The Less Traditional MBA Internship
Krista Sande-Kerback '14
Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 1:15pm

In addition to pursuing traditional summer internships, I’ve been interested to see a number of business school classmates also participate in pre-MBA internships, school-year internships, or external projects with a wide range of organizations. Professional clubs on campus play a role, emailing their listservs about opportunities from alumni, and organizing company visits and campus events with speakers; some clubs such as the Media Management Association even designate a position on their board to help students find matches for spring internships.  Students also obtain opportunities through Columbia’s employment database, off-campus networking events, career websites such as LinkedIn, and – to plug my former employer – professional women’s network 85 Broads. One of my mentors recently put together a good list of options. For me, the opportunity to pursue this kind of experience has been a major advantage of attending graduate school in New York; given all of the organizations based here and that I am a career switcher. 

As someone interested in the media industry, I decided to pursue a spring internship with Time Warner Cable to learn more about this career path.  I serendipitously found my internship through the Cable Mavericks Masters Forum, a one-day conference about the cable industry for students interested in entering the industry.  After the main conference events, participants were given the chance to brush up on our “elevator pitches” through a mock interview workshop.  I sat down for my interview with an HR manager from Time Warner Cable, and our conversation quickly turned into a serious employment conversation – the Vice President of Local Programming and New Media was working on a very interesting project and could use assistance, while I happened to have a background that would allow me to contribute in a meaningful way.  Time Warner Cable worked with me to design the internship as a semester-long independent study, which enabled me to have a faculty advisor to brainstorm with, as well as manage it alongside rigorous academic and extracurricular commitments.

The internship itself was a fascinating experience.  Over the past several months, I examined the Local Programming Group’s new media (website, mobile, social media, video, etc.) strategy through interviews with key stakeholders and research on the competitive landscape and industry trends.  In March, the project took a bit of a twist when Time Warner Cable publicly announced a major rebranding of its local news entities.  This has been met with some resistance by the blogosphere, but is an opportunity for these entities in the sense that it will allow (and force) them to think strategically about their new identity and how to further engage their customers.  When I started this entry, I was preparing my final presentation for a meeting with members of the Local Programming Group, with plans to send it to Glenn Britt, the CEO of Time Warner Cable, thereafter.  He actually came to speak on campus for the Media Management Association a few weeks ago, and I enjoyed meeting him and gaining his insights about some of the company’s strategic decisions.

As a career switcher, my experience as a spring intern with Time Warner Cable proved valuable in teaching me more about the media industry and making my candidacy more competitive for summer opportunities.  Plus, I got to work in their office within the colorful retail and restaurant venue Chelsea Market…not too shabby!

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