Carnegie Mellon University

Integrated Innovation Institute

Engineering + Design + Business

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four photo frames show four different students at their internships

September 29, 2022

iii Students Put Skills to the Test in Summer Internships

Explore internship stories from students in the MIIPS, MSSM, and MSTV programs from a variety of industries.

By Jess Ignasky

This summer, students in the Integrated Innovation Institute participated in internships across multiple industries including manufacturing, transportation, consumer products, and more. Across those industries, students worked in a variety of companies including large tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce, venture capital firms like Good Growth Capital, and retail spaces like PetSmart and Dick's Sporting Goods.

MIIPS, MSSM, and MSTV students brought forth skills learned in their classes, adapting to change, working with multiple different stakeholders, and demonstrating leadership on projects. Students led projects that were rolled out to billions of users, developing innovative products presented to VPs, and solving problems between departments to ensure a smooth product roll out. 

Explore each student's internship story by clicking on the dropdown link to read more about what they experienced this summer.

Explore internships by professional interest:

Product Management

Pranathi Alla (MSSM ‘22) 

Product Management Intern,

Mohammed Azhar (MSSM ‘22)

Product Management Intern,
Pure Storage

Jonathan Gelfman (MSSM '22)

Product Management Intern,

Nini Hong (MIIPS '22) 

Product Management Intern,

Abhishek Iyer (MSSM ‘22)
Product Management Intern,

Ambar Kakkar (MIIPS '22)

Product Management Intern,
Parfums Christian Dior

Sukarma Parimoo (MSSM ‘22)

Product Management Intern,

Trishala Pillai (MIIPS '22)

Product Management Intern,
Dick’s Sporting Goods

This summer, I worked at Salesforce as a Product Management intern.

I had to move for my internship and it was a whirlwind! I had to quickly figure out how to live minimalistically because I could only take two suitcases of things on my flight. A few of my undergrad friends also ended up moving to Bellevue, Washington for their internships so this summer we all caught up with each other and lived together. It was a wonderful experience and the Washington summer was absolutely beautiful.

student pranathi alla stands on a rooftop on a summer evening. behind her, the sky is bright orange and red with the setting sun.

(Pranathi takes in the beautiful Bellevue, Washington sunset at a Salesforce event)

One of the best things about my company was that they gave us full autonomy to complete the work at our pace and seek help where needed. Right off the bat, I set a schedule for myself on the goals I needed to achieve throughout the internship and broke that down into a weekly schedule. A typical day would consist of meetings with stakeholders with blocked focus time to digest all of the new information I received to put my thoughts into a tangible output. 

My favorite part of the internship experience was all of the fun activities the team worked on together. It was a bonding experience and I met so many diverse people from different walks of life. The most challenging part was ramping up on security jargon. I remember sitting in a meeting on the first day and I was rapidly googling every acronym casually mentioned in the conversation that I had no prior idea on! 

student pranathi alla is hugging a large stuffed mascot from her internship company, Salesforce, in a lounge room at the company

(Pranathi gives the Salesforce mascot a big hug)

During my internship, I worked on a project on bringing visibility and remediation to external vulnerabilities. It was a communication-heavy project where a large chunk of the work was related to talking to stakeholders and gleaning information to take it forward.

I was humbled by the value in being a good communicator as a product manager and the details it takes to be one. 

My word of advice to students applying for an internship next year is to figure out what you want to learn from your internship. Is there a particular area you hope to explore hands-on?

Know what your goals are because internships are distracting with the amount of cool projects you can work on. Look for one that aligns with your goals!

Final thoughts: if my post-masters experience is a movie, to me, my internship felt like the trailer to that movie. Be intentional about using this experience to see the kind of product manager you want to be as well as the kind of person you want to be!

This summer, I worked at Pure Storage as a Product Management intern.

Pure Storage is headquartered in downtown Mountain View, not too far from CMU’s Silicon Valley campus! I did not have to move for my internship, but I enjoyed the fantastic Californian summer. In fact, the first thing that I pitched to the recruiter at Pure Storage was that I lived very close to their office and could walk in any time for an interview! 

student mohammed azhar poses with fellow Pure Storage interns in a group photograph

(Mohammed and other interns at Pure Storage pose for a photo)

My internship with Pure Storage was a great learning experience. My manager initially gave me a checklist of activities to complete in the first three weeks that included things like trainings, networking, and getting to learn more about the product line. Over the next few days, my manager briefed me about a project and expected deliverables. The best part about this experience was the autonomy that was given to me. Instead of being assigned tasks, I was given the authority to write down a list of things that had to be done to make the project successful.

