I am not sure how my internship in Los Angeles would have gone had it not been for the presence of some really great HBS classmates. They provided company and comfort when I needed it the most (not to mention a plethora of great Facebook photos).Employers often focus on making sure that MBAs within the same company are connected with each other. As mentioned in my last post, this is extremely important for creating a memorable experience as fellow interns can make the entire internship richer on several levels. At the same time, some of the most impactful summer experiences are with people who come from your school but don’t work at your company. My friends from HBS have really made me step back and carefully consider the special parts of LA and my overall internship. By comparing and contrasting our summer experiences, we have also found ways to support each other and make the most of our out-of-work time.
I think relationships with HBS classmates are particularly rewarding for several reasons. First, we have known each other (in many cases) for almost an entire year. This degree of familiarity breeds a natural trust and understanding that’s hard to find elsewhere. Second, we are also going through the same adjustments in being somewhere new and unfamiliar; therefore, we can (usually) pretty easily empathize with each other’s struggles. Third, since these classmates are generally not in the same firm, they can provide perspectives and opinions that might otherwise be subject to group-think or not even discussed at all.
Having a seemingly unbiased or “fresh” voice is great when you need advice or counsel on a pressing issue… Or when you want to reference that HBS case, which you believe to be 100% applicable in the situation you are thinking about in the moment (perhaps every HBS intern had that moment this summer).
I sometimes wonder what employers can do to facilitate more of these interactions, especially since they may not feel like they can do much. Practically speaking, there might not actually be much they can do but encouraging interactions in an informal way can help (It can be as simple as a reporting manager encouraging an intern to meet with other classmates over lunch). Regardless, the sooner an intern is truly comfortable at work, the likelier they will be their “best” selves. .. And those are probably the optimal conditions under which to find out if an intern is really a great fit for your firm.- Nick Singh, MBA 2014