This summer I completed a 10-week internship with American Express (AmEx) in their London office as part of my Full-time MBA programme. I was the only candidate selected for this role from all European business schools. While I was interning my job was as a CEG MBA intern in their Digital Capabilities team.
Before I started the MBA, I was working as an Analytics Consultant for a boutique Tech Consulting firm in India. I worked across FMCG (fast moving consumer goods), Tobacco, Insurance, and Pharma industries. This internship with American Express saw me take a triple jump. I switched location, sector and job function. Moving from Bangalore to London, Information Technology to Business/Product Management and from consultant to senior manager. This is something that would not be possible if I wasn’t studying the MBA.
AmEx Global Rotation Programme
When the Postgraduate Careers Service (PCS) first posted about this role with AmEx it really excited me. There was something called a global rotation programme (GRP) that they were offering with this position. This was an opportunity to work in New York and I would be able to decide how I spent the 2 years building my career. I would be able to choose the business function I wanted to work for and the leader I wanted to work with. Once completing this 2 year’s I would be rolled into a director position.
Connecting with alumni at AmEx
PCS were amazing linking me to alumni who were now working at AmEx in senior positions. Speaking to them helped me to understand the AmEx culture and also gave me a network to connect with the right colleagues within the company who had either done this internship or knew the process so I could reach out for support with the application and interview technique. PCS were incredibly supportive throughout the entire process, they helped me find alumni working at AmEx to network with and offered continuous motivation for me throughout the application process.
The internship interview process
Landing the internship consisted of a screening interview, a case study round, two interview’s and then finally two coffee chat interviews. If you complete all these rounds successfully you are offered the internship. I had heard from various people that AmEx offer colleagues a lot of flexibility and I witnessed this first-hand when the programme director sourced a project for me that matched my long-term career goals. She found me a project that would add value to my career path, using the knowledge I have from my MBA to the maximum.
Help and guidance from the Postgraduate Careers Service
I started my MBA journey with a very open mind, and I knew I wanted to explore as much as possible. I made a point of understanding the career journeys of all my classmates and understanding how I could make a switch if I wanted to. This is why I knew I had to grab this opportunity with both hands. Every time I had a doubt or felt confused, PCS were there to help and guide me. They don’t tell you what to do but they help you talk through your options, helping you to make the right decisions by providing you with the tools to analyse everything yourself.
What I’ve learnt
My key takeaway from the internship would be owning my projects and developing the habit of thinking ahead and anticipating future needs. Also volunteering to take on other projects. These factors helped me achieve success working on interesting projects. I continued progressing during my internship by figuring out when and how and to always ask for help when I needed it. My task during my internship was to give recommendations but I also decided to conduct studies and showcase the impact my recommendations would create. I think this is what made me truly stand out, giving me confidence in my final presentation which was to CXOs and senior leaders in the company.
10 weeks is a really short period of time when you are working on a project in such a large organisation. Networking, learning about the company and the role I was taking on and also attending all the intern related events took up a lot of time alongside working on your project and putting together the best recommendations for leadership. I quickly learnt that the key to being successful is to build connections with your team members and start working from day one. I created a one pager that I shared with my team so they could understand the way I work and where my strengths lie, this work method will be something I take forward with me when I am working in teams in the future.
Exposure to senior leadership
This experience gave me exposure to senior leadership which is completely invaluable compared to the theory you can learn in the classroom. My mentor during the internships was a Vice President (VP) at AmEx who had worked in the company for 25 years. My presentation reviewers were also senior VP’s who had been working at AmEx for 40+ years and my final presentation was to the CXOs. I had been working with them for 10 weeks, but I only had 10 minutes to present to the leadership team. I had accumulated up to 72 slides of a power point presentation over my 10 weeks working there that I narrowed down to 2 slides to put the best recommendations forward. I also had to tailor my slides and the way I presented to the variety of stakeholders I shared my recommendations to.
This activity helped me understand what was relevant to what group and how to navigate through the expectations and needs of your juniors, peers, leaders and senior leaders. In preparing for this presentation I was able to use skills I had learnt from the live consultancy projects we undertake as part of the Full-time MBA which have really transformed my thinking and helped me to be better able to think on my feet when presenting to different audiences.