The team would meet every Monday morning to discuss our progress before going off to talk to the stakeholders and drive our projects to success. This level of autonomy was not something that I was used to in my previous organization and hence, I found it a little challenging to adjust initially, but once I got the hang of it, I found this freedom of doing things my own way very liberating!

Just a month before the end of my internship, there were major changes to the product requirements for my project. I had already documented all of the product requirements and communicated them to the engineering and UX teams, however, this change threw a wrench in the works! I had to schedule follow-up meetings with the VP of Product and other business leaders, brainstorm on the product as well as business strategy, and agree on the final requirements. When I went back to the UX team, they were already busy with other projects, and I had to be scrappy to design lo-fi mockups myself and share them with the engineering and UX teams to explain the changes to the requirements.

As the engineering team had already scoped out the team and effort estimates for previous requirements, it was hard to convince them to incorporate the changes. By clearly dividing the requirements into different phases of development, I convinced engineering to proceed with the updated requirements. This was the biggest challenge that I faced and I am glad that I was able to resolve this before the end of my internship!

student mohammed azhar poses with fellow interns and CEO of Pure Storage, Charles Giancarlo

(Mohammed and fellow interns pose with CEO of Pure Storage, Charles 'Charlie' Giancarlo and John 'Coz' Colgrove)

Throughout this difficult time, my mentor was always by my side and helped me whenever required. Not only was he super helpful, but he was also very skillful, just like everyone else at Pure Storage. Meeting these fantastic people and learning from them was one of my favorite parts of the internship! Another event that I truly enjoyed was the intern lunch meeting with CEO Charles ‘Charlie’ Giancarlo and John ‘Coz’ Colgrove. I had an opportunity to ask them some questions and listen to their insights and it was very motivating!

Pure Storage had launched a new high-profile subscription product in the market just before I joined for my internship. I was tasked with putting this product on their e-commerce marketplace. This involved talking to business stakeholders and product leaders and transforming those discussions into technical requirements for engineering and UX requirements for design.

How many companies would task an intern with such a high-visibility project? And here I was, doing exactly that! I think that being a Tartan gave my mentor and manager the confidence that I could pull it off. After all, we Tartans are the best out there!

student mohammed azhar poses with fellow interns at a casino night event hosted for interns by their company, Pure Storage

(Mohammed and fellow Pure Storage interns enjoy a Casino Night event)

My advice to students applying for internships next year is: a mistake that many of us make, including myself, is to apply to as many jobs as possible. The biggest advice I’d give to my past self is to understand the job description and take advantage of my previous work experience.

Strategically pick and choose the jobs that align best with your past experience and interests, and then go ahead and work hard on the application. Network with recruiters and employees from that organization. Finally, take advantage of your location!

Final thoughts: I was surprised by the number of Tartans interning at Pure Storage. No wonder Pure Storage is doing so well! In fact, two of three product management interns that Pure Storage had for the summer were Tartans. Shout out to Satvik Kumar from MS(ISM)! Also, a huge shout out to the University Recruitment team at Pure Storage. They hosted many fun-filled intern events throughout the summer and made the entire experience very enjoyable.

This summer, I worked at Intapp as a Product Management intern in Finance. 

A typical day would normally start at 6:30 AM PT for scrum meetings. This was a tad early, but thankfully this meant I could finish quite early in the day too! I had a syllabus of initiatives to work on throughout my internship, but due to resource constraints and organizational process changes, I also volunteered to help with anything urgent that the other product managers on my team might need.

student jonathan gelfman poses with fellow Intapp intern

(Jonathan and fellow Intapp interns pose for a photo)

I was grateful I volunteered because I gained a lot of valuable experiences in doing so. I also created a few of my own initiatives to work on throughout the internship which I pursued after addressing assigned tasks. 

While being able to work remotely was a big highlight of my internship experience, my favorite part was the care of my fellow product managers and manager. While it felt like a few of my peers were only assigned rudimentary documentation work in other companies, my product managers made sure they would only give me tasks that would take me out of my comfort zone, help me learn from my experience, and tangibly help my team make a real impact they would benefit from in the future.

