Perfect Fit

When internships turn into careers

From the Fall 2015 edition of Vanderbilt Business


When Michael Scanlon accepted an internship, and then a job, with Apple Computer in 2001, his friends and relatives thought he was making a big mistake. The dot-com industry had just crashed, the job market was tight and then 9/11 happened. Apple had just introduced the iPod and the iPhone was another six years away.

“They told me I was going to be out of a job in a year or two if I chose to stay with Apple. But working there that summer made me feel otherwise,” Scanlon says. “I fell in love with the company and couldn’t see myself going anywhere else.”

Today Scanlon, MBA’02, is senior manager of worldwide store operations for Apple. As such, he oversees a team of managers and employees at centers in London, Shanghai and Cupertino, California.

During his internship, Scanlon worked on the company business plan for 2002, which came to $6 billion for the entire year. “Recently we announced quarterly revenue of close to $50 billion,” he notes by way of contrast.

All Vanderbilt MBA students, except those whose employers are paying for their education, are required to do a paid 10-week internship between their first and second year. Finding the right fit that leads to a full-time position, as Scanlon did, is one of the major benefits of the internship program, says Emily Anderson, director of the school’s Career Management Center.

“I fell in love with the company and couldn’t see myself going anywhere else.”—Michael Scanlon, MBA’02

“We help the students figure out possible career avenues and understand the longer-term career progression,” Anderson says. “For the past two years, 50 percent have come back with job offers right after their internship.”

For every Michael Scanlon who finds the perfect fit, others find what they don’t want to do. Anderson says those experiences lead them to better decisions about companies for the job hunt during their second year.

A good deal for recruiters

Internships are a good deal for the recruiting company, too. “A lot of companies would like to do full-time recruitment through internships and fill three-quarters of their recruiting class that way,” Anderson says.

John Kingston, MBA'07
John Kingston, MBA’07

John Kingston, MBA’07, former director of the Global Industries Group at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, says he preferred to hire most of his associates through internships. “An internship is like a 10-week job interview,” he says. “What better way to feel confident about a hire?

“Interns gave us a new pool of valuable resources. They were part of our team,” he says. “By the end of the internship, some were operating at a higher level than our full-time associates. That momentum carried over when they were hired. In a fast-moving, competitive job, it makes a real difference.”

When interviewing interns, Kingston looked for certain traits: “First, a high level of comfort with numbers; second, the ability to organize and prioritize; and finally, a good attitude and real interest in the job.”

Right fit, right company

“An internship is like a 10-week job interview.”—John Kingston, MBA’07

Recruiting is part of the job for Janet Nelson, MBA’07, senior human resources manager of Procter & Gamble’s North American Feminine Care and Baby Care division. Although her first responsibility is providing HR support for her vice president, she also has recruited Vanderbilt MBA interns for P&G for the past eight years.

“We’ve had great success,” she says. “Owen is one of our core recruiting schools for the HR function.” Vanderbilt MBA alumni currently hold five HR management positions at the company.

Nelson, whose MBA focus was human and organization performance, became interested in P&G during her first year at Owen, when the school encouraged her to attend the National Black MBA Conference. After an initial interview at the conference, she had a second interview at the company’s Cincinnati headquarters. She completed an internship in 2006 and joined the company after graduation in 2007.

Janet Nelson, MBA'07
Janet Nelson, MBA’07

“What drew me to P&G is the same thing I look for in interns,” she says. “We want ethical people who can win by doing the hard, right thing, rather than the easy, wrong thing.

“As a recruiter, I look for someone who has a track record of delivering results in a collaborative way, someone who works well with others but also takes initiative. Since P&G builds from within, we want people who not only have drive and ambition, but also feel a sense of obligation to build those around them.”

During her internship, Nelson worked in product supply operations and helped with P&G sponsorship activities at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. While working on the latter, she had the opportunity to interact with P&G’s current and former CEOs, A.G. Lafley and John Pepper, respectively.

“It’s not often that interns get to engage with company leaders at that level,” she observes.

As a single mother, Nelson found the company’s commitment to work-life balance and job flexibility very attractive. “The level of trust, support and responsibility are what drew me to P&G, and they are what keep me here,” she says.

Developing leadership

Hillary Carroll Jeffries, MBA’14, entered the career development program at DaVita Inc. following her internship with the company, which is one of the largest providers of dialysis services in the United States.

Jeffries and 18 other graduates of the nation’s top business schools participated in DaVita’s nine-month Redwoods Resident Leadership Development Program based in Denver.

