Born in Monterey, Felipe Delgado (MBA 2018), knows Mexico well. With three years of pre-MBA banking experience, and a stint with a renewable energy startup, Felipe has a firm grip on the “corporate side” as well.

But retail products? And the intricacies of a consumer-facing business? These were unknown terrains that appealed to Felipe.

“I discovered that I didn’t want a traditional corporate life,” he says. “I wanted a greater sense of ownership, the ability to see my impact on a business from beginning to end.” When Felipe started to explore his summer internship options, he recognized that one of the “privileges of being at HBS was the opportunity to try something different.”

With “something different” in mind, Felipe pursued his internship search patiently, keeping an open mind toward smaller companies. “I wanted to be in business development and strategy,” he says, and he was willing to consider a variety of sectors in a wide range of locations. After weeks of reviewing internships posted in Career Hub, Felipe found his big break through a friend who had graduated from HBS five years earlier.

“He had an amazing career path,” says Felipe. “After just five years with 3G Capital, he reported directly to the CEO.” More importantly, he got the exclusive rights to one of 3G’s investments: ownership of the Tim Hortons chain in Mexico. With the capital raised, the plan was “to build aggressively” in an alien environment – there had never been a Tim Hortons in Mexico before – through the efforts of a tiny team that began with three people and had grown to just eleven.

“I thought it was the ideal place to go,” Felipe says. “The uncertainty makes it more interesting. How do you take a product aimed at a Canadian market and adapt it to a different market?” Felipe collaborated with his friend to define his role and establish an objective for his summer, ten-week term. In addition to participating in the overall marketing plan for the Mexican Tim Hortons, Felipe is responsible for creating a practical, repeatable strategy for opening stores quickly.

“I have to develop a process they can replicate, from site prospecting to store opening,” says Felipe. “It’s the first time I’ve had to dig into what it takes to construct a store – way harder than it looks. When you’re opening just one or two stores, you can figure it out as you go. But at our scale, you need a process: who’s in charge of what?”

Their marketing strategy pitches Tim Hortons in the middle, offering white collar and upper class professionals a superior alternative to convenience store coffee. Unlike many convenience store coffee shops, Tim Hortons will offer fresh food options made and served in-store.

After just two weeks on-site, Felipe already appreciates the depth of his internship experience. “I enjoy being in a small firm where I’m involved in everything,” he says. “I’m part of the ‘sensory’ group that tastes foods, helping us arrive at the right trade-off of price and taste.”

Regarding the search experience itself, Felipe believes the process imposes mutual obligations on seekers and recruiters. “It is important for both students and companies to understand that this process is a two-way-street, where each party needs to determine if they are right for each other, and doing so requires asking the right questions.”

It’s still too soon for Felipe to determine whether or not Tim Hortons is the right fit for him after completing his MBA. Regardless, his internship holds intrinsic merit as a fresh experience that adds new dimensions to his business knowledge and the direction in which he wishes to take his career. “I’ve been in the U.S. for eight years now,” he says. “I’m ready to come back and make an impact in Mexico. It’s my time to come back.”