Being able to apply and even challenge the theories I learned in the MSSM curriculum in the real world was one of the main expectations I had for the internship, and thanks to my team this was possible and created an extremely rewarding experience. 

student jonathan gelfman poses wearing a branded t-shirt and sunglasses from his company, Intapp

(Jonathan shares his Intapp swag)

My favorite project I worked in during my internship involved grooming the backlog for three upcoming hotfix releases. As a task that requires in-depth knowledge of the product, organization, and any relevant stakeholders, I enjoyed being challenged to become familiar with Intapp’s backlog, reaching out to all relevant stakeholders, and grooming it through ample meetings with cross-functional teams such as CSAT, design, and engineering. It allowed me to learn about the realities of prioritization as well as how to best set up our product releases for success. 

Throughout my internship, I really appreciated how our Internship Program Manager created a set of talks and workshops that connected us to various people across the company.

Not only did we have an ‘external buddy’ system that helped us learn about job functionalities outside of our domain, but we also had these regular workshops where we met anyone between sales, previous interns, C-level executives, or engineers to learn more about other fields and become more familiar with the company and product lineup outside of our teams.

My biggest advice for other students applying to internships is not to put all your eggs in one basket, and to do your best to vary your job-seeking channels; seek alternative resources and means of finding opportunities by making the best of your social, professional, and alumni circles!

That way, you can find openings that might not even be currently available, would be a better fit for your experience or skills, or would allow your internship team to have greater bandwidth to help you learn from your experience!

This summer, I worked at PetSmart as a Product Management intern. 

I had to relocate for my internship from Pittsburgh to Phoenix Arizona, and boy was it hot! The warmest it got was 115° F (46° C). Arizona is absolutely beautiful when you can actually go outside. I was able to visit the Grand Canyon as well as the Red Rocks in Sedona. There were also a ton of ginormous cacti which were super cool to see! One fun fact I learned was that it actually monsoons in Arizona, and when it rains the rain is warm—which was a shocker for a Seattle native like me. 

student nini hong poses in front of large saguaro cactuses in Arizona

(Nini and the saguaro cacti in Arizona)

A typical day at my internship really depended on what I needed to get done. I had independent reign over the process I took and the work I did to meet my tasks, so every day was different. A lot of my time was spent doing competitive analysis with other retailers, working with UX to do stakeholder studies and review designs, writing requirements with business, and talking to a LOT of partner teams like business, development, store operations, merchandising, and store associates. I really liked that I got to learn from so many functions of the business.

I think as an aspiring PM, you often think you’ll work with design, engineering, and business, but there are sometimes so many other stakeholders depending on what industry you are in. 

The best part about working for a pet company is of course the pets! There was a dog park on site and an adoption center across the street so on my breaks I would go and enjoy the company of the animals. People also brought their dogs to the office and usually I’d remember the dogs’ names but not the owners’! 

The most challenging (but also one of my favorite parts) was keeping track off stakeholders and my conversations with them as I completed my work.

As a PM you have to really understand the implications of what you are doing and be able to draw people in from the correct areas of work. Even a small feature can be complicated in terms of who is involved and what else is effected. 

The project I worked on throughout my internship was focused on identifying omnichannel experiences for the PetSmart mobile app. For some context, omnichannel means to integrate the digital and in-person experiences of shopping to create a harmonious, consistent way for how we shop. One of my favorite recommendations for this project was looking at how we could improve the curbside pickup experience on the app. Taking a deep dive into how this could work showed me how something seemingly so simple on the customer end is actually kind of complicated to design and implement. There are also some really cool technology features that we as customers don’t really think about when we shop but are extremely powerful for digital retail. 

student nini hong is pictured in front of a beautiful landscape of a tall canyon filled with green brush in Arizona

(Nini enjoying the beautiful landscape of Arizona)

My advice for students applying for internships next year is to start applying early and to not get discouraged! You will likely get more rejections than anything else, and that’s okay. Trust that every one of you will end up with something by the time summer comes around! For those of you switching careers as I was, be sure to have a concise story for why, and be able to explain the transferable skills you have from your previous experience and how it applies to the role you’re going after. Feel free to flag me down of you’re curious to learn more about my internship, job searching, or anything MIIPS!

This summer, I worked at HP as a Product Management intern. 

I moved to Houston for my internship. It was lovely to experience a different part of the United States and I got to meet other interns from all over the country. The in-person internship was designed beautifully with ample opportunities to network and learn. 

student abhishek iyer is photographed on a staircase with his cohort of HP interns.

