Before HBS, I worked at Accenture in their strategy consulting practice focused on a mixture of non-profit and government clients. I really enjoyed my time at Accenture, but I decided to go to business school because I wanted to work for a mission-driven organization doing a mixture of strategy and execution work.
I still haven’t determined exactly what I’m doing after HBS, but I have decided to not return to consulting (despite having a sponsorship offer!) and to optimize for location and industry instead of role and financial compensation. I’m currently focusing my search on organizations in food, waste management, or education. I believe there is a large opportunity to have an impact on a big social problem in each of these industries.
Over the summer I worked at an organization called Revolution Foods (RF). They are a venture-backed social enterprise committed to changing the way kids in America eat by creating healthier school meals. Currently, they serve over 1M school meals a week. They are one of the few organizations that exists that is working at scale to provide better quality, cheap food (each meal costs less than $2.65 – the amount the Federal government will pay to reimburse a school for a lunch) to a primarily low-income population.
I had already built a relationship with the hiring manager at RF pre-HBS, so I didn’t have to go through CPD or use the alumni network to make an initial connection. However, the Harvard brand definitely helped me convince the senior leadership team to hire me. In addition, an EC that I met through the HBS Social Enterprise Club put me in touch with RF’s brand director. My conversation with him gave me a much better understanding of the problems RF was confronting in December of my RC year, and helped me craft a strong pitch on how I could add value for the summer.
Over the summer I worked in CPG marketing on a new retail product that RF had recently launched. The product, called Jet Packs, is a no-artificial-anything alternative to Lunchables. It gives parents a healthier option to feed their kids at school or on the go. My project was to work with the marketing team to define how to execute a grassroots marketing strategy for Jet Packs (i.e., where, how, and when should RF sample its Jet Packs to drive trial).
I gained three main takeaways from my summer internship. First, I realized that I don’t love all aspects of execution – building models is more fun for me than going through a checklist to ensure that I remembered the coupons, the table cloth, the extra ice, the five sets of gloves, and all the other items required to participate at a grassroots event. A job that was 100% execution would probably frustrate me and not let me tap into the strategic/analytical side of my mind. Second, I discovered that my co-workers have a big impact on my happiness and sense of fulfillment from my job. I loved being able to connect with the team about our shared passion for expanding access to affordable, healthy food. Finally, I learned that I really enjoy interacting with customers and being able to see the impact of my work on tangible sales.
As a result of this summer, I have focused not just on roles in strategy but also on roles which are customer-facing and which contain some elements of sales and marketing. I love the idea of being able to see the results of my work having a direct impact on both the top and bottom line. My ideal position is ~30% sales with the rest of my time focused on developing and refining a long-term strategy.
If I could give advice to someone applying to HBS or wanting to start an MBA, I would say you should determine why you are coming to business school. If it is to switch careers like me, I would develop a few hypotheses as to what you think you want in a job after business school, and I would use the summer to test one or more of those hypotheses.