Fortunately for my stress level, I came into HBS with two parts of my career vision crystallized already: a role in the retail & consumer products realm, and something that would allow me to see a project beyond the recommendation phase. I had spent the last nearly 4 years working in strategy consulting, and while I learned a ton, I wanted to see some execution. Thus, I knew I needed to work in industry rather than any sort of services firm, and I soon decided that I wanted to see what a large corporate environment would be like.
As far as function, I was less clear. Some days I thought marketing would be fun, while other days I wanted to stay closer to my strategy background. I knew I wanted some blend of strategic thinking and quantitative analysis. As a result, I opted to apply to a variety of roles at large retailers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, primarily through on-campus recruiting.
After going through the joy that is HBS Dedicated Interview Period for 1st year students, where over 100 organizations interview students over a three day period in Boston, I ended up with the choice between a finance & strategy role at Walmart and a brand management role at a CPG company. While both options fit my checklist, the final interview at Walmart Home Office in Arkansas really made the decision clear for me. The employees really seemed to value the MBA interns (not a given in retail!), all the way up to the CFO- who we met and who emailed each of us afterwards. I felt comfortable with the culture as far as I could tell, and I could actually picture myself there. Although most of my peers look at me with a mix of pity and confusion when I tell them I’m living in an extended stay hotel in Arkansas for the summer, I am genuinely looking forward to it! Additionally, I recently learned that my assignment is in Merchandise Finance & Strategy, specifically for the Softlines part of the business (i.e., apparel and footwear). I’m thrilled that they listened to my request to be closer to the day to day operations of the business rather than working on a higher level strategy project.- Stephanie Tupi, MBA 2015