(Abhishek and fellow HP interns in the cohort join together for a photo)

In my initial two weeks of my internship, I learned mostly about the company and the products that my team worked on, essentially growing to understand how everything fit in the team. My calendar was booked with team meetings where everyone discussed the progress of each of their products and I was able to chip in and give feedback.

student abhishek iyer and fellow interns are standing in a group with HP leadership touring the headquarters

(Abhishek and fellow interns get a tour of HP's headquarters)

Once I got an idea of everything, I was comfortable enough to do some heavy lifting. I was assigned to and given ownership of a set of products that were on the roadmap for next year. From there on, my schedule included talking to the stakeholders, marketing team, business development managers, and working on building the product strategy for the set of products based on the insights I gained. My schedule mostly was locked in from the previous week, giving me an idea of what I ought to prioritize. 

My favorite part of my internship experience was getting the in-job exposure to all that I have been learning about product management at CMU and being entrusted with building a product from scratch.

This helped me work my creative and management muscles in the best possible way. The most challenging part of my internship was context switching, developing an ability to figure things out of ambiguity, and knowing what and how to prioritize. It was a learning curve but it was totally worth it!

student abhishek iyer stands with fellow interns around a dining table at an HP company event for a photograph

(Abhishek and fellow interns at an HP event)

I was able to present the set of products I worked on both to the leaders and at the in-person intern fair, both of which gave me great feedback! I loved exploring and figuring things out my own way, bringing my unique creative voice to how I visualized the project. It was like a crash course in product management and I am grateful to my manager for being a rockstar

My advice to students applying to an internship next year is to NOT apply to jobs everywhere and anywhere, no matter how tempting it is! I feel that I wasted a lot of energy mass-applying and not really spending my time figuring out the kind of job that would best suit me. Make a note of courses and things you find most fascinating and look for that in the job description of roles you are applying for. This way, you will also have context to talk about and ensure you are tailoring your resume accordingly.

This summer, I worked at Christian Dior as a Product Management intern in the Parfums E-Commerce department.

I had to relocate to New York City for my internship this summer. Finding an apartment in NYC is challenging, so it took me some time to find a place. Luckily, I found one toward the beginning of the summer. The neighborhood was really nice and living in NYC is always exciting.

student ambar kakkar stands in front of the Christian Dior logo at his internship

(Ambar poses in front of Dior's logo at the office)

My team during my internship was extremely friendly and adapted my internship to my interests. I focused a lot on customer experience and service design, something I love to do. I got to work extensively on a loyalty program and launched an innovation initiative which was extremely exciting! Overall, I had a lot of fun, especially since Dior is moving more towards an innovation mindset.

My favorite part of my internship experience was having the opportunity to create service design blueprints and new products and services. My team gave me the opportunity to showcase deliverables to senior management, which made my work feel valued. Additionally, the team culture was open and friendly and I looked forward to coming into work. 


(The famous Christian Dior quote is prominently placed on the wall)

On the other hand, the most challenging part of my internship experience was understanding more about the retail space. Previously, I had only worked in consulting and had more knowledge about solving business problems rather than the ins and outs of business.

My favorite project I worked on this summer was creating a loyalty program recently launched by Parfums Christian Dior. It is an exciting new initiative that holds tremendous business and customer value. I was given the opportunity to work on improving the customer experience for the program. I designed customer journeys, service blueprints, and new products and services. My colleagues provided me with guidance and strategic direction and I was able to reach an output that was well-received. 

Overall, one thing that was consistent through all the projects I worked on was that everyone had an open mind to new ideas and wanted to find solutions to the problem together as a team. I loved the amount of autonomy that I was given to work on projects as it really allowed me to showcase the output in creative ways. 

My advice to students applying for internships next year is to start early! I started applying for internships early on and that helped me feel reassured as I was not missing out on any potential opportunities. Secondly, be focused on your area of interest. There are so many potential companies that you can apply to, but try and stay focused on what you are interested in. This doesn't’t mean you only apply to five companies, though! Minimize your ‘risk’ by applying to many! Lastly, don’t stress.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed while you’re waiting to get an internship or if people around you are getting internships early on. Your time will come. Just do your best and chill. Life will work out! 

As a final note, I want to add that I had an amazing experience thanks to Kristin Knapp, VP of Digital, Diana Pan, North America CRM Lead, Josh Zavadil, Senior Manager for E-Commerce Tech, Yvonne Campbell, Director for E-Commerce Tech, Allyson Burgess, Lead for Communications, and Sophie Dietz, who did almost everything! Without their guidance and help, my internship would have been very different. I am grateful to have worked with them!

This summer, I worked at TuSimple as a Product Management intern.

