Robert De Niro and I have a lot in common – we are both a little old to be interns. But, like in the movie, my internship at HBX was a fantastic experience. Since I was completing a MSc in Russian and East European Studies and then beginning an MBA three months later, I figured an internship at HBX would be a great way to spend my summer. Luckily, HBX thought so as well!
I decided to pursue an internship with HBX for a few different reasons. First, it was an opportunity to work at Harvard Business School and second, I was looking to gain experience working for a larger organization (I had started my own small business, but I don’t count that as formal working experience). In addition, I got paid (which was an extra bonus!), I was able to work in areas that I wanted to (marketing and product management), and I love Boston. To be honest, it couldn’t have worked out any better.
While I said that Robert De Niro and I have a lot in common, I am about half his age (that’s just a clarifier). Still though, while my fellow interns were (at most) 20 years old, it didn’t stop me from forming meaningful relationships with them and my with other coworkers. I became good friends with my fellow interns and coworkers, playing Checkers and Sorry at lunch every day (yes, HBX has board games), and grabbing dinner sometimes as well. I even played tennis once a week with a coworker (unless he bailed on me), and will stay in contact with a number of others. I felt welcomed from my very first day and I loved the atmosphere – it seemed far less stifling than I had imagined an office being. On top of that, everyone was willing to meet with me, introduce me to their specific fields, and help me understand what they do. Because of this, I was able to gain insight into the different facets of HBX and how they all work together, which I consider one of the greatest things I gained from my internship.
Another thing I loved about my time at HBX was that I felt like I was given meaningful projects that actually made a difference. Over the 2 ½ months I was there, I worked on changing the messaging of email workflows, ran the Instagram account, and helped design and carry out a variety of projects. I was also given a range of types of tasks: from more data-heavy to research-heavy to creative-heavy projects. I learned how to use Excel better, conduct market research, and craft messages. The unique part about all of these projects is that I had a say in them; it wasn’t just my colleagues giving me tasks that they themselves didn’t want to do. I felt like I added real value, and that was something I was not expecting from a summer internship.
On top of being given meaningful projects, I had access to CORe and Disruptive Strategy with Clayton Christensen for free. I was allowed to work through Disruptive Strategy at work and have been doing CORe at home in my free time. I feel like these have given me a better foundation of “the language of business” that most certainly are beneficial as I begin my MBA.
And then there was being in Boston. Who doesn’t love Boston? Having spent time here before, I knew that I wanted to get back if I could. While here, I went whale watching, took a trip to Maine, went to a Red Sox game, and ate some of the best food in the country. I had an opportunity to sit down with the Creative Director of HBX, speak with the videographers and photographers for HBX, and explore what a career in creative might look like. My time in Boston has not only provided me the work experience I was looking for but also opened doors to other exciting opportunities.
All in all it was the perfect summer – a meaningful internship at a world-class institution with incredible staff in my favorite city.
About the Author
Chris Larson was an intern at HBX for summer 2016 who worked with the marketing and product management teams. His background is in all things Russian, but he is interested in business and just started his MBA at Oxford University.