Friday, March 11, 2011

Summer Internship Set!

Yes! I finally ended my summer internship saga this week by accepting an offer to work for Waste Management at its corporate headquarters in Houston. I will be working with the Organic Growth Group, a team which creates partnerships and makes venture capital investments in companies which have promising emerging waste conversion technologies. Over the past couple of years, WM has invested in companies which can convert biomass to electricity, specialty chemicals, and fuels such as natural gas. Over the long run, WM's corporate strategy is to integrate these technologies into their massive materials collection operation -- WM is the largest waste handler in the United States -- and generate additional income from the waste stream. They literally want to turn one man's trash into another's treasure!

The group recently got a nice little writeup in Fortune magazine and also some press in the green media regarding an investment in a biomass conversion company called Genomatica. Given my interests in sustainability and renewable energy, I think this position will be a great fit!

Like all those at Darden who have accepted offers I'm much relieved to be through the job search -- for now. The culture of first year at Darden, for better or worse, creates a feeling of anxiety around the whole internship thing. My colleague Yumi wrote a terrific post in the fall describing the process of running to company briefings "like a scared mouse", which captures it perfectly.

It needn't be this way -- just about every second year I've met had a worthwhile summer internship -- but at least the career services folks don't breed a feeling of complacency around here. You start by probing your inner self to conjure up what you really want to do, maybe discovering nothing. You run between briefings, collecting the occasional Chick-fil-A along the way. You draft and redraft and nitpick every single little word and phrase on your resume, culminating in Resumania!, an event whose name makes me think that we had sunk into a collective madness. You then!, calling every Darden alum you can find who will speak for 20 minutes (thankfully they have all been through this too and are very gracious). Then you nitpick every little word in your cover letters, culminating in CoverLetterMania!, respond to as many job postings as you can tolerate while managing your Term 3 exams, fly away to a job trek, take a day off for Christmas to catch your breath, interview...interview...INTERVIEW! in January and February (missing several of your classes for final rounds), and finally if you've played the game right you end up with a couple offers.

The feeling is often frantic, but if you put in a full effort and "trust the process" you might end up with a killer job, which is probably why you came to business school in the first place!

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