My internship was remote, but I did visit TuSimple’s Autonomous Driving Testing site in Tucson, AZ and their headquarters in San Diego, CA. 

student sukarma parimoo stands in front of an autonomous truck at the TuSimple headquarters in Arizona

(Sukarma poses with an autonomous truck at the TuSimple headquarters)

During my internship, I worked on two map projects, and my day involved meeting with my users, designers, and developers. I would also work on a lot of documentation, creating reports, PRDs, and user stories. There was a weekly team meeting where I would present my accomplishments from the current week and my plans for the next week. 

My favorite part of the internship was riding in the autonomous trucks in Tucson. It was exciting to learn and work on futuristic technology!

The most challenging part was building a connection with my team remotely. Though I traveled and met my team, I would have loved more team interaction throughout the internship.

My favorite project I worked on during my internship was to create a data visualization dashboard for the Maps Operation team. It was my first project where I interacted with different teams to conceptualize the product.

I learned that a product manager needs to be empathetic to all the stakeholders be it users, designers, or developers, to understand their pain points.

My advice to students applying for internships next year is to understand what your interests are and where you will fit in the best. Three months is very little time to create an impact in the company, so instead of focusing only on work and delivering results, take time to build connections with your team members, especially if you are remote!

This summer, I worked at Dick's Sporting Goods as a Product Management intern in the Innovation department.

Though Dick’s Sporting Goods (DSG) is headquartered in Coraopolis (west of Pittsburgh), its technology team is fully remote and distributed across the country. The team operates with a remote-first mindset. In fact, company-wide, Mondays and Fridays are remote work days. I spent my first week and last two weeks at the headquarters (a stunning 670,000 sq ft campus with tennis courts, trails, and gyms, among other facilities).

student trishala pillai is photographed with fellow interns from Dick's Sporting Goods on the deck of a boat on the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh

(Dick's Sporting Goods Summer 2022 cohort of interns on the Gateway Clipper)

I decided to try remote work for most of the summer and moved to Bellevue in Washington for the summer to work from there. The remote experience worked well for me. There were so many opportunities throughout the week to connect with peers over projects and socially, making it easier to build relationships. At the same time, I had the ability to optimize my work day in a way that suited me.

By the time I was back on the DSG campus, I felt a strong connection with my peers. The thing I appreciated the most was how committed DSG is to the process of trying to do and be better in every sense (true to the athlete’s mindset!). The communication channels were always open for feedback or support.

Every day at my internship was different and spontaneous. There was a healthy balance of seminar-style training, executive engagements with senior leaders across all functions/levels of the organization, team-building/social activities, and of course project-related tasks, stand-ups, and meetings.

student trishala pillai and fellow interns take a photograph in front of a vast green landscape. the sky is a tinted blue color and the sun is setting behind them

(Trishala and fellow interns take a photograph on the Dick's Sporting Goods campus)

This balance of activities and tasks helped me advance progress toward my intern project goals while providing me with opportunities to get to know the culture, people, functions, challenges, opportunities and mission of DSG better. As far as work was concerned, something I valued deeply about my internship experience was that I was never ‘assigned’ daily tasks. My team and lead exhibited a high level of trust in me. I had the autonomy to decide how and when my work should get done throughout my internship, while still having the team’s support and guidance.

There is so much I loved about working at DSG! The culture is unlike anything I’ve experienced before; civic-minded, honest, balanced, and high-trust. The people live the mission.

Though DSG is a retail company, through the sale of its products/services and the use of company resources, they drive positive (and frankly inspiring) outcomes for the athletes and communities they serve.

I grew up in cultures that don’t share the strong sporting culture we experience here in America. I also grew up with no particular affinity for sports. While retail and technology excite me, I didn’t know what to expect about the domain that DSG operates within.

My favorite part of the internship experience was having the experience flip my expectations and preconceived notions on their head. I learnt so much about the importance of sports and an athlete’s mindset.

I also learned so much about the DSG origin story, which proved to be a story of resilience, community, and entrepreneurship that resonated with me on a personal level. On the flip side, the most challenging part of the internship experience was trying to learn and do as much as possible in just 11 weeks! Time really does fly by.

