Carnegie Mellon University

AT&T

October 26, 2018

Student Spotlight: AT&T Inspires MBA’s Advertising Interest

When Abiola Ayinde was pursuing internship opportunities for the Tepper School of Business MBA program, AT&T was far outside of his consideration. He had no experience working with media and advertising. But after spending his summer mired in data about AT&T’s advertising, he’s eager to continue in the field after graduation.

“My exposure got me really excited about the industry,” Ayinde said. “Now I’m very eager to talk about advertising — looking at all the trends of the industry and how consumer behavior dictates where the industry is going to be in the short-term and going into the long-term.”

Born and raised in Nigeria, Ayinde came to the United States to pursue a bachelor’s degree in finance from St. John’s University in New York City. He spent several years in such varied functions as human resources, project management, and predictive analytics before applying to MBA programs.

Ayinde was drawn to the Tepper School’s reputation as a strong school for analytics and its small class sizes. “You get to know each of your classmates individually,” he said.

As he began the recruiting process for summer internships, he didn’t consider AT&T. “I had this perception of this old phone company,” he said. “After interviewing for the position, I got a better insight into what my role was going to be and also what AT&T looked like as a company. It got me really excited.”

Ayinde was hired into AT&T’s financial leadership program as a strategy and investments intern. During the course of the summer, Ayinde reviewed agreements AT&T was pursuing with other companies, such as mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and other strategic investments. In particular, he conducted financial analysis on their advertising deals — an assignment that would inspire a shift in his career goals.

While his Tepper School coursework in finance certainly had direct application to his analytical duties, “second-years and even Tepper grads always used to say it was those soft skills classes that actually tend to be the biggest value add from the Tepper experience,” Ayinde said. “Management Presentations was really huge in my final presentation at AT&T.” This required course is the first in a sequence of management communication core courses for MBA students at the Tepper School. 

As his internship was wrapping up, Ayinde was required to give a final presentation on his summer’s project to AT&T executives at its headquarters in Dallas, Texas. Out of 20 presentations, he said, his was one of the top two from that summer’s crop of interns. “That’s just one of the things that I know really applied straight from the classroom at Tepper to my internship at AT&T,” he said. 

As Ayinde begins his second year at the Tepper School, he will be taking on roles as vice president of alumni relations for the Black Business Association and vice president of finance for African Business Collective, in addition to being a member of several other student clubs — an opportunity he considers essential to his positive Tepper School experience. “You don’t really feel constricted to participate in one thing or the other,” he said. “I think that definitely fosters an environment for collaboration.”

Ayinde has found the support of his classmates to be invaluable as he pursues career opportunities this year. While he hasn’t yet committed to a specific career path, his new interest in media and advertising will drive some of his decisions through the recruiting process.