“During the first three months, we explored different aspects of the business,” she says. “I traveled to all the corporate departments in the U.S. and was exposed to many company leaders. For the next six months, I worked as the facility administrator of a dialysis clinic, responsible for running the clinic.”

Today, Jeffries is on track to become director of business relationship management for DaVita’s IT organization.

“I support three vice presidents of clinical enterprise who are responsible for major clinical changes. I help develop the right IT solutions for initiatives they are working on,” she says.

Hillary Carroll Jeffries, MBA’14 (right), in 2013 with fellow Owen interns Tyler Narveson, MBA’14, and Allyson Mariani, MBA’14, at DaVita company headquarters in Denver.
Hillary Carroll Jeffries, MBA’14 (right), in 2013 with fellow Owen interns Tyler Narveson, MBA’14, and Allyson Mariani, MBA’14, at DaVita company headquarters
in Denver.

Jeffries secured the DaVita internship through Vanderbilt’s recruiting process. “DaVita has a close relationship with Owen,” she says. “It’s a core recruiting school for the company. Two other Owen students were recruited for internships with DaVita my year, and all of us accepted job offers.”

During the fall semester of her first year at Owen, Jeffries spoke with a Career Management Center career adviser. “My adviser helped me decide between the two internship offers I received,” she recalls. “I chose DaVita because it has a collaborative culture like Owen’s.”

Unsure whether to go into finance, IT or some other aspect of the health care field, Jeffries appreciated being introduced to companies with a leadership development program.

Anderson says the CMC helps students like Jeffries understand how their career aspirations and skill sets fit into different companies’ cultures. The center coaches students on how to interview and make a positive impression, holds career fairs, and helps students network with alumni, faculty and visiting companies.

“We’re going to have 80 companies on campus throughout the year,” Anderson says. “We currently have 617 job postings for interns and full-time positions. We like to have relationships with companies that will recruit year in and year out, and our students gravitate toward them.”

Consulting and international business

Peter Attwater, MBA'14
Peter Attwater, MBA’14

As a senior consultant in strategy and operations at Deloitte Consulting, Peter Attwater, MBA’14, has a variety of responsibilities. “My job includes analyzing data, conducting interviews, synthesizing information, mentoring junior staff, and developing materials to provide insights, analysis and recommendations to our clients,” he says.

“I worked on a project in St. Paul, Minnesota, for a four-hospital health system that needed to implement its new electronic health-record system in time to meet the federal deadline,” he recalls. Because of his pre-Owen background in revenue cycle consulting for hospitals, he was given the opportunity to lead a client workgroup during the project. “It was a great opportunity to leverage my past work experience and accelerate learning all the steps required to implement a new technology solution,” Attwater says.

“I left knowing exactly what kind of client I wanted to work with.”—Mary Hsu

Internships are not limited to MBA programs. As part of Vanderbilt’s one-year Master of Accountancy, Mary Hsu, MAcc’09, completed a winter internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers that led to a job offer after graduation. Today she is on her second multiyear international rotation, based in Geneva as an assurance manager in audit practice.

Her PwC internship led Mary Hsu, MAcc’09, to assignments around the globe.
Her PwC internship led Mary Hsu, MAcc’09, to assignments around the globe.

“I primarily serve large U.S. multinationals,” she says. “I help oversee our audit teams, work with clients on various accounting issues, and act as a liaison between different client service teams.”

Hsu met PwC and other big accounting firms through the MAcc program’s campus recruiting events. She spent months networking—even before classes started—and then had formal interviews during the program’s Immersion Week.

“The internship was a good chance to see what a typical ‘busy season’ was like for a public accountant,” she says. “I left knowing exactly what kind of client I wanted to work with.”

During the past six years, Hsu has lived in the U.S., Singapore and Switzerland. She has done stints in China, India, Canada, France, Belgium and Northern Ireland.

Michael Scanlon, MBA'02
Michael Scanlon, MBA’02

Multiple advantages

In addition to securing a job offer at the end of their internships, alumni point to other advantages of the experience.

“I got to meet a ton of new people that I am still good friends with today,” Attwater says. “Whether it was the Owen alums that came back to campus to recruit, the members of my project team, or the other MBA students in my internship class, I had significant opportunities to meet new people and expand my network.”

Hsu agrees. “I still work with a client from my internship today,” she says. She also works in Switzerland with the PwC associate who was assigned to be her peer buddy during her internship.

Scanlon says that his Apple internship allowed him to apply what he learned in school to a real-world environment. “It helped me understand if I was going in the right direction with my MBA,” he says. “It validated my career goal.” ■