An autographed copy of "It's How We Play the Game" from Ed Stack, Chairman and CEO of Dick's Sporting Goods

(An autographed copy of It's How We Play the Game from Ed Stack, Chairman and CEO of Dick's Sporting Goods)

I worked on the innovation team at DSG, which is a team tasked with proving out the latest technologies that can drive sports and retail innovation. It is a small but mighty, interdisciplinary, and ambitious team. Essentially, the team works in the future, on products and services that could be rolled out in a two to five year timeframe. Projects are centered on maximizing learning, identifying, understanding, and validating new opportunities (which once validated through a series of pilots is transitioned to other functions to own), and lastly, on failing fast.

I had the privilege of leading a high-visibility pilot project tied to a high-priority strategic imperative outlined by leadership. While I can’t share too many details about the project, it was a pleasure to work with a range of stakeholders spanning leaders in various corporate functions, teammates in stores, professional athletes, youth athletes, their parents, and coaches. It was equally exciting to share my work and engage in a fruitful dialogue with the Chief Technology Officer and senior leaders at DSG on the project outcomes, challenges, and next steps.

While I’ve worked in retail technology and innovation in the past, I’ve always done so working at technology companies. At DSG, I learned how a retail company approaches technology. Some stark similarities and differences stood out to me. This lead to an immense amount of learning.

My advice to students applying to internships next year is this: it is easy to feel consumed (and frankly, overwhelmed), by the sheer noise that surrounds you when students across the campus (and beyond) are applying to summer internships. There is no denying that it is competitive. I would strongly encourage students to stay open to feedback and guidance from advisors and peers they view as trusted, but mute the noise when they need to.

Take the time to deeply reflect on what you’re looking to give and receive from your internship. Target companies and roles that help you achieve that and assess companies through the lens in your interview process. Having an enjoyable internship experience starts with a mutual fit that serves the interests of both the intern and the company.

Make a choice that feels true to your skills, areas you’re looking to grow, and your interests, as opposed to a choice that is influenced by others. While you’re searching for your internship, there will be several peaks and troughs but trust the process and yourself!

Innovation & Design

Jeni Huang (MIIPS '22)

UX Design Intern,

Manas Mahaddalkar (MIIPS '22)

Front End Innovation Intern,
Milwuakee Tool

This summer, I worked at Microsoft as a UX Design intern.

I had to relocate for my internship from Pittsburgh to the Greater Seattle Area. I worked in the area for three months at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmon, WA. The Greater Seattle Area is at its most glamorous in the summer: sunshine, vegetation, and blue lakes. Redmond, located in the eastern part of the area, is more tranquil, unrestricted, and suitable for work compared with the Seattle-downtown area. 

student jeni huang poses with the Microsoft sign at headquarters

(Jeni and the Microsoft sign at Microsoft's headquarters)

As I worked in a hybrid workplace, I drove to the office twice a week. A typical day usually began with me waking up at 8:00 AM PT and starting to work around 9:00 AM PT. Even though I didn’t have a daily stand-up meeting, there were still lots of meetings in my schedule each day, mostly with other stakeholders (but, I loved it!). On the days I was in the office, I always chose to drive there around 11:00 AM PT as I had morning meetings.

What I liked most about my internship was that my project was in a large scope, which means I could make a significant impact.

My work set the foundation for some important discovery areas, and would benefit millions of external customers and Microsoft employees.

In addition, I truly loved my team, which consisted of talented and helpful designers! On the other hand, a large scope is also a challenge because I needed to identify the problems myself and provide innovative, scientific, elegant, and feasible solutions in a limited time. 

My advice for students applying for an internship this coming year is to start applying as early as possible! 

This summer, I worked at Milwaukee Tool as a Front End Innovation intern.

student manas mahaddalkar stands in front of the Milwaukee Tool logo

(Manas poses in front of the Milwaukee Tool logo)

I had to relocate for my internship from Pittsburgh to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Besides the nine hour drive, the rest of the move-in experience went well! Milwaukee Tool’s Human Resources department provided interns with all of the resources we would need to find summer accommodation. I decided to use their recommendation of staying at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee dorms which were temporarily converted to intern housing. This was very convenient and there were lots of other Milwaukee Tool interns staying there as well! Milwaukee Tool also provided relocation assistance that covered almost all of the costs of living there for two months. 

kayaks float on open water in Millwaukee
(Kayaking with fellow interns in Milwuakee) 

student manas mahaddalkar and fellow interns pose at a festival in Milwaukee

(Manas and fellow interns exploring the city)

As my project was open-ended, every day had its own set of adventures. The expectations for the project outcome were set early on and I was responsible for creating my own timeline. The project was also on the fuzzy front end of product development which led to spontaneity. Having learned to be comfortable with these unknown situations in the MIIPS program, especially during the capstone project, I was able to stay calm and have a positive work experience. 

