a product, I wanted to make sure I truly believed in it. LinkedIn was at the top of the list.

Unfortunately for me, I did not know anyone that worked in marketing at LinkedIn. But through a search on LinkedIn, I quickly discovered that the head of marketing for the team I was most interested in was a second degree connection. I reached out to our mutual connection, a friend from college, to see if he would be open to making an introduction. My friend made an inMail introduction between me and Ralf Vonsossen at the end of September.

When I visited the Bay Area a few weeks later, I asked Ralf if I could swing by the LinkedIn offices to meet in person. We talked at a picnic table outside the office for about 20 minutes and I got an insider’s perspective of LinkedIn. Over the next few months, I reached out periodically to touch base. I also kept an eye out for what he was posting on LinkedIn and made sure to share any relevant industry news with him.

I followed up after holiday break in January and started to inquire about the internship process. A few weeks later, he invited me to do a phone interview. Then an onsite interview, and by mid-February (5 months after my very first contact) I had an MBA internship offer for the summer on the marketing team.

derek pando in

Today is the last day of my internship and it has been an amazing experience. For those who may be embarking on an internship search in the next few weeks, below is a presentation I put together on Slideshare with a few tips on how MBA students can leverage LinkedIn, but the same advice goes for undergrads and even PhDs. Get started early!

[slideshare id=24958279&doc=8tipsformbastudentstouselinkedin-130805195636-phpapp01]

If you’re curious about the life of a LinkedIn MBA intern, take 90 seconds and watch this video that I created during the summer here.