In the third installment of our spotlight series, we highlight a grad who has already moved from her entry-level position to the career she hopes to have for years to come. She’s already made the mistakes and is now telling you what she looks for when SHE hires interns!
Name, major, and hometown:
Michelle Katz, Master in Business Administration (’12); BSBA Management & Entrepreneurship (’11); Fort Lauderdale, FL
What is your job/internship and why do you think it’s cool?
Health Marketing & Strategy Consultant. I get to incorporate my formal business education, marketing background, acuity for consumerism and passion for health & fitness into my daily work.
Describe your duties, where you work, who you work with, etc. Give us a “picture” of what you are doing.
I manage projects for our clients in the life sciences industry — projects range from identifying new ingredients to improve the effectiveness of (or development of new) nutraceuticals, foods and consumer products, to helping identify and vet businesses for acquisition, to developing and expediting medical marketing programs for some of the world’s largest multinational corporations -— needless to say, there’s never a minute that goes by where I’m not learning something new.
Our offices are in Research Park in Orlando, FL; we’re the smallest of the SPRIM offices as there are 7-9 full time with half a dozen project based consultants on board with our team … however globally, SPRIM has 20 offices in 15 countries and US is the newest market for us. My colleagues are a combination of MBAs & PhDs with killer personalities and experience — they’re also great happy hour buddies so I can’t complain about that either.
How did you find your job/internship?
LinkedIn – my boss stalked me — it’s a running office joke but it’s true. He liked my background (business/accounting/CRM/marketing/poker dealer) and I couldn’t turn down the offer to be part of something so great.
Did you make any mistakes in your search (or things you thought were a mistake) and how did you recover?
Absolutely – although there aren’t many (or any) “recovery” portions, let’s make a list of things I did wrong in my job search:
1) From the start – I wish more than anything I pursued a legitimate internship in a field that would have better positioned me for what I wanted to do in the future. The internship I worked in while an MBA candidate had potential but since it didn’t appeal to my interests, I slacked, got paid well for doing nothing, then graduated with nothing that I considered personally valuable to add to my resume;
2) Not starting the job search earlier or going to job fairs;
3) Not being relentless in contacting the positions I truly wanted (Now that I’m on the on the other end actually doing the interviewing — I now know the power of picking up the phone and following up with emails);
4) Thinking I didn’t want to be in “sales” – no matter what, you’re always in sales – -doesn’t matter what your business card says;
5) Thinking I could “manage” anything right out of school, and applying for managerial positions – learned that lesson the hard way;
6) Not tailoring my resume to specific positions because I was lazy;
7) Not including my cover letter in the actual email versus a separate attachment;
8) Being too afraid to pursue positions outside of my geographical comfort zone (FL).
Was this something you ever thought you’d do (why/why not). If so, how long did you know you wanted to do this?
It wasn’t until my final years in undergrad when I realized my attention span was too short to be an “entrepreneur”.. Grad school was when I really started to believe I’d be great as a consultant, but I didn’t think I’d have the option because I didn’t start applying for the big firms (Deloitte, PWC, Accenture) early enough and was turned off by the “ladder climbing” method of getting ahead. I wanted to find something that connected business with health & nutrition — but let’s just say my science gene is somewhere hanging out with my attention span — so I didn’t think it was in the cards for me. I got very lucky to land here.
How does this opportunity fit into your long term career goals?
Hopefully really well… I want to play a catalytic role in the position of global health (which apparently can’t be done in 2-5 years) — this company will get me there.
What have you learned about yourself in this role?
I used to think I procrastinated on things that I didn’t want to do— but I learned that I procrastinate on doing things that I’m not sure I’ll do well or that I have the potential to fail at. I don’t SUCK at science – I’m just new to it … everything takes time to learn and it’s okay to be a novice.
What skills, tools, etc. have you had to learn in this role?
1) Taking the time to train — my nature is to revert to doing things myself because it takes less time;
2) Emotional IQ — that’s just gone through the roof – I work with people on each corner of the world, all of which communicate differently – that’s tricky;
3) PowerPoint – When I was in school I never thought I’d have to put a PPT deck together past graduation — I couldn’t have been more wrong.
What keeps you going back every day?
The fact that I know I am making an impact and get to see my work on the store shelves every day is incredible.
What challenges do you face?
Time management – It’s so easy to get caught up in work and forget that you’re supposed to work to live, not the other way around. Culture differences (especially working with people that are older/more experienced than you) — that’s a constant challenge.
Did you get any advice while you were in school that helped? From whom?
My Career Connections officer told me to stop crying and start doing – so I started doing and here I am.
What advice would you give a student just coming into the college regarding making the next two years productive and resulting in success?
Get a real internship (even if –dare I say- unpaid) . Get a mentor. Your GPA does matter – if employers see you can’t even keep up with the workload of school (which really isn’t anything compared to FT job) — you’re SOL. Take part in extra-curricular activities. Network. Tailgate – just because you’re young and deserve to have some fun its college.
What job search tips would you pass along to other students?
The opposite of all responses to the question “did you make any mistakes in your search”.
Research job descriptions and think of what you’d really like to do long term. Start searching early – and don’t be afraid to make yourself seen known to a potential company even if you’re not ready to enter the job market – employers love those that are progressive in their efforts. And put your work on LinkedIn — projects, reports, presentations — that stuff is IMPRESSIVE; also update your picture (no selfies it’s not FB) and make your profile legit — use a thesaurus if you have to.
By the way, Michelle is actively looking for awesome interns. Are you awesome? Did you read this far? Think you can find her the way her boss did…?