The open-ended nature of my project was the most fun part of my internship. I’m used to working on defined problem-solution based outcomes, but this was a disruptive fuzzy front end, making things quite exciting. It was like having to cleverly navigate a maze that was in turn made by me. I had managed self-directed projects before, but this was the first time I would be applying design innovation principles in action, so it was a challenging experience as well, especially at the beginning of the internship. 

The Front End Innovation department helps envision disruptive future products for the Milwaukee Tool brand. From the moment I was assigned a desk, I was briefed on an opportunity space that the Marketing department was interested in and was asked to use all the tools I was taught at the iii to create a solution for that problem space. 

Once the expectations for the project were set, I got to set the pace of the project. To help me stay on track, I was assigned a mentor who was incredibly helpful in helping me stay aligned with my project goals. 

In the beginning, I worked as a user researcher to gather data about my subject and synthesize it into useful insights. These insights helped me focus on an opportunity gap where I started ideating concepts using my engineering and industrial design skills. During the 10 weeks of the internship, I got to work as an interdisciplinary innovator which was my favorite part of the entire experience. 

On my last day of the internship, I got to present my concept to the head of marketing for the business division. She found the concept viable and approved it for future steps. This was a huge WIN!

As this ‘disruptive product’ could very likely make it into production. There is still a long way to go as the project will need to pass through various departments that will engineer it to production specifications, but I was successful in carrying out an entire task within the scope of the Front End Innovation department using the tools and processes that the iii taught me! 

student manas mahaddalkar poses with a power tool in front of a red Milwaukee Tool banner

(Manas trying out some of Milwaukee Tool's power tools)

MIIPS caters to a very niche space within an organization. As I was looking for an internship, I was uncertain about what positions I should be applying for and that feeling can be quite stressful.

My advice for students applying to an internship next year is to communicate what you want with recruiters at early stages of the process, regardless of which position you are interviewing for.

I interviewed for a mechanical engineering position that led me to the Front End Innovation department. It’s okay not to know exactly what you want to do as long as you can truthfully communicate your interests with a recruiter.

Business & Startups

Aisya Aziz (MSTV '23)

MBA Intern, Program Management,
Digital Student Solutions,
Barnes & Noble Education

Sarvesh Karkhanis (MSTV '23)

Summer Associate,
Venture Capital,
Good Growth Capital

This summer, I worked at Barnes & Noble Education as an MBA Intern in Program Management in the Digital Student Solutions department.

student aisya aziz is photographed sitting at a table with fellow Barnes & Noble Education interns

(Asiya and fellow interns enjoy lunch during orientation week)

I had a remote internship, but I did go to an in-person orientation in New York City which was really great. At the orientation, the interns got to know our supervisors, team members, and fellow interns. I thought the in-person orientation was very helpful and crucial in setting up the tone of the whole internship.

We were a lot more comfortable with each other after the orientation, and the interns got so close that we’d even set a weekly meeting to share our challenges and difficulties so that we could navigate them better through the internship!

Each of the interns was assigned a project and we had some high-level deliverables that we were set to complete at the end of the internship. We had a gist of what we had to do but there weren’t set in stone daily tasks that we had to complete. We worked our own way to get needed information and we had to prepare a mid-point presentation and a final presentation of our deliverables and recommendations.

I thought the way the program was designed was great. We weren’t micromanaged and the deliverable checklists gave us a direction we should be moving towards. Along the way, I was involved in project planning, pre-grooming, and grooming sessions, and was assigned as a scrum master for one of the development teams, so that was fun! 

My favorite part of the internship experience was that I could easily reach out to anyone in the company, including the Vice President! It always felt like my voice was heard. Interns were even invited to meetings where the top management planned and strategized the direction of the company based on user analysis.

The most challenging part was trying to set the tone during the first few weeks of work. I was trying to catch up and understand the company, what it does, and who was important in my project, making sure I could contribute fast! 

My favorite project I worked on was the one I was assigned. In this project, I was assigned to look at the financial aid landscape for university students. I managed the pilot project and I had to operate it across 500+ networks of universities and colleges across the United States. 

My advice to students applying for internships next year is this: during the search, I was very torn between a program manager position and a product manager position. As someone who is looking at building my own company, I was thankful to be in the program manager position because I was able to see the company from many points of view. I was able to talk cross-functionally, and while I wasn’t able to directly work and decide on features, I was able to understand and communicate the needs between different stakeholders to the product manager and see how it materialized into the product.

I think the most important thing is to start the internship search VERY early (if you can start searching even before the start of the Spring semester, that would be great) and do not give up! I was very late in my search, but I am thankful that I got lucky to be able to join a company like Barnes & Noble Education.

This summer, I worked at Good Growth Capital as a  Summer Associate in Venture Capital.

My internship was essentially remote, however, I moved to the Bay Area during my internship as it was easier for me to get connected with the startup and venture capital ecosystem there. I could connect with many startups, VCs, and accelerators through my networking there. I would work remotely out of the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto. Also, the rest of my program (MSTV) was going to take place at CMU’s Silicon Valley campus, so I moved for that reason as well. 

student sarvesh karkhanis takes a selfie on Stanford University's campus

(Sarvesh poses for a selfie on Stanford University's campus)

As a summer associate in venture capital, I worked directly under the guidance of all five managing partners of the fund. One of the partners was my supervisor whom I directly reported to. All of the partners were highly experienced, having diverse industry backgrounds in technology, consumer electronics, startup accelerators, healthcare, and finance. The fund had a small team of nine people, and I was one of the only two associates working for the $250 million fund.

Unlike many other jobs in which you have a defined set of tasks, being an early-stage VC is a highly non-linear job where you have to maximize the outcomes in the least amount of time.

I needed to innovate my own working style in order to support innovations. The only ultimate goal was to make great investments for the fund by supporting promising founders and teams.

My day would typically start with a core team meeting, where all nine of us would discuss our tasks for the day. I would then start doing my planned tasks which included: networking, sourcing, technology scouting, market research, due diligence, intellectual property evaluation, term sheet negotiations, LP relations, and business development for portfolio startups.

If I’d find any promising investments, I’d set up meetings between the founders and partners. I’d also participate in team meetings where we would discuss existing term sheets for negotiations. Some meetings were with portfolio companies to mentor them regarding business development. You can see that associates need to be a jack-of-all-trades in venture capital firms! 

I thoroughly enjoyed working on all of my tasks during this experience. However, I’d have to say having meetings with startup founders and their teams was one of the most interesting tasks!

I was able to get in touch with so many highly motivated, brilliant founders and smart people who are poised to solve any problems they have. Their incredible energy and desire to solve pressing problems always reminded me of the purpose of my job - to support and nurture them!

The most challenging part of my experience was managing my time and charting my own path. However, being an entrepreneur myself, I was able to get used to the non-linear way of working. 

I had many favorite projects throughout my experience, but if I had to pick a favorite it would be initiating and leading a group for green hydrogen investments with an LP! 

My advice to students applying for internships next year is: network, network, network! If you are looking for a VC internship, then you already know that it is very hard to get into. Applying for VCs on job portals didn’t help me, because I had never worked in VCs before. However, I had a good amount of experience and know-how about entrepreneurship, which helped me in getting my internship offers. All the offers that I received for VC internships were through networking only where I already knew at least one of the managing partners or general partners of the VC. 

If you’re planning to take the path of entrepreneurship, VC internships are a great way to understand what goes on in the background. If you’re an entrepreneur, then you can anticipate contributing as a VC in the future too!

Software Engineering

Yiyuan Zhu (MSSM '22)
Software Engineering Intern,

This summer, I worked at YouTube as a Software Engineering intern.

student yiyuan zhu stands in front of the Google building on the Bay Area campus

(Yiyuan poses in front of Google's building on the Bay Area campus)

During the 3-month internship, I finished a project which focused on improving the YouTube user experience. I broke down the project into different milestones and mapped the tasks to my daily work. 

A typical day started with checking my email, then writing code. I would eat lunch each day at Google’s Bay Area campus in Silicon Valley. Then, I would start my afternoon with one or two meetings with my mentor to discuss the project’s progress. After the meetings, I spent several hours coding tasks and doing self-study. 

My favorite part of the internship was the project I worked on. I was able to roll it out to production, meaning that billions of YouTube users would benefit from the feature I developed. 

student yiyuan zhu poses for a photo with her pet husky

(Yiyuan poses with her Husky in her 'Noogler' hat from Google)

One challenge I faced during the project was from a technical standpoint. I needed to make sure the new feature I was creating would work on every platform, and therefore, I needed to consider several limitations. 

My advice for students looking for students who will experience internships next year is to not be afraid to ask questions and ask for feedback during your internship!

Internships are a great way to learn about technology you are interested in and to learn more about the company.

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