A summer in the life of MBA students

Graduate business school isn’t easy by any means. MBA students write, work, research, and write some more. And then to top it all off, they are required to spend their precious summer breaks as interns.

Yes, it sounds treacherous, but students usually agree that their summer sacrifices are worth it.

To get the inside scoop on the life of an MBA-in-training, we’ve rounded up MBA students from BYU to find out about their internship hardships, friendships, and championships.


Dain Berrett, a second-year MBA student from Sterling, Virginia, leaped at the opportunity to work in Seattle as a senior product manager intern at Amazon. As a member of the Amazon Marketplace Seller Services team—which supports third-party sellers—Berrett is working on a high-tech, “so cool” software product that will improve how Amazon assists sellers in finding answers and growing their businesses.

Q: What helped you get the internship?

A: I’m confident my previous experience as a product manager (PM) helped a lot. I worked for four years as a PM at the SirsiDynix, a library technology company in Provo. I had great managers who valued continual improvement and iterative product design. As far as coursework, BYU’s professors are top notch and gave me a strong foundation.

Q: Hardest part about your internship?

A: Amazon is full of really smart and capable people. That’s one of my favorite things about it, but it also means you can’t fake anything. Your weaknesses will be quickly discovered. I thought I was a great writer, but I quickly realized that I was getting too bogged down in details and not driving toward the big picture. I wasn’t writing fast enough. It hurt a bit to realize that, but I’m glad I did. I’m a much better writer and thinker now because of it.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I’d love to come back here and work at Amazon as a product manager, and continue to help my wife’s online floral design business on the side. If that doesn’t happen, I will probably become a circus performer. Honestly, I haven’t allowed myself to think that far ahead yet. I live on the edge!

skylarSandy, Utah native Skylar de Jong, also a second-year MBA student, is interning as a management consultant for PwC. The company is going through a major operations change and his team is focusing on helping employees adopt the new system. He teaches employees how to train their subordinates, updates training presentations, and makes sure all training material meets the highest of standards. Although he’s based in Washington, DC, de Jong ventures to Manhattan four days a week to work with a client.

Q: Why did you want to work at PwC?

A: Consulting is an industry where you are continually facing new and interesting problems, working with new people and companies, and acting as a counselor and confidant to high-level executives. Who wouldn’t want that?

Q: Hardest part about your internship?

A: The actual hardest thing is being away from my wife and kids for the summer. I’m kind of, like, really in love with my wife and I love seeing her. I am happy to sacrifice time with my family in the short term to take care of them in the long term, but I miss them like crazy!

Q: Most enjoyable part about your internship?

A: The relationships I have built with my team as well as the other interns. They are so kind and down to earth, yet brilliant. Additionally, I have liked the travel. It is a fun perk to see my rewards points and miles grow quickly.

BYU MBA Shoot #2Second-year MBA student Amy Hancock, from San Jose, California, is interning at Pelion Venture Partners in Salt Lake City. Her list of responsibilities is steep, and includes researching companies and industries, completing due diligence on potential investments, and creating term sheets and cap tables. She also attends board meetings, listens to investment pitches, meets entrepreneurs, and attends startup and networking events.

Q: Why did you want to work for Pelion?

A: Pelion provides interns with a unique opportunity to see how venture capital works—more so than an average firm. They really aim to include interns in every part of the business and give us valuable insight and experience.

Q: Most enjoyable part about your internship?

A: The people. The firm is incredible and everyone works together as a team. There isn’t the traditional hierarchy you would expect from a top firm. There are also fun events and trips!

Q: What did you learn from your internship?

A: The importance of having integrity, and making networking a priority. A large part of Pelion’s success is due to their reputation. It creates clean agreements and avoids anything that would take advantage of the potential investment. Another important piece I learned is to make relationships a priority and take time to show genuine interest in others.

thiago yThiago Yahn hails from the city of Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. Yahn will start his second year in the MBA program this fall and is currently interning at Genentech (GNE) in San Francisco. GNE—a company that develops medicines to treat diseases like Asthma and Alzheimer’s—has Yahn working on developing a strategy to improve engagement among stakeholders and increase partnership among vendors.

Q: What helped you get your internship?

A: I worked for five years in my home country, Brazil, in hospitals and retail pharmacies. My previous work experience has surely made a difference in the recruiting process. The MBA program also has great resources that helped me prepare for recruiting such as personal orientation, mock interviews, resume reviews and opportunities for networking.

Q: Hardest part about your internship?

A: The initial two weeks were really tough because I wanted to hit the ground running, but didn’t really know the company and how it worked internally. I had to invest a lot of time talking to people and reading through the corporate website to learn about the organization.

Q: What have you learned from your internship?

A: I have learned a lot about leadership style. I have seen great leaders in the company that are a tremendous example to be followed. These leaders are committed not only to the company’s mission but also to help individuals grow.