My Summer Internship and the Power of Networking

Way back during orientation (I can’t believe that was eight months ago), one of the instructors asked us to raise our hands if we don’t like networking. I raised my hand pretty high, and so did about half my classmates. When we were asked why we don’t like networking, the general consensus was that it feels forced and awkward. The instructor didn’t disagree, but he went on to explain the usefulness and necessity of networking. I knew he was right at the time, but my summer internship search proved his point further.

I want to work in healthcare after I graduate from McCombs, and consulting appealed to me because healthcare reform is creating a ton of opportunities in the field. Plus, I felt like consulting would be a great way for me to learn more about the industry and work on a variety of interesting projects. However, with a few exceptions, the big consulting firms that recruit heavily at McCombs want you to be a generalist during your summer internship and first year or two after business school. Only later would you start specializing in an industry such as healthcare. The firms have good reasons for this, but as someone wanting to specialize in healthcare right off the bat, the generalist model didn’t appeal to me.

So, I was thrilled when a classmate referred me to an internship posting on one of the McCombs job boards for a relatively small firm called ECG Management Consultants that specializes exclusively in healthcare. Wanting to learn more about the company, I visited the website and combed through the consultants’ bios to see if there were any McCombs MBAs. There were none, but there were two graduates of my undergrad alma mater, Notre Dame, which, like McCombs, has a very strong network.

I contacted the two Notre Dame grads seeking an informational interview over the phone, and the first graciously took the time to answer my questions about the company. The second also agreed to talk to me over the phone, and she asked to see my resume beforehand. I called her merely expecting to learn more about the company, but at the end of the call she suggested that they might bring me to ECG’s Washington, D.C., office for an actual internship interview. They did, and apparently they liked me, because I’ll be interning with ECG in the nation’s capital this summer. I’m really excited about it.

The moral of my story is this: Even if you’re somewhat shy and introverted like me, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone with whom you share a connection, whether it’s the same alma mater, the same hometown or the same hobby. You never know what your network